There are few small pleasures more delightful than opening the mailbox to find a holiday card from a friend. It doesn’t matter if it was mass produced in a factory and sold in bulk at Costco; it still has an inexplicable ability to make us feel appreciated. Send a homemade card, though, and chances are pretty good this pack rat will never throw it away.
That’s what makes perusing the unusual cards in Handmade: Artists’ Holiday Cards from the Archives of American Art at the Morgan Library such a joy. Drawing from the Smithsonian’s collection, the show includes 60 examples of cards made by artists like Helen Frankenthaler, Ad Reinhardt and Philip Guston. Each reflects the unique personality of its maker. Claes Oldenburg’s playful 1965 card to curator Samuel Wagstaff depicts a fat pig spouting the gobbled greeting “Macky Exmouse,” while Julia Thecla’s undated card to Katherine Kuh features a fuzzy snowman offering up “a year’s supply of happiness” — proof that a little creativity mixed with thoughtfulness can go a very long way.