Monday, August 09, 2010

angel i'll walk you home

Blake Gopnik visited Dan Steinhilber during his summer residency at Socrates Sculpture Park in Queens...where the artist is inviting the general public to come, lie down in the sand, and move their arms and legs in order to create sand angels. Steinhilber casts the resulting shapes in concrete and places them around the park. Read all about it here.

I've written about Dan in 2008
here, and in the WCP in December of 2006 for a review of Numark Gallery's very last show...which appears to be in a part of the archive that's no longer available online, so I'll quote it here:

In the case of Dan Steinhilber, at least, there’s no need for ambivalence; he’s long been a master of the reductive, playful gesture with cleverly arranged found objects, reliably provoking a forehead-slapping, why-couldn’t-I-think-of-that? feeling in his viewers. Untitled (2004) is exactly that sort of a sculptural one-liner, poised just so between stupidity and elegance: A white plastic oscillating fan sits on the bare concrete floor, unceremoniously plugged into a nearby outlet. It blows a continuous stream of air through the grille of its twin—another fan, directly facing the first a mere 2 or 3 inches away. The second fan isn’t plugged in; its blades turn in reverse, responding to the breeze generated by the first. Its power cord sits in a slack little bundle, wandering in and out of a groove in the floor. Again, there’s so little manipulation here—yet it’s an allusive artistic intervention, speaking to relationships, both professional and personal, as well as ideas of influence and original thought. Steinhilber is something of a D.C. art star; all it takes is this one minimal gesture to remind us why.

Anyway, Blake's article starts out promising to be a retrospective/inventory of Steinhilber's career, but mostly glosses over this and settles on what should be more interesting to local art folks, anyway: the viewer-participation-required project he's been cooking up in Long Island City. While the project to a certain extent sounds like classic Steinhilber--a gentle, humorous, fairly populist gesture that potentially could feel like a one-liner, but possesses more grace and sticks with you much longer than you'd expect--the interactive element seems new, and is exactly the
sort of thing I like.

I agree with Blake. How about a local museum mid-career retrospective for Dan? Who's gonna pony up the space? Might seem a little early, but by the time the show got into the planning stages, the timing would turn out just about right, I think. Hey, I'd volunteer our building--I've wanted to do a building-wide show for one mid-career artist since I arrived at AAC--but I think this one needs to be somewhere mall-ish.


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