Monday, July 8, 2013

6 x 6 x 2013 at the Rochester Contemporary Art Center

Some of the walls at the
RoCo 6 x 6 x 2013 show
My friend Maggie missed her calling as an excursion guide.  This is my second trip to Rochester to visit Maggie and husband Charlie, and she once again jammed our schedule full of fun and interesting adventures.   We both fancy ourselves to be culture vultures, so some type of art or theater is always on our agenda when we get together.  Our primary arts outing this visit was to the Rochester Contemporary Art Center (RoCo) to see its sixth annual 6 x 6 exhibition.  The concept is simple:  invite people from all walks of life to create 6 x 6 works of art and contribute them to RoCo to exhibit and sell.  The price tag for each work is a mere $20.  This year over 6,000 art works were contributed by people from all 50 states and over 50 countries.  RoCo's fundraising goal was to sell at least 2,000 of the pieces (raising a cool $40K for its coffers), which it had more than achieved in the month the show had been open before I saw it.

While Maggie had explained all this to me, it was hard to understand  how much of an impact 6,000 little works of art make when you walk into a space.  Art was everywhere, and this Modigliani-esque painting was one of the first pieces that caught my eye. Unfortunately, the painting had a purple dot under it which indicated that the work was sold.  At the opening night reception for the show, attendees had the chance to purchase raffle tickets.  Towards the end of the evening, 20 names were called out with short intervals between winners.  If your name was called, you had won the right to dash through the gallery and put purple dots on the works you couldn't live without.

Maggie didn't attend the event (this year, that is --she won't miss it next year), but we envision it going something like this.  At 7:30, Polly Purchaser's name is called.  She runs to one wall and puts the sold dot on a work while simultaneously pulling off the number tag.  She then runs to another wall and completes the maneuver again.  It is now 7:31 and Bob Buyer's name rings out.  Bob now starts running around doing the same thing.  Polly can continue to buy art while John makes his selections.  By 7:50, Polly and Bob have finished up their purchasing but there are still several raffle winners purple dotting the works they want.  At 8:00, the gallery opens up to sales by all comers.  It sounds like mass chaos but lots of fun.

The exhibit has one additional twist:  all of the works are identified only by number. So people familiar with the Rochester art scene might think that they've purchased a 6 x 6 by one of their favorite local artists, but they won't know for sure until long after their money is safely put away in the cash register.  It's one of the ways that RoCo promotes egalitarianism among artists (and the reason why none of the artists whose works are shown here are given credit for their work).

Since my visit to RoCo occurred five weeks into the show, I didn't know if I would find a work that I wanted to purchase.  It took quite a while to make my way around the gallery, one piece of wall at a time.   All I can say is that people are incredibly imaginative and talented.  There are works on canvas and works on paper.  There are paintings done in oils and watercolor and crayon and pencil.  There are photographs and collages and three dimensional works.  There are works clearly done by accomplished artists and works clearly done by children.  Eventually, I found a work still available for purchase that wanted to go home with me.  (I was buyer number 22,953.)

Notes from the Coast #4
by Ge Ho Jo
On July 5th, the names of artists whose works had sold were disclosed to purchasers.  Since my purchase was after this date,  I was able to find out immediately that the work I bought was painted by Ge Ho Jo from Witter, Arkansas.  It is entitled "Notes from the Coast #4" and the medium is acrylic on vinyl wallpaper with a found photo.  I would love to know how someone from Arkansas ended up contributing to the show.  RoCo provided me with the artist's contact information in addition to the details of the 6 x 6 so I might actually get in touch with him.

 Maggie has been inspired to make at least one piece for next year's show, and if I can overcome my fear of trying to do something artistic, I might give it a try as well.   Here's a link to the works included in this year's show if you're interested in seeing the wide variety of what was included in the exhibit.  Maybe you want to submit one yourself!  Either way, if you're in Rochester next June, make sure that you make time to visit the RoCo's 6 x 6 x 2014 exhibition.

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