Inspired by the Southern landscape, the work of visionary “outsiders,” agriculture, social and environmental ironies, New Orleans artist W. Steve Rucker specializes in creating imaginative installations.
Steve Rucker’s colorful installations are humorous commentaries on diverse social maladies, reminiscent of works by Claes Oldenburg – an acknowledged model – but informed sensibilities peculiar to the rural South.
Leave it to W. Steve Rucker to transform a still and sterile gallery into a tank teeming with colorful fish and jumbo pencils, so very reminiscent of the playful non-team of Disney and Oldenburg, respectively. No doubt Rucker is thinking about many things in his environmental Think Tank in the Arthur Roger Gallery Project space housed in the glitzy Renaissance Hotel down on Tchoupitoulas.
From the start, Steve Rucker pushed the limits of ceramics. His first show featured unglazed clay and willow sticks; later he torched large-scale wood and clay sculptures – “site specific burns” – on levees around New Orleans.
At first glance the room seems cluttered with wildly disparate icons, the detritus of western culture: ceramic pencils, mirrors, piano keys, floppy disks, dollar bills, musical notes, hamburgers, coffee cups, religous symbols.
Anything goes in today’s art world – and frequently the first thing to go are the distinctions between painting, sculpture, architecture and other traditional disciplines. The resulting cross-breeds are tagged with the vague label of “installation art”, and encompass works whose only shared purpose is the attempt to create a total, theatrical environment from the sanitized spaces of the contemporary gallery.
Nature is a master of multiples, manifesting her prowess with seemingly endless rounds of encore performances. A tree’s bounty of leaves, flowers and fruits not only conveys a sense of well being, but ensures future survival.