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Re: [WestMichiganHams] QSL card art exhibit

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  • Dennis Harriss
    At least one copy of this book is at Barnes & Noble on Harvey St. It is in the Science - Electronics section. If they are out they will order a copy for you
    Message 1 of 8 , May 7, 2006
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      At least one copy of this book is at Barnes & Noble on Harvey St.  It is in the Science - Electronics section.  If they are out they will order a copy for you and it should only take about a week.
       
      Denny  N8CTT
      18:36
       
       
       
       
       
      Mark K8MHZ
       
       
      Art
      Radio Ga-Ga
      At Spur, One Man's Career in Ham Radio Reveals a Lifetime of Curious Connections

      Hello World: A Life in Ham Radio
      the Spur Propaganda Gallery through Dec. 22

      By J. Bowers

      To the uninitiated, sitting in a dank basement with humming receiver components and antennae might seem even geekier than playing Everquest for 40 hours straight. But before there were online gaming communities, cellular phones, international relay chats, and instant messaging, ham radio was the best way for a civilian to reach out and touch the world. With a basic, often homemade setup consisting of a transceiver, a power source, an antenna, a speaker, and a microphone, amateur radiophiles everywhere transformed themselves into international communication hubs, using their know-how to establish contact with fellow hams in distant lands.

      Once connected, a ham operating out of Baltimore might enjoy a "QSO," or contact, with Erik Biorck at Radio S21ZG in Bangladesh, or Darcy Bens at Radio VEGCK/A7 in Doha, Qatar. After exchanging station addresses and friendly conversation, both hams mail "QSLs" to each other--tangible verification that their "QSOs" occurred, complete with equipment specifications, time of contact, and other information, all printed and/or handwritten on a 3 1/2-by-5 1/2-inch card. Geeky? Sure. Interesting? More than you'd think.

      Hello World, on display at Hampden's Spur Propaganda Gallery, plays host to hundreds of QSL cards. Sealed in plastic sandwich bags and neatly tacked to strips of wood along the gallery walls, the more than 300 QSL cards represent the personal collection of one Hackensack, N.J., ham--namely, Jerry Powell, call number WO2JW, or "Whiskey Two Oscar Juliet Whiskey," in the ham-favored International Telecommunication Union phonetic alphabet.

      An avid follower of the news, Powell often used his radio to contact ham operators in international hot spots, amassing a QSL collection that includes communiqués from post-bomb Japan, Vietnam, Iran, Korea, and other locales where civilian contact was discouraged or restricted. By passing government-sanctioned licensing exams, amateur radio enthusiasts become part of an elite subculture, able to wirelessly transmit information around the world--an ability that carries weight even today, when a hurricane or other disaster can knock out phone and power lines in seconds.

      Even though Powell, who held a license from 1928 until his "key went silent" in 2001, was just an average American hobbyist, his 67-year ham-radio career caught the attention of author/ham Danny Gregory and graphic designer/ham Paul Sahre. Gregory and Sahre used Powell's formidable QSL collection as the backbone for their book Hello World: A Life in Ham Radio (Princeton Architectural Press, 2003). Peppered with diagrams that look like they could have been plucked from a 1950s science textbook, Hello World is at once an educational text and a picture book of Powell's radio lifestyle.

      It makes sense, then, that Spur's Hello World exhibit is best viewed as a companion piece to the eponymous book. Without the context of ham-radio culture, the colorful QSL cards lining the walls would never transcend their license plate/picture postcard/calling card hybrid appearance. But with a little help from Gregory and Sahre's impeccably researched, pleasantly lighthearted book, the full historical resonance of the ham-radio phenomenon turns Hello World into one of the year's most successful sociocultural exhibits.

      Most of the ham operators in Powell's collection designed and printed their own QSL cards, using amateur typography, icon, layout, and paper-quality knowledge to identify and advertise their home stations. As a result, the cards' styles and subjects vary as wildly as their creators' nationalities. Some hams, like L.R. Goetz, operating as W9MHM out of Indianapolis, used QSL cards to advertise their businesses--a sly way to evade laws forbidding on-air commercial enterprise. Others, including Joseph H. Miller of PJ9AB, in the Netherlands Antilles, use their QSLs as a forum for Christian witnessing. Miller's card converts the name of his homemade station, Trans World Radio, into an acronym for "Telling the World of Redemption Through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ."

      The bulk of Powell's collection consists of QSLs from hams who used the postcard-sized format as a way to display pictures of their families (often posed in front of the home ham station), or to offer insights about their locations. In 1959, Glenn E. Murphy, aka K4TLN out of Athens, Ala., sent Powell a photo collage QSL. In addition to depicting Murphy himself, hamming away in front of a homemade map that denounces everyone north of the Mason-Dixon line as "damn Yankees," K4TLN's QSL card shows his son Mack brandishing toy six-guns, his daughter Karen, and his wife, identified only as XYL--shorthand for "ex-young lady," a slang term used to refer to any male ham's wife. Of course, some XYLs ran their own stations, including Maude Phillips, of Alberta, Canada, whose 1944 QSL shows a sexy cartoon version of herself, sending out "CQ" calls on her transceiver while her boxer-shorted husband, Glen, mends his pants. The caption reads: "While Maude QSOs, the old man sews!!" Phillips added a second handwritten caption beneath her equipment specs, claiming that the cartoon "ab[ou]t covers the situation here!"

      The concept behind Gregory and Sahre's book may seem unassuming at first, but the QSLs on display at Spur provide a fascinating gateway into ham-radio subculture. The cumulative effect of seeing Powell's collection all at once should intrigue any history or pop-culture buff. Even those who don't know a ham radio from a ham sandwich.

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    • jtporritt@netscape.com
      Nice Read. ... From: K8MHZ To: Subject: [WestMichiganHams] QSL card art exhibit Date: Mon, 7 May 2007
      Message 2 of 8 , May 7, 2006
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        Nice Read.


        --- k8mhz@... wrote:

        From: "K8MHZ" <k8mhz@...>
        To: <WestMichiganHams@yahoogroups.com>
        Subject: [WestMichiganHams] QSL card art exhibit
        Date: Mon, 7 May 2007 10:06:49 -0400

        The following article was from 2003 but it mentions something I never heard of. An exhibit at an art gallery featuring QSL cards. There is also mention of a book we should be seeking out, "Hello World: A Life in Ham Radio".

        I have only been collecting cards for a few months now. I have about 90 cards from 24 countries and 24 states. In the process of collecting them I have made some friends on the air from many different countries. Just more than a signal report, we talked about each other's lives and families, what it is like where we live and have even went on to exchange e-mails. The highlight of my collection came yesterday. A short time ago I made friends with the QSL manager for 4A7L. She was also the QSL manager for The Kingdom of Jordan's King Hussein 1, JY1, now SK. She has un-used QSL cards from him and sets of un-used postage stamps from 1952. She has sent me two sets of stamps (one for my father) and one of the QSL cards. The card is made from very heavy stock, like a matte board, with gold on the edges. The call JY1 is made of embossed gold foil. On the card is a picture of King Hussein, not printed on the card but cut from a photo and glued there. His signature, from a rubber stamp, is on the card. Someone spent a great deal of time designing that card. It will reside in a picture frame along with the stamps and the note explaining them.

        I started designing cards as soon as I had to send one out. I now have about 1/2 dozen designs for my own call and have done a few others as well. I never thought about the cards as exhibit worthy art until I read the article, below.

        Something I picked out of the article that I kind of liked....the author coined hams as being part of an "elite sub-culture". I like that.

        73,

        Mark K8MHZ


        Art
        Radio Ga-Ga
        At Spur, One Man's Career in Ham Radio Reveals a Lifetime of Curious Connections
        Hello World: A Life in Ham Radio
        the Spur Propaganda Gallery through Dec. 22 By J. Bowers

        To the uninitiated, sitting in a dank basement with humming receiver components and antennae might seem even geekier than playing Everquest for 40 hours straight. But before there were online gaming communities, cellular phones, international relay chats, and instant messaging, ham radio was the best way for a civilian to reach out and touch the world. With a basic, often homemade setup consisting of a transceiver, a power source, an antenna, a speaker, and a microphone, amateur radiophiles everywhere transformed themselves into international communication hubs, using their know-how to establish contact with fellow hams in distant lands.
        Once connected, a ham operating out of Baltimore might enjoy a "QSO," or contact, with Erik Biorck at Radio S21ZG in Bangladesh, or Darcy Bens at Radio VEGCK/A7 in Doha, Qatar. After exchanging station addresses and friendly conversation, both hams mail "QSLs" to each other--tangible verification that their "QSOs" occurred, complete with equipment specifications, time of contact, and other information, all printed and/or handwritten on a 3 1/2-by-5 1/2-inch card. Geeky? Sure. Interesting? More than you'd think.

        Hello World, on display at Hampden's Spur Propaganda Gallery, plays host to hundreds of QSL cards. Sealed in plastic sandwich bags and neatly tacked to strips of wood along the gallery walls, the more than 300 QSL cards represent the personal collection of one Hackensack, N.J., ham--namely, Jerry Powell, call number WO2JW, or "Whiskey Two Oscar Juliet Whiskey," in the ham-favored International Telecommunication Union phonetic alphabet.

        An avid follower of the news, Powell often used his radio to contact ham operators in international hot spots, amassing a QSL collection that includes communiqués from post-bomb Japan, Vietnam, Iran, Korea, and other locales where civilian contact was discouraged or restricted. By passing government-sanctioned licensing exams, amateur radio enthusiasts become part of an elite subculture, able to wirelessly transmit information around the world--an ability that carries weight even today, when a hurricane or other disaster can knock out phone and power lines in seconds.

        Even though Powell, who held a license from 1928 until his "key went silent" in 2001, was just an average American hobbyist, his 67-year ham-radio career caught the attention of author/ham Danny Gregory and graphic designer/ham Paul Sahre. Gregory and Sahre used Powell's formidable QSL collection as the backbone for their book Hello World: A Life in Ham Radio (Princeton Architectural Press, 2003). Peppered with diagrams that look like they could have been plucked from a 1950s science textbook, Hello World is at once an educational text and a picture book of Powell's radio lifestyle.

        It makes sense, then, that Spur's Hello World exhibit is best viewed as a companion piece to the eponymous book. Without the context of ham-radio culture, the colorful QSL cards lining the walls would never transcend their license plate/picture postcard/calling card hybrid appearance. But with a little help from Gregory and Sahre's impeccably researched, pleasantly lighthearted book, the full historical resonance of the ham-radio phenomenon turns Hello World into one of the year's most successful sociocultural exhibits.

        Most of the ham operators in Powell's collection designed and printed their own QSL cards, using amateur typography, icon, layout, and paper-quality knowledge to identify and advertise their home stations. As a result, the cards' styles and subjects vary as wildly as their creators' nationalities. Some hams, like L.R. Goetz, operating as W9MHM out of Indianapolis, used QSL cards to advertise their businesses--a sly way to evade laws forbidding on-air commercial enterprise. Others, including Joseph H. Miller of PJ9AB, in the Netherlands Antilles, use their QSLs as a forum for Christian witnessing. Miller's card converts the name of his homemade station, Trans World Radio, into an acronym for "Telling the World of Redemption Through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ."

        The bulk of Powell's collection consists of QSLs from hams who used the postcard-sized format as a way to display pictures of their families (often posed in front of the home ham station), or to offer insights about their locations. In 1959, Glenn E. Murphy, aka K4TLN out of Athens, Ala., sent Powell a photo collage QSL. In addition to depicting Murphy himself, hamming away in front of a homemade map that denounces everyone north of the Mason-Dixon line as "damn Yankees," K4TLN's QSL card shows his son Mack brandishing toy six-guns, his daughter Karen, and his wife, identified only as XYL--shorthand for "ex-young lady," a slang term used to refer to any male ham's wife. Of course, some XYLs ran their own stations, including Maude Phillips, of Alberta, Canada, whose 1944 QSL shows a sexy cartoon version of herself, sending out "CQ" calls on her transceiver while her boxer-shorted husband, Glen, mends his pants. The caption reads: "While Maude QSOs, the old man sews!!" Phillips added a second handwritten caption beneath her equipment specs, claiming that the cartoon "ab[ou]t covers the situation here!"

        The concept behind Gregory and Sahre's book may seem unassuming at first, but the QSLs on display at Spur provide a fascinating gateway into ham-radio subculture. The cumulative effect of seeing Powell's collection all at once should intrigue any history or pop-culture buff. Even those who don't know a ham radio from a ham sandwich.

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      • Bill Fries
        Linda got this book from the library. The various libraries share their collection and you can generally order a copy of a book on line. Cheaper? This was a
        Message 3 of 8 , May 8, 2006
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          Linda got this book from the library.  The various libraries share their collection and you can generally order a copy of a book on line.  Cheaper?

           

          This was a very good book and quite interesting. 

           

          I have heard a rumor of an historically important QSL card, the MAARC, and a presentation all mentioned in the same sentence.  Just a rumor, though!

           

          Not necessarily a QSL card but Bob, KC8VTX found his father's call sign from the 1920s.  9AUY or something like that.  Fascinating.  Next challenge?  Get a QSL card from his father?

           

          Great fun!

           

          Bill, AB8SC

        • Bill Fries
          We have kicked around a QSL Card of the Month article in Flashovers. Maybe the time is right? I sure have had fun chasing some DX and the ensuing card. Some
          Message 4 of 8 , May 8, 2006
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            We have kicked around a "QSL Card of the Month" article in Flashovers.  Maybe the time is right?

             

            I sure have had fun chasing some DX and the ensuing card.  Some more difficult than others, for sure.

             

            Bill, AB8SC

          • Gary Lauff
            Hi, Just read your email, RE: QSL Cards. I am curious, you said you design your own QSL cards, and have a half a dozen versions. What computer program are you
            Message 5 of 8 , Jul 18, 2006
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              Hi, Just read your email, RE: QSL Cards. I am curious, you said you design your own QSL cards, and have a half a dozen versions. What computer program are you using to design the QSL cards with, and how do you like it? Would you use different software if you could? which program would that be? Why? How do you print out the finished version, QSL cards? Are they on thick, stiff glossy stock? Please expound.
              73,
              Gary Lauff KD8AZM 

              K8MHZ <k8mhz@...> wrote:
              The following article was from 2003 but it mentions something I never heard of.  An exhibit at an art gallery featuring QSL cards.  There is also mention of a book we should be seeking out, "Hello World:  A Life in Ham Radio".
               
              I have only been collecting cards for a few months now.  I have about 90 cards from 24 countries and 24 states.  In the process of collecting them I have made some friends on the air from many different countries.  Just more than a signal report, we talked about each other's lives and families, what it is like where we live and have even went on to exchange e-mails.  The highlight of my collection came yesterday.  A short time ago I made friends with the QSL manager for 4A7L.  She was also the QSL manager for The Kingdom of Jordan's King Hussein 1, JY1, now SK.  She has un-used QSL cards from him and sets of un-used postage stamps from 1952.  She has sent me two sets of stamps (one for my father) and one of the QSL cards.  The card is made from very heavy stock, like a matte board, with gold on the edges.  The call JY1 is made of embossed gold foil.  On the card is a picture of King Hussein, not printed on the card but cut from a photo and glued there.  His signature, from a rubber stamp, is on the card.  Someone spent a great deal of time designing that card.  It will reside in a picture frame along with the stamps and the note explaining them.
               
              I started designing cards as soon as I had to send one out.  I now have about 1/2 dozen designs for my own call and have done a few others as well.  I never thought about the cards as exhibit worthy art until I read the article, below.
               
              Something I picked out of the article that I kind of liked....the author coined hams as being part of an "elite sub-culture".   I like that.
               
              73,
               
              Mark K8MHZ
               
               
              Art
              Radio Ga-Ga
              At Spur, One Man's Career in Ham Radio Reveals a Lifetime of Curious Connections

              Hello World: A Life in Ham Radio
              the Spur Propaganda Gallery through Dec. 22
              To the uninitiated, sitting in a dank basement with humming receiver components and antennae might seem even geekier than playing Everquest for 40 hours straight. But before there were online gaming communities, cellular phones, international relay chats, and instant messaging, ham radio was the best way for a civilian to reach out and touch the world. With a basic, often homemade setup consisting of a transceiver, a power source, an antenna, a speaker, and a microphone, amateur radiophiles everywhere transformed themselves into international communication hubs, using their know-how to establish contact with fellow hams in distant lands.
              Once connected, a ham operating out of Baltimore might enjoy a "QSO," or contact, with Erik Biorck at Radio S21ZG in Bangladesh, or Darcy Bens at Radio VEGCK/A7 in Doha, Qatar. After exchanging station addresses and friendly conversation, both hams mail "QSLs" to each other--tangible verification that their "QSOs" occurred, complete with equipment specifications, time of contact, and other information, all printed and/or handwritten on a 3 1/2-by-5 1/2-inch card. Geeky? Sure. Interesting? More than you'd think.
              Hello World, on display at Hampden's Spur Propaganda Gallery, plays host to hundreds of QSL cards. Sealed in plastic sandwich bags and neatly tacked to strips of wood along the gallery walls, the more than 300 QSL cards represent the personal collection of one Hackensack, N.J., ham--namely, Jerry Powell, call number WO2JW, or "Whiskey Two Oscar Juliet Whiskey," in the ham-favored International Telecommunication Union phonetic alphabet.
              An avid follower of the news, Powell often used his radio to contact ham operators in international hot spots, amassing a QSL collection that includes communiqués from post-bomb Japan, Vietnam, Iran, Korea, and other locales where civilian contact was discouraged or restricted. By passing government-sanctioned licensing exams, amateur radio enthusiasts become part of an elite subculture, able to wirelessly transmit information around the world--an ability that carries weight even today, when a hurricane or other disaster can knock out phone and power lines in seconds.
              Even though Powell, who held a license from 1928 until his "key went silent" in 2001, was just an average American hobbyist, his 67-year ham-radio career caught the attention of author/ham Danny Gregory and graphic designer/ham Paul Sahre. Gregory and Sahre used Powell's formidable QSL collection as the backbone for their book Hello World: A Life in Ham Radio (Princeton Architectural Press, 2003). Peppered with diagrams that look like they could have been plucked from a 1950s science textbook, Hello World is at once an educational text and a picture book of Powell's radio lifestyle.
              It makes sense, then, that Spur's Hello World exhibit is best viewed as a companion piece to the eponymous book. Without the context of ham-radio culture, the colorful QSL cards lining the walls would never transcend their license plate/picture postcard/calling card hybrid appearance. But with a little help from Gregory and Sahre's impeccably researched, pleasantly lighthearted book, the full historical resonance of the ham-radio phenomenon turns Hello World into one of the year's most successful sociocultural exhibits.
              Most of the ham operators in Powell's collection designed and printed their own QSL cards, using amateur typography, icon, layout, and paper-quality knowledge to identify and advertise their home stations. As a result, the cards' styles and subjects vary as wildly as their creators' nationalities. Some hams, like L.R. Goetz, operating as W9MHM out of Indianapolis, used QSL cards to advertise their businesses--a sly way to evade laws forbidding on-air commercial enterprise. Others, including Joseph H. Miller of PJ9AB, in the Netherlands Antilles, use their QSLs as a forum for Christian witnessing. Miller's card converts the name of his homemade station, Trans World Radio, into an acronym for "Telling the World of Redemption Through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ."
              The bulk of Powell's collection consists of QSLs from hams who used the postcard-sized format as a way to display pictures of their families (often posed in front of the home ham station), or to offer insights about their locations. In 1959, Glenn E. Murphy, aka K4TLN out of Athens, Ala., sent Powell a photo collage QSL. In addition to depicting Murphy himself, hamming away in front of a homemade map that denounces everyone north of the Mason-Dixon line as "damn Yankees," K4TLN's QSL card shows his son Mack brandishing toy six-guns, his daughter Karen, and his wife, identified only as XYL--shorthand for "ex-young lady," a slang term used to refer to any male ham's wife. Of course, some XYLs ran their own stations, including Maude Phillips, of Alberta, Canada, whose 1944 QSL shows a sexy cartoon version of herself, sending out "CQ" calls on her transceiver while her boxer-shorted husband, Glen, mends his pants. The caption reads: "While Maude QSOs, the old man sews!!" Phillips added a second handwritten caption beneath her equipment specs, claiming that the cartoon "ab[ou]t covers the situation here!"
              The concept behind Gregory and Sahre's book may seem unassuming at first, but the QSLs on display at Spur provide a fascinating gateway into ham-radio subculture. The cumulative effect of seeing Powell's collection all at once should intrigue any history or pop-culture buff. Even those who don't know a ham radio from a ham sandwich.
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            • k8mhz@k8mhz.com
              Hi Gary, There are different programs that can be used. A card mill like QSL maker is pretty easy and a good place to start. I am using PhotoShop for my
              Message 6 of 8 , Jul 19, 2006
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                Hi Gary,
                 
                There are different programs that can be used.  A card mill like QSL maker is pretty easy and a good place to start.  I am using PhotoShop for my designs.  There really is not a better program than PhotoShop.  Right now I am using Walgreens to print out the cards if I want glossys.  They print 4 x 6s for 19 cents.  I have my designs on the Walgreens server and just order them on line as I need them and pick them up in 45 minutes or so.  Walgreens uses Fuji photo paper.  I also have some low resolution designs I print on pre-stamped USPS post cards.  Those I print here on an Epson Photo printer.  If I want a really super quality I use Epson Luster E paper in my Epson printer with OEM Epson ink.  So far the results are as good as or better than having them commercially printed.  Using OEM Epson products is not cheap, but provides very, very good results.
                 
                For the text I use a program called Logo Maker that has hundreds of different fonts.  I also have a disc of 1200 fonts that I have not explored yet.  When using programs of this nature it is important that they have an export feature.  PhotoShop works with many different file extensions but not all.  The text generators often have proprietary file extensions that have to be rendered and exported to a usable file type.
                 
                I hope that answers your question.
                 
                73 and happy QSLing,
                 
                Mark K8MHZ
                 
                 
                ----- Original Message -----
                Sent: Wednesday, July 19, 2006 1:42 AM
                Subject: Re: [WestMichiganHams] QSL card art exhibit

                Hi, Just read your email, RE: QSL Cards. I am curious, you said you design your own QSL cards, and have a half a dozen versions. What computer program are you using to design the QSL cards with, and how do you like it? Would you use different software if you could? which program would that be? Why? How do you print out the finished version, QSL cards? Are they on thick, stiff glossy stock? Please expound.
                73,
                Gary Lauff KD8AZM 

                K8MHZ <k8mhz@...> wrote:
                The following article was from 2003 but it mentions something I never heard of.  An exhibit at an art gallery featuring QSL cards.  There is also mention of a book we should be seeking out, "Hello World:  A Life in Ham Radio".
                 
                I have only been collecting cards for a few months now.  I have about 90 cards from 24 countries and 24 states.  In the process of collecting them I have made some friends on the air from many different countries.  Just more than a signal report, we talked about each other's lives and families, what it is like where we live and have even went on to exchange e-mails.  The highlight of my collection came yesterday.  A short time ago I made friends with the QSL manager for 4A7L.  She was also the QSL manager for The Kingdom of Jordan's King Hussein 1, JY1, now SK.  She has un-used QSL cards from him and sets of un-used postage stamps from 1952.  She has sent me two sets of stamps (one for my father) and one of the QSL cards.  The card is made from very heavy stock, like a matte board, with gold on the edges.  The call JY1 is made of embossed gold foil.  On the card is a picture of King Hussein, not printed on the card but cut from a photo and glued there.  His signature, from a rubber stamp, is on the card.  Someone spent a great deal of time designing that card.  It will reside in a picture frame along with the stamps and the note explaining them.
                 
                I started designing cards as soon as I had to send one out.  I now have about 1/2 dozen designs for my own call and have done a few others as well.  I never thought about the cards as exhibit worthy art until I read the article, below.
                 
                Something I picked out of the article that I kind of liked....the author coined hams as being part of an "elite sub-culture".   I like that.
                73,
                 
                Mark K8MHZ
                 
                 
                Art
                Radio Ga-Ga
                At Spur, One Man's Career in Ham Radio Reveals a Lifetime of Curious Connections

                Hello World: A Life in Ham Radio
                the Spur Propaganda Gallery through Dec. 22
                To the uninitiated, sitting in a dank basement with humming receiver components and antennae might seem even geekier than playing Everquest for 40 hours straight. But before there were online gaming communities, cellular phones, international relay chats, and instant messaging, ham radio was the best way for a civilian to reach out and touch the world. With a basic, often homemade setup consisting of a transceiver, a power source, an antenna, a speaker, and a microphone, amateur radiophiles everywhere transformed themselves into international communication hubs, using their know-how to establish contact with fellow hams in distant lands.
                Once connected, a ham operating out of Baltimore might enjoy a "QSO," or contact, with Erik Biorck at Radio S21ZG in Bangladesh, or Darcy Bens at Radio VEGCK/A7 in Doha, Qatar. After exchanging station addresses and friendly conversation, both hams mail "QSLs" to each other--tangible verification that their "QSOs" occurred, complete with equipment specifications, time of contact, and other information, all printed and/or handwritten on a 3 1/2-by-5 1/2-inch card. Geeky? Sure. Interesting? More than you'd think.
                Hello World, on display at Hampden's Spur Propaganda Gallery, plays host to hundreds of QSL cards. Sealed in plastic sandwich bags and neatly tacked to strips of wood along the gallery walls, the more than 300 QSL cards represent the personal collection of one Hackensack, N.J., ham--namely, Jerry Powell, call number WO2JW, or "Whiskey Two Oscar Juliet Whiskey," in the ham-favored International Telecommunication Union phonetic alphabet.
                An avid follower of the news, Powell often used his radio to contact ham operators in international hot spots, amassing a QSL collection that includes communiqués from post-bomb Japan, Vietnam, Iran, Korea, and other locales where civilian contact was discouraged or restricted. By passing government-sanctioned licensing exams, amateur radio enthusiasts become part of an elite subculture, able to wirelessly transmit information around the world--an ability that carries weight even today, when a hurricane or other disaster can knock out phone and power lines in seconds.
                Even though Powell, who held a license from 1928 until his "key went silent" in 2001, was just an average American hobbyist, his 67-year ham-radio career caught the attention of author/ham Danny Gregory and graphic designer/ham Paul Sahre. Gregory and Sahre used Powell's formidable QSL collection as the backbone for their book Hello World: A Life in Ham Radio (Princeton Architectural Press, 2003). Peppered with diagrams that look like they could have been plucked from a 1950s science textbook, Hello World is at once an educational text and a picture book of Powell's radio lifestyle.
                It makes sense, then, that Spur's Hello World exhibit is best viewed as a companion piece to the eponymous book. Without the context of ham-radio culture, the colorful QSL cards lining the walls would never transcend their license plate/picture postcard/calling card hybrid appearance. But with a little help from Gregory and Sahre's impeccably researched, pleasantly lighthearted book, the full historical resonance of the ham-radio phenomenon turns Hello World into one of the year's most successful sociocultural exhibits.
                Most of the ham operators in Powell's collection designed and printed their own QSL cards, using amateur typography, icon, layout, and paper-quality knowledge to identify and advertise their home stations. As a result, the cards' styles and subjects vary as wildly as their creators' nationalities. Some hams, like L.R. Goetz, operating as W9MHM out of Indianapolis, used QSL cards to advertise their businesses--a sly way to evade laws forbidding on-air commercial enterprise. Others, including Joseph H. Miller of PJ9AB, in the Netherlands Antilles, use their QSLs as a forum for Christian witnessing. Miller's card converts the name of his homemade station, Trans World Radio, into an acronym for "Telling the World of Redemption Through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ."
                The bulk of Powell's collection consists of QSLs from hams who used the postcard-sized format as a way to display pictures of their families (often posed in front of the home ham station), or to offer insights about their locations. In 1959, Glenn E. Murphy, aka K4TLN out of Athens, Ala., sent Powell a photo collage QSL. In addition to depicting Murphy himself, hamming away in front of a homemade map that denounces everyone north of the Mason-Dixon line as "damn Yankees," K4TLN's QSL card shows his son Mack brandishing toy six-guns, his daughter Karen, and his wife, identified only as XYL--shorthand for "ex-young lady," a slang term used to refer to any male ham's wife. Of course, some XYLs ran their own stations, including Maude Phillips, of Alberta, Canada, whose 1944 QSL shows a sexy cartoon version of herself, sending out "CQ" calls on her transceiver while her boxer-shorted husband, Glen, mends his pants. The caption reads: "While Maude QSOs, the old man sews!!" Phillips added a second handwritten caption beneath her equipment specs, claiming that the cartoon "ab[ou]t covers the situation here!"
                The concept behind Gregory and Sahre's book may seem unassuming at first, but the QSLs on display at Spur provide a fascinating gateway into ham-radio subculture. The cumulative effect of seeing Powell's collection all at once should intrigue any history or pop-culture buff. Even those who don't know a ham radio from a ham sandwich.
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