You Wear What I Wear hit the streets of Houston starting at Sam Houston Park. Houston is a great city for the arts and I enjoy doing public performances there. As usual for a Friday lunch break, the public was ready for action. The next and final stop on the Texas tour is in Dallas on April 2nd at 12:00 noon. I will start outside of Akard Station (Akard St and Pacific Ave) and then head into the city.
The performance began at the corner of Cesar Chavez Street and Congress Avenue. Due to the SXSW Festival I had to further south on Congress and walk across the bridge. The sun beat down on the street and people crammed the cafes and restaurants. As I made my way toward the capitol I slammed into traffic lights, trash cans, storefront windows, buses and just about everything else. I met some people during the trek and filled the tiny screens of cell phone cameras. It has been almost a year since I performed in Austin in Big Red and was sucked into a parking garage by the wind. This time You Wear What I Wear braved the wind and did not falter once.
Next week I will be performing in Houston, Texas. The performance starts at 12:00 noon at Sam Houston Park on the 19th. Hope to see you there.
Jeanne Claire van Ryzin of the Austin American-Statesman interviewed me about the Austin stop of my Texas inflatable suit tour. As the article title states, the inflatable suit man is returning to Austin. Tomorrow I take You Wear What I Wear to the corner of Cesar Chavez Street and Congress Avenue and the charge into the city. The last time I trucked an inflatable suit to Austin was during the 2009 Fusebox Festival about a year ago. That time I faced my nemesis, strong winds. This time I am prepared with a nearly wind-proof inflatable suit.
News 4 WOAI ran a short segment during the 5:00 newscast about the San Antonio inflatable suit performance. The anchors Randy Beamer and Delaine Mathieu along with Jennifer Broome had a candid discussion about the work and even related it back to previous bicycle performances that I did in San Antonio. I appreciated Randy standing up for the arts and accurately describing my performance in a digestible sound bite without a TelePrompTer.
Randy Beamer: Alright now, this is what I was talking about before. People pretty shocked to see that bouncing around downtown tonight. You might be wondering what it is. Well it’s a guy wearing his inflatable suit. A performance artist, Jimmy Kuehnle, goes around the country performing for different cities, but why?
Delaine Mathieu: Cool, what does it do?
Beamer: Well, he actually got his MFA in sculpture from UTSA here and this is his performance art and the idea is strangers should interact more.
Jennifer Broome: And MFA would be Master of Fine Arts
Beamer: That would be Master of Fine Arts, I’m sorry.
Mathieu: But, what does it do?
Beamer: Well, it doesn’t — It gets you talking and interacting. It’s a performance art.
Mathieu: Like his bike.
Beamer: Yes, there was a bike here a few years back that we found the story on that we did and we — it —
Mathieu: Can’t tell you really what it said. — Not suitable for —
Beamer: Well it was a bike that spelled out a certain word that also got people talking.
FOX 29 sent a reporter and cameraman out to the Main Plaza to cover the San Antonio performance. Anchors Michael Valdez and Mileka Lincoln introduce the work by asking the audience how many times something bright and colorful runs into them. At the end the weather man makes a joke about someone giving the excuse of, “I saw a monster, I swear.” for why they wrecked their car.
Mileka Lincoln: Well finally from us tonight — you can run into a lot of colorful sights in downtown San Antonio.
Michael Valdez: But — Have you ever had one run into you? Meet performance artist, Jimmy Kuehnle, who unleashed his inflatable, You Wear What I Wear, suit on downtown this afternoon. The UTSA grad uses the suit to challenge himself and his unsuspecting audience to break out of their everyday routine. Kuehnle is on a tour of Texas right now, where he says he normally draws a lot of smiles and a lot of pictures.
Jimmy Kuehnle: We can categorize this. This is a fountain. We can categorize those cars. Those are cars we don’t pay a second thought to. But when we see something that — our brains can’t categorize then possibly we might have new thoughts or become vulnerable to new ways of thinking — and this is just one attempt to try to break through that repetitive consciousness each of us have
Valdez: Ah — How about that? Kuehnle says he has been breaking out his inflatable art for the past four years all over the nation. If you watch that whole video, really people are like complete unfazed by it.
Lincoln: Really? – I would have turned and run
Valdez: He like runs — He like runs into people and there just like, “Hm — alright.” — Here’s our Anthony Pittman with Maximum Sports — Antonio.
Lincoln: He would have run.
Anthony Pittman: Honey how did you wreck the car? Well, I thought I saw a monster. I’m serious. Oh, yeah –`
The Texas inflatable suit tour began in San Antonio on Friday. At the chime of noon from the bells of the Cathedral of San Fernando I unpacked my suit in the Main Plaza downtown. Camera crews from the local NBC and FOX stations met me and conducted a brief interview before I inflated the suit. After all questions were answered, I put the suit on and started blazing a trail though the plaza with cameramen in tow. Lunch time on Friday is a great time for performances because everyone is in a good mood. The next performance will be in Austin on March 12. It will start at 1st and Congress at 12:00 noon. Other cities on the tour include Houston and Dallas.
I am kicking off a Texas inflatable performance tour with a performance of You Wear What I Wear in San Antonio, Texas on February 26, 2010 at 12:00 p.m. The performance in San Antonio will begin in the main plaza downtown and will take an organic trip through the surrounding city. Other cities on the tour include Austin, Houston and Dallas.
I appeared on the KENS 5 Great Day San Antonio morning show to announce the start of the performance tour in San Antonio. Eileen Teves and I tried out two inflatable suits in the KENS 5 parking lot to open the show. The event on the 26th is free and open to the public. I hope to see you there.
Bridget Smith: People have been asking about Eileen. Eileen has been working on a lot of special projects.
Bill Taylor: Eileen Teves. — ya?
Smith: Yes, but Eileen is still here — she’s still here. And guess what? Today she is out in our parking lot. I don’t t know what she is doing or who she is with — but she is street beating honey.
Taylor: Uh oh — wiki, wiki wiki — wiki, wiki. — Does she do hip hop?
Eileen Teves: Wiki, wiki, wiki, wiki —
Smith: You know what? She does and she’s very good.
Smith: I want to say good morning to Eileen — EIleen.
Teves: Good morning — good morning. It’s good to see you guys
Smith: Good to see you too.
Taylor: Hi Eileen.
Smith: What’s going on?
Teves: I can’t believe Bill — well I can’t believe first of all Bill said, “Eileen? Eileen Tevis?” Of course.
Taylor: As opposed to that other Eileen.
Teves: All right — ok — so we’re live out here in the parking lot. I’ve got Jimmy Kuehnle here. He’s an artist — and can you believe this is his display right here — some beautiful, colorful inflatables. So talk about this Jimmy, you travel around town and you go inside here. So could you kinda go inside this inflatable right here?
Jimmy Kuehnle: Yeah, sure, no problem.
Teves: Ok — so, it only takes a couple seconds to get in — is that right? Look at that and already this is a work of art — and walking art. Whoa — So you guys can actually check out something like this downtown on Friday the 26th. Look at that, you got in you got out easily.
Kuehnle: Yes — yes.
Teves: So, tell us a little about it.
Kuehnle: Ok, so these are inflatable suits and I make them out of nylon and the point of them is to walk the line between the spectacle and the absurd.
Teves: Oh —
Kuehnle: So that way people’s minds become vulnerable to new thoughts and new ideas because they can’t categorize this like a tree or a car that they see normally.
Teves: Got it.
Kuehnle: They go, “What’s that?” and then suddenly it might change what they are going to do tomorrow or maybe next week. And, so it’s a lot of fun to do that.
Teves: There you have it and it looked like a lot of fun with you, and I want to see if I can try to get in.
Kuehnle: Sure, no problem.
Teves: Now, this is going to be my suit here.
Kuehnle: Yes — yes. So, let’s just knock it over
Teves: I don’t know if you guys are going to be able to see me so I just have to kinda have to — lean into it. — We only got a few more seconds here, Jimmy — so let’s go in there.
Kuehnle: Alright, go ahead.
Teves: Alright, let’s get in. Oh, my goodness.
Kuehnle: So, there you go, you’re in a suit.
Teves: Whoa — This is — this is intense. Can you guys see me? Wow.
Kuehnle: There you go
Teves: Alright, now all you do is walk around with this on you?
Kuehnle: I walk around, bang into buildings, say hello to the folks — have a good time.
Teves: This is interesting. If you would like to check out Jimmy Kuehnle’s display, he’s going to be out and about at Main Plaza — on Friday starting at noon.
Kuehnle: Friday the 26th
Teves: Ok, Friday the 26th at noon. So check him out. He’s going to be walking around so make sure you get there at noon and you follow him throughout downtown. He’s going to be taking a tour.
Kuehnle: Yes, taking a tour. It’s going to be a lot of fun.
Teves: Ok, well, there you have it. That’s my Street Beat. Back to you guys
Taylor: Eileen — Oh no — It was actually going over, did you see it?
Smith: I wonder how long after the live shot they are just going to hang out in there.
Taylor: Uh oh —
Smith: Just hang out in the balloon.
Taylor: Whoa — There she’s out — she’s out — she’s ok.
Smith: She’s like, “I’m done — and we’re clear.”
Taylor: Did you see the dismount? That was a ten. That was nice. She stuck the landing.
Smith: Thank you so much Eileen.
Link to video on KENS 5 website:
Shepard Smith: — Kansas. Check out this guy. He is a performance artist who hangs out in downtown Pitttsburg in an inflatable suit. The guy says he likes to surprise people and challenge their perceptions.
Jimmy Kuehnle: I make bicycles that are large and extravagant. I run for office sometimes, and I do anything that can just get out in the streets and change people’s way of thinking.
Smith: Good luck with that. And that is a Fox watch. Across America —
Link to Fox News clip:
Nikki Patrick of the Morning Sun interviewed my at the opening of Things Bigger Than People. The next day the Morning Sun published a nice article about the exhibition.
Link to the article: