Kind of Street-ish

Kurt Ketchum
  painting at Rochester Contemporary Art Center

After stepping inside the exhibition “State of the City: Street-ish”
 I realized how difficult it is trying to put this subject into a box the size of a gallery.  It wants to BUST OUT!  So, Rochester Contemporary Art Center will present part of this new show outside during the coming Fringe Festival ( last week of September, 26-28th, 2013) in the form of a sound sculpture “Sun Boxes” by Craig Colorusso.

Street art began way before TAKI 183 ever put his tag up all around the five boroughs of NYC.  An artist I knew, Tehching Hsieh spent a year living out on the street with no visible means of support. I also remember a long running performance piece ( in the 1960’s ) by the composer Moondog, who used Sixth Avenue as his stage – I frequently came across him acting like the door guard for the Carnegie Delicatessen – he even held the door for me – yet few people knew of his musical compositions then, – he was a real performance ( and endurance ) artist.

Moondog circa 1966

How bizarre and almost shocking to see Moondog dressed as a Viking there in all kinds of sweltering weather, rain and snow in mid-town Manhattan.  So it was no surprise coming across the kind of head gear that Irvin Climaco Morazan has invented for his part of the show here in Rochester.  I actually had to chuckle because it was part Pee Wee’s Playhouse and part Chinese New Year, and I half expected fire crackers next….

It is difficult trying to sum up street art in one show of this size.  There are just too many artists of importance to my mind – but at least RoCo is giving it a try and has invested time and energy – introducing the public to what they may have already witnessed ( out on the street ).

Kurt Ketchum at RoCo

I enjoyed looking at the paintings of Kurt Ketchum, and the details looked great.  These are very stylish mid-sized paintings incorporating bits of typography and texture.  Ideas are re-cycled, and that is certainly the case with Karlos Carcamo’s paintings and sculpture.  The “Hard Edge Paintings” -at least have pleasant color choices, but the concepts of a gesture over-layered with some solid blocks of color – this idea has been around the block more than once ( see Irene Rice Pereira for example )

Another example is the parody of Richard Tuttle – in this exhibition there is a shoe lace pinned to the wall – it re-enacts the gestures found in the neighboring painting.

Karlos Carcamo at RoCo

It may be that a problem I have with the street art as presented is that I have seen this all before, there is no new ground being broken here – it is all context – it is entertaining, OK, but it isn’t going beyond documenting sociology for me.  What I could be looking at here, is a break from the strictures of the marketable art object against the backdrop of an artworld as I once knew it – to a more festive – radical view of the art experience – something that is more transitory and ephemeral – and that would be just like life on the street.

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