Friday, January 30, 2009

Meet yer Maykr: Steve Rossi

I stopped into Steve Rossi's studio in December as he was readying the work now on exhibit in his exhibit In an Effort to Convalesce at Go North through Feb 8.
The works I saw that evening have been joined in the Go North exhibit by photographs of his Hexagon Based Islamic Mosaicsmade of cereal.

Early in 2008, Judy Sigunick of Ellenville wrote on her blog about a visit she had made to Steve's previous studio. In her post, Judy included a quote from Steve's project proposal which developed into the mobile sculpture pictured above called 'Entirely New Through and Through'.
I'm interested in creating a mobile sculpture out of slip-cast porcelain automobile hood ornaments… For me, using porcelain to recreate this object speaks to the vulnerabilities many feel, especially in this Hudson Valley area, where the manufacturing base has collapsed and people still living in this area are wondering what sort of economic systems will be coming in to replace the industry
base, if any.

To my mind, Steve's work resides in the areas where the problematic and political rub up against the average citizen's daily life. These areas, well worn as they are, exist as if invisible in plain view. That hood ornaments share the same enticing line as military aircraft is not surprising. That those jet fighter/hood ornaments carry the fine crackle glaze and porcelain fragility of grandma's tchochke allude to how we are marketed to in a way that prompts us to covet the virtues of some ordained nick knack, be it on a consumer or even geopolitical scale. Rossi's work is a spinning yin and yang of those things that give us comfort and those things that scare us, or at least concern us enough not to want to think about. Seeing one's Honey Nut Cheerios or Foot Loops arrayed in the form of Islamic mosaic patterns or desert camo imply more than any of us wants to deal with in the morning. They're subtle insinuations that result in an intrusion into our domestic tedium. It's a tedium, by the way, that I relish. I embrace the main stream marketing milieu I was raised in. But I also appreciate the ironic incongruities They'd rather we citizens not see. Affinities shared by the mundane and the ominous, are highlighted in the unions of image and material that are presented in Steve's work.

Above and below: 'And then at a certain point'

With no disrespect intended to either party, Steve Rossi is like the Andy Rooney of idea based artmaking. No, his eyebrows are not an overgrown white bushy snarl that looks like a couple of sea anemones trolling for unsuspecting prey. And he's also not a hunched over fellow who's back is so bent that his eyeballs must roll up into his forehead to a point that recalls an image from the Excorcist just to look straight ahead. In fact, Steve's posture seems quite good. Rather, I make the comparison because to my mind, Steve takes the common place, and in a normal, "Did you ever notice how....." kind of way, he offers a slightly divergent, but still entirely indigenous read on a given subject.
A good illustration of this idea is Steve's contribution to the Kamp Maykr Exhibit and Brunch held here at the Kamp Maykr Compound last May.

His untitled Easter-hued pairing of Adirondack chairs resting under the dappled shade of camo netting atop the brow of a rise that looks down onto the Spire Studios building left open the possibility that any brunch attendees who chose to sit in those chairs could just as easily train their cross hairs on the unsuspecting artists exiting the building as enjoy the garden and the view on a sunny afternoon.

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