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  • Writer's pictureKaren Seiger

Farewell to Ephemera Artist Geno Sartori

Geno Sartori's Beautiful 3D Greeting Cards

Geno Sartori’s Beautiful 3D Greeting Cards

I spotted Geno Sartori’s vivid and beautiful greeting cards on a table at the London Terrace Street Fair this past Saturday. As I approached, I didn’t see Geno around, and I just had a funny feeling. His tables at the Greenflea never have a bare spot amidst the inventory of floral pop-up cards, vintage cutouts of ballerinas and other amazing bits of ephemeral art. But on Sunday, his tables had a few gaps.

I was very sad to learn that Geno passed away in July. His partner George (above) and their friends were manning the table at London Terrace, selling Geno’s remaining inventory to admiring customers, just as he had done every weekend for many years.

I met Geno when I was writing my guidebook back in 2009. It took a while for him to warm up to me, or so I thought. Later on, I realized that beneath his flea-market hardened surface (from years of selling handmade works of art to bargain hunters, I suppose), he was very friendly and very funny. And so I visited him every time I was at the Greenflea, where he had a table in the far corner inside the cafeteria. He had a seemingly endless stock of printed images from the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s. He told me that most of the paper stock had been designed and printed in Germany. After WWII there was not a lot of demand for German products, and these images were stored away somewhere. Geno recognized their beauty half a century later and breathed new life into them.

Only very special people received Geno’s cards from me. They are very difficult to part with because they are just so lovely! His Valentine’s Day cards would melt the hardest heart. His Easter cards with little ducks and bunnies made their way to my tiny nieces. When we moved my mom into memory care earlier this month, I found on her writing desk the bouquet of paper roses I had sent her from Geno’s collection two years ago.

I loved looking at the mechanics of Geno’s multi-layered pop-up cards. He used small strips of folded card stock and affixed them to the back of each image. The strips folded up flat inside the cellophane baggie. But when you pulled the card out and coaxed the images apart, they became a wonderful, small 3-D tableau. It was detailed work, and Geno must have worked all the time to keep his tables full.

In addition to the pretty flowers, sweet children and ducklings, Geno had a thing for the Krampus, which I wrote about on my blog. On Sunday, there was one framed Krampus image left, and I had to buy it for my desk. He still scares the heck out of me. But I am starting to appreciate his whimsy and charm, maybe because he reminds me of Geno in only the best of ways. I will always remember Geno fondly.

~Karen Seiger, Markets of New York City

Mother's Day Card by Geno Sartori

Mother’s Day Card by Geno Sartori

One Dozen Paper Roses by Geno Sartori

3-D Greeting Card by Geno Sartori

3-D Greeting Card by Geno Sartori

Geno's Sense of Humor. Read carefully and follow the red letters.

Geno’s Sense of Humor. Read carefully and follow the red letters.

Geno Sartori's Jewelry Boxes

Geno Sartori’s Jewelry Boxes

Fold out greeting card by Geno Sartori

Fold out greeting card by Geno Sartori

Geno Sartori Self Portrait

Geno Sartori Self Portrait


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