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Stephen Maine to Cut Up and Give Away Hunks of Monumental Painting in Connecticut Show

Stephen Maine with Fire and Ice, 2018, at Icehouse Project Space.


In what he has dubbed “a Dada happening,” artist Stephen Maine is planning to divvy up and distribute sections of his site-specific painting Fire and Ice, which has been on view at Icehouse Project Space in Sharon, Connecticut since October 6. At 10-feet-tall and 45-feet-wide, the immersive work currently covers the walls of the artist-run space, which was established by KK Kozik.

The event, scheduled for Saturday, November 3, from 4 to 6 p.m., is open to the public, and the invitation for it bears a unique disclaimer: “BYO stretcher.” Visitors will be able to choose a segment of the work—proportional to the size of their empty stretcher bars—that they wish to take home. The artist will sign and date the individual pieces as they are sliced.

Integral to the event, Maine told ARTnews, is a demonstration of “emotional energy” from the audience. “My rule is that a person has to do their part and show up to get a part of it,” he said.

“I want no one to leave empty handed,” Maine continued. “Ideally, we’ll have a little assembly line going. It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out. It might be that it brings out a certain avariciousness in people—that would be a shame. Or it might be that people will get into the spirit of sharing.”

As the gallery’s name suggests, Icehouse Project Space’s home was once a storage space for ice harvested from the nearby Mudge Pond during the 19th century. The ice trade of that period—wherein ice was cut into blocks and shipped to locations across the world before it melted—was a source of inspiration for the upcoming performance.

“It’s anti-market in a way,” Maine said of the event. “But being anti-market is kind of like being anti-gravity. You can’t get away from it, but even a brief period of weightlessness would be pretty exciting. Ultimately, I decided that the most radical thing would be to not ask for any money at all.”

The artist told me that he may reassemble the fragments of Fire and Ice in a future exhibition. With that intention in mind, he plans to record the names and contact information of visitors who stake claims to parts of the painting.

Maine has no definite plans for any remaining pieces of the work.

“I hope there won’t be any,” he said.

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