Inflatable man visits downtown Pittsburg

Nina Criscuolo of KOAM 7, a CBS station, braved the wet and cold to shoot video of my inflatable suit performance trek down Broadway in in Pittsburg. She followed me down the street documenting my visits to fast food restaurant parking lots as well as the reactions of the people of Pittsburg. Nina also reports for the local FOX station KFJX 14.

Link to the story on KOAM:
http://www.koamtv.com/global/story.asp?s=11861162

Link to the story on KFJX:
http://www.fox14tv.com/Global/story.asp?S=11861162

Pittsburg Inflatable Suit Performance

Jimmy Kuehnle dons an inflatable suit on the campus of Pittsburg State University

Rain showers and chilly weather greeted me in the morning. The forecast said that the rain would stop in time for the performance. Although the rain stopped the ground still had plenty of mud and puddles to mess up my shoes. After talking with some local students I took the inflatable suit outside of Porter Hall and began to inflate it.

Even though I refer to these pieces as inflatable suits, the suit part of the name does not seem to register in the audience’s minds until I put one on. This held true in Pittsburg as well. I careened into lampposts and jumped up on benches while chasing students around the center of campus. When classes changed I blocked a door to one of the halls for a bit.

I made my way to Broadway and noticed a camera crew trudging along behind me. The wind made progress up the street slow, but since it was lunch time the fast food restaurants were full. At each face stuffing establishment I slammed into the windows and looked into the eyes of smiling but perplexed diners. Many people came outside to snap pictures.

As I took a break at 4th and Broadway the intrepid camera crew from earlier caught up with me and asked for an interview. It turns out that they were from the local FOX and CBS affiliates. Part of the work is connecting with other people that I do not know and searching for the humanity in this world. I did a little of both in Pittsburg. As I stood wet and tired on the side of the road a local woman who said that I made her day asked if I needed a lift. I said, “Sure, and thanks.”

Things Bigger Than People – Exhibition

Art exhibition announcement post card for an inflatable installation

Tomorrow I will install an inflatable installation called, Things Bigger Than People, at Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, Kansas. The show will consist of two pieces and a public performance. Air to Air Communication and Stuffed Full will inflate into the University Gallery and the Harry Krug Gallery. On the same day I will roam the streets of Pittsburg in You Wear What I Wear and will give an artist talk in the afternoon.

Link to Exhibition Card

Exhibition: January 21 – February 26, 2010

Gallery Hours: M – F 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Performance
January 21, 2010
Porter Hall, 11:30 am

Reception
January 21, 2010
Porter Hall, 3:00 pm

Lecture
January 21, 2010
Room 316 Hughes Hall, 2:00 pm

Pittsburg State University
Art Department
University Gallery, Porter Hall
1701 S. Broadway, Pittsburg, KS 66762

St. Louis Inflatable Suit Performance

Inflatable performance art under the Gateway Arch in Saint Louis

On a calm day under the Gateway Arch I unpacked Big Red for perhaps its last performance. The suit shows the wounds and scars from many exciting performances. My first performance in St. Louis served as a fitting tribute to a joyful companion. Luckily the wind cooperated and allowed the suit to bound gracefully around the city.

A group of spectators awaited the inflation of the suit and more gathered as the red cones thrust into the sky. After spinning around the Arch grounds I headed toward the Old Courthouse on Market Street. Security guards at the courthouse did not know if they should take pictures with their cell phones or call for backup as I climbed the stairs to smash into the tall columns. They decided to smile and take pictures. Perplexed businessmen going to lunch attempted to dodge between parking meters and cars as I confronted them on the sidewalk.

I turned on 16th Street toward Washington Avenue. As the streets narrowed I abandoned the sidewalk and took a lane of traffic when necessary. A sign caught one of the spikes and I needed to tie it of to keep the suit inflated. As a I approached the river another sign attached to a lamppost tore a large hole in the suit and I let it deflate.

Later in the afternoon, Andrew James of the Good Citizen Gallery hosted a casual meet and greet for me. There I took out You Wear What I Wear and ran around Gravois. I enjoyed meeting everyone at the gallery. Thank you to Andrew for the reception and than you to everyone that came out for the performance. I hope you enjoyed it.

Chicago Inflatable Suit Performance

Jimmy Kuehnle squeezes under scaffolding in his inflatable suit

The windy city survived an inflatable invasion. After a little hold up in traffic I exited the East Monroe Parking Garage around 12:04 with my suit and battery pack in hand. Stephanie Anderson of Time Out Chicago met me at Grant Park with her camera. She followed along snapping pictures for most of the performance and put up a nice photo gallery on The TOC Blog. As I started to inflate You Wear What I Wear a passerby, Brad Bretz, asked if it was an art project, to which I replied, “Sure, why not?” He decided to tag along with his camera and put up a Flickr gallery of photos from the performance. I popped into the suit and crossed Monroe over to the Art Institute’s new Modern building where some school children were having lunch. They soon forgot about food as I bounced past the large glass windows. Many of the children jumped from their seats and ran back and forth with me along the length of the windows.

Andrew Hickey, a baker and photographer, caught up with the commotion on Michigan Avenue. Andrew and I missed each other in Grand Rapids during ArtPrize, so I really enjoyed meeting him during the Chicago performance. He also brought his camera and put up a nice Flickr photo set. Early into the performance a group of teenage boys asked if they could pass out my business cards. They did a good job handing them to every person on the sidewalk. The streets of Chicago had a lot of pedestrians which meant that try as I may we were going to bump into each other. Most took this extremely well and enjoyed the experience laughing and smiling. A friendly police officer even asked if I needed any help navigating traffic.

Nothing stood in my way including buses, scaffolding, street signs, stairs, fire hydrants, subway entrances or shoppers’ heads. I bumped into them all. Upon sight of the suit bums stopped jingling their coin cups and stared with a puzzled smile on their faces. Even a street shouter droning on about the wretched state of the economy took a reprieve to exercise his grinning muscles. In various restaurants spoons full of soup paused on the way to their respective happy owners’ mouths. Traveling along the line between the shocking and the absurd the performance was not categorizable and therefore penetrated the thought patterns of the audience allowing for new human connections and interactions. I had a lot of fun too.