I was first alerted to the stamp artwork of Donald Evans by a note on miniature reproductions of work by Gertrude Stein (note found in Susan Stewart’s On Longing p. 180 n. 45). So, of course, I had to see for myself and consulted the catalogue The World of Donald Evans with text by Will Eisenhart. I found the Stein stamps: one set depicting some of the shorter sections from Tender Buttons; the other, a selection from “A Valentine to Sherwood Anderson” upon its fiftieth anniversary in 1972. And I found in “The Life of Donald Evans” (in the catalogue) a little description of the delights of Holland. Willy Eisenhart writes:
Holland seemed to Donald Evans a perfect place to be: he liked the small scale of the country; Dutch openness to new ideas coupled with hard headed practicality; an ongoing tradition of painting small-scale realism; the high Dutch skies and special light; a national hobby of stamp collecting; and the soft gutteral language with all its fond diminutives.
I love the pile up of small tiny elements perhaps because it connects in some way to a childhood memory of visiting a miniature village in Holland (or Belgium?) and being treated to the magic lantern slide show of the experience thanks to my father’s camera. Fun to see oneself with a giant perspective yet still a small wee person.
And I like in these contexts the big-small and am reminded of Cid Corman’s rendering of a haiku by Bashō
touring the world
tilling a small field
to its limits
And so for day 774