You may have noticed the gleaming, golden mailbox in downtown Santa Rosa’s Courthouse Square and wondered what mysteries lie within. And to be sure, this is no ordinary USPS mailbox, but rather, one installed by the US Portal Service, a transtemporal communications location where letters and queries can be sent to the past or the future.
Per the US Portal Service’s mission statement: “Are you anxious about the future? Hung up on the past? We can help! Our team of Portal Professionals adheres to the highest standards of excellence in transtemporal courier and correspondence services. Your original letter and the response to your letter will be posted together on Instagram @United.States.Portal.Service. If you provide a return address, you will also receive a response by mail.”
“I had mail on my mind because I’d been sending letters during shelter in place as a way to connect without being face-to-face,” says local artist Jessica Rasmussen, who answered the Santa Rosa Metro Chamber and Downtown Business Association’s Open and Out program’s call for public art installations. “This was also around the time that we were hearing murmurs of our current political administration defunding the USPS, which grew alongside the project. So this project about connection also became about activism in a way.”
Professional guilders Julian Billotte and Anna Wiziarde covered the box itself mostly in imitation gold (with the exception of using the real stuff on what Rasmussen refers to as “the action spots,” particularly the slot where the letters pass through, “for magical purposes”). The true gold leaf responds to light in a particular way, catching brilliant sunbeams when the portal is opened.
Since the installation on September 4, so much co-created magic has transpired. Letters and quandaries run the gamut of human experience. One addressed to the future from “All Moms” wonders, “Will you be there for my children?” Another written on playful, pink floral paper asks simply, “Dear Past, what makes you think you are so innocent?”
The diverse responses from the 35 Portal Professionals are thoughtful and complex; many include art and poetry alongside their words of wisdom and wonder. “I really feel like we’ve opened a portal,” says Rasmussen. “It’s been a really good art practice of letting go, trusting writers and responders, and just seeing what happens.”
The US Portal Service will be receiving and responding to letters through December 4, 2020.
For more information:
or @United.States.Portal.Service on Instagram