In Search of Famousiness at RoCo’s 6X6X2016

In Search of Famousiness at RoCo’s 6X6X2016

Fool's Gold 2

“Fool’s Gold” (6×6) by a very, very famous artist, unfinished [owned by David Kramer]

As you may know, the annual 6×6 exhibition opens Saturday June 4th at Rochester Contemporary. Described in D & C stories, this year’s exhibition, titled “6x6x2016,” contains nearly 6,000 pieces from as far away as Turkey, Abu Dhabi and New Zealand. All artworks are signed on the back and exhibited anonymously.


During our investigative reporting, Bleu Cease (right) kept us at arms length, not giving an inch. [Photo: Becca, RoCo staff] 5/31/16

Every piece sells for $20 with all proceeds benefitting the gallery. Participants can purchase “tickets” before hand — then raffled off to the lucky winners allowed, for a limited amount of time, to select pieces before the general onrush of buyers.

In the past, famous artists like Wendell Castle, Albert Paley and Carl Chiarenza have donated valuable artwork for the good cause.

To further this good cause, earlier this year Talker commissioned a very famous artist to create a work to be titled, “Fool’s Gold,” destined to be borderline priceless. Alas, the very famous artist was called away to do to some touch up work on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. So “Fool’s Gold” remains unfinished.


Alice Neel started work on James Hunter Black Draftee in 1965, but Mr. Hunter never came back for a second sitting.

But unfinished itself is a relative term. According to an NPR May 31st program, “You Gonna Finish That?”, unfinishedness can be a virtue or opportunity, even inviting the viewer to imagine the completed work in his or her mind. Just as “Fool’s Gold” does.

For example, in a work bearing some tonal similarity with “Fool’s Gold,” in 1965, the American painter Alice Neel was working on a portrait of James Hunter, an African-American draftee nearing deployment in Vietnam. But Hunter never returned for a second sitting. But ten years later, Neel decided the work was finished, put a title on the back, and signed James Hunter Black Draftee.  In many ways, the power of the work is drawn from its sketchiness — not unlike Hunter himself about whom nothing more is known.

That in mind, while “Fool’s Gold” will not now be in the 6×6 exhibition, we still offer the piece to the general public — VFA’s name withheld of course —  with proceeds going to RoCo.

With “Fool’s Gold’s” out of the running, some pre-raffle investigative journalism was in order: in search of what might be other works by VFAs.

But the mission was no easy one. As Stephen Colbert might say, how do you know famousiness when you see it?

I began by interrogating  Blue Cease, Roco’s Executive Director.  Last year, Bleu had invited me for a fab photo op culminating in Art and a fumbled football merge at Rochester Contemporary Art Center. But Bleu was determined not to play press favorites. Peppering him with questions and pestering him for clues, Bleu was poker faced, revealing nothing as to which works were the Aces of Spades.  Bleu only told me that VFA Alex Lerner, as well as locals Mayor Lovely Warren, Congresswoman Louise Slaughter and Anchorwoman Janet Lomax, had 6×6’s in the show.

featuired pic

(l-r) David Kramer, Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren, and Nazareth College’s Dr. David Anderson. From On the Memorial Day Parade and The Army of the Republic of Viet Nam


Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren’s 6×6

Not shirking my critical responsibilities, I almost immediately knew there was no way I could spot a VFA. As you will be, I become lost in cornucopia for the eyes, a maze of superb artworks: abstract, figurative, multi-dimensional, multi-media, graphic, photographic. Too many candidates from which to choose. VFA clueless.

As I had had a fab photo op with Mayor Warren at the Memorial Day Parade, I did canvas the walls for her contribution. Hmm, clue, Mayor of Rochester.  Her piece must be something Rochester. Impossible to imagine Lovely using a theme other than Rochester.

As for my other selections, I went by first impressions resonating with my own experiences. That’s the pleasure you’ll take. Matching your stream of associations with the 6,000 artworks on the walls.

Right was my first choice. No, not to keep your prurient attention — though I know Talker readers (and writers) well.

A month or so ago, one of our contributing editors wrote a tasteful and thoughtful essay on the recent Rochester Erotic Arts Festival. A short time after the essay’s appearance, viewers using computer servers in the RCSD received this message when accessing the magazine: “Sorry, is not currently accessible because its categorized as adult.bodyart.

The grammatical error in the message aside, we believe the RCSD filtering software targeted pictures in the essay as inappropriate. Actually, the pictures were less revealing than the 6×6 nude. Efforts to resolve the issue so far have failed. So — as long as Talker is categorized as adult.bodyart — we might as well go for the full female monty.


“Whatever” by Sarah Levy, from A Trumpreneur at Trumpmania

trumpHaving been to the exhibit at the Rochester Museum of Art, a Trump beckoned. see A Trumpreneur at Trumpmania, .bernie

But, as we have throughout the campaign, see On seeing my first Trump supporters outside the Bug Jar, Bernie gets equal time.

I chose the Yogi Berra because Yogi was my father’s 80th birthday gift. On Yogi Berra and Dale Berra and the 1973 World Series and Willie Mays and my father yogi

I chose the Rochester Subway because I hope the wall art is not ruined. Love and hope in the Rochester Subwaysubway

I chose the football because I was wearing my Cleveland Browns shirt from our last fab photo op at RoCo.

sahdi working

VFA creating

One work I could not physical locate, but maybe you can. Done by a VFA you know well. shadi done

UPDATE: we received this comment (from another VFA you know well).

June 3 at 8:06am Shadi is the VFA! Good work, Shadi! I hope you finish Fool’s Gold. Looks like you have an excellent start…


Tall friends come in handy at RoCo’s 6×6 raffle

ON THE ANDERSON ARTS BUILDING  includes discussion with Robert Marx on when he knows he’s finished.

A kicking First Friday at Anderson Arts Building

About The Author

Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


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