Sidewalk Art-making on 17th St.

Here are a few pictures from an installation performance by the Picasso Extended Collective in October, 2009. Franklin Wassmer created the basic score for this inspired by our host — the Picasso Gallery and Frame Store on 17th Street NW in Washington, D.C. As we planned this event the focus was quite open, but my impression is that we were all excited by the chance to enliven the ordinary experience of walking down the street; to capture people into the world of art. The physical presence of the frames, and the invitations to participate with the frames, encouraged people to see the world in a slightly different, playful, way.

There were a few projects within the basic concept. Andrea and others made lists of actions which participants could pick to do – like fortune cookies. The last image in this group is one of them – go across the street and purchase something while wearing a frame. Rogelio created a focus within the evening by arriving decked in balloons, a boombox, and frames; the artist arriving.

This was not intended as a “powerful” or “deep” experience and we didn’t take ourselves too seriously planning it or executing it. I wonder how many planned “powerful” and “deep” art experiences really end up being that way for participants – audience or performers? I see how people really enjoyed the experience in many of the pictures. It was even something they could do together. I don’t think we could call this “high art”, and I’m not even certain if I’d call it “art” at all, but I think the project worked in a simple, joyful way, outside of those judgments and boundaries. Click here to see a post about another project I performed with this group.

Author: Robert Bettmann

Founder of Day Eight, and the DC Arts Writing Fellowship.