Curtis Cuffie

by Alan Moore
June 1992

The street artist whose con-
structions have bemused
Cooper Square area residents
for a year or more has had
mounted a one-man show in
the elegant upstairs rooms of the
East Village supper club. In this
exuberant gathering, some twenty
draped and festooned armatures
evince distinctive personalities as
Cuffie's touch--his choices from the
city's bounty of refuse--conjoins the
antique and the garish new.
Cuffie is a stylist of exceptional
talent and versatility. The basic
step in building a work for him
seems to grow out of adorning the
self--he is always strikingly
dressed. Then, as he festoons an ar-
mature with ties, belts, bows, scar-
ves, skirts, wigs, hats, clothes
hangers and stuffed animals, a per-
sonage, or couple, or group comes
into being.

Some works with a few stark ele-
ments include an untitled wooden
stand with a fancy cast iron base,
and atop it a mop head with a plas-
tic knit cap; below the mop hangs a
penguin doll and a pair of ice
skates. The simplest is the gaudy
standout, a tripod wrapped with
gold foil stuck on with orange neon
tape, a peasant-style broom tied to
one leg. Cuffie, who matches his
artworks with an engaging cryptic
and personal wit, named this piece
"New York", said freelance curator
Kenny Schachter, who (with Flamingo
owner, Darrell Maupin) organized the
show. "He said, 'All that gold and so much
free space."'

Flamboyant and poignant,
Cuffie's works are fragile, tenuous
in their hold on sculptural identity.
They fall apart easily, and once
they have been disassembled,
they're junk again. But as I sat in
the closed gallery watching actors
rehearse their lines and costumers
at work on an upcoming show at
the club, Cuffie's sculptures seemed
the perfect backdrop for such ar-
chetypical bohemian activity: open,
inclusive, and making-do brilliant-
ly. His works are compelling.

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