The Consultant puts a $ value on the Art Crawl: Performance art alarms, amuses

Photos by One Gus Eckstein 
Hamilton, Ont. June 11 | With recent community issues in the James Street North area involving gentrification and the arts community, a surprise performance art work at Art Crawl evokes a specter of speculation for these galleries and their public.

The consultant on James Street during the June 10, 2011 Hamilton Art Crawl

If you know your eastern Ontario art history, you may remember Ottawa-based The Consultant from series such as “How to appropriate real estate from an old lady and develop condominiums on it” and documentaries such as “How to effectively eliminate arts budgets for your city”.

Now, apparently, it was Hamilton’s turn to attract the critical and conservative eye of this artist (and in collaboration with One Gus Eckstein no less). Embarking on a valuation spree, The Consultant assessed galleries by 1) storefront visibility 2) quality of art and 3) suitability for redevelopment as retail and condominium space. Gallery staff were handed a valuation form at the end of the inspection.

Reactions varied but generally the gallery culture was confused, reserved and somewhat alarmed. One entrance caused two children to flee in panic and almost resulted a damaged art work. This effect was unintentional. One gallery administrator yelled afterwards “is this performance art!?”

This is the only photo of One Gus Eckstein known to exist.

The general public was more festive in their interactions with The Consultant, and a few clued in right away to the detached and aloof nature of the performance. There was some fear in the throngs looking for the quaint aspect of art as the two costumed men involved are over 6’4″ and combine for over 500 pounds of artist.

a random public collaboration with one of The Consultant's valuation forms.

A taunting fan of the performance earned a valuation form from The Consultant. The foppish young man responded by re-branding The Consultant as “Punch Bot” and re-purposing the valuation form as a collaborative public sculpture.

This is hopefully the beginnings of more performance art and costumes on the streets and spaces of art crawl.

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