Wade Guyton

by Bill Arning

Wade Guyton, Untitled (Stage), 1998, parquet wood floor, 16 × 15 × 5 feet.

MFA shows are little jewel boxes full of promise. I always have faith that the next artist to shake things up a bit is there, somewhere, if I am only willing to do the legwork. So each year I make the local rounds—Hunter, New York University, the School of Visual Arts, Parsons. Most of what one finds is underdeveloped, but sometimes there is a surprise. I was prowling Hunter when I found this strange arrangement of a rug, chairs, wrapped presents, and different colored eyeglasses through which one examined the gift boxes. Not a resolved piece, but worth making note of: artist, Wade Guyton.

A few months later, I return and see something that makes my heart race—Guyton again. He had built a huge, 15-foot square parquet dance floor, six feet off the ground. It was installed so as to block the gallery’s front door. Heads bobbed on the other side: the party was over there, if you could find the way in. Minimal in form, art-historically loaded, the work invited one to cut a rug while interdicting the pleasure with its massive intrusiveness. One could clamber over the structure—occasionally someone did—but I found the back door instead.

Shortly thereafter I saw Guyton’s dance floor cube again in a show at Andrew Kreps Gallery. Here, in a group show exploring quadrants, it took up one quarter of the gallery space. As it was less menacing in this context, I climbed up on it. You couldn’t really dance on it without banging your head, but the piece provided an oddly resonant experience. I have seen only a few of Guyton’s other works, such as a dummy pair of old-fashioned stereo speakers, yet everything points to a smartly evasive young conceptualist. Guyton reminds me that there will always be a pithy next move to be found in the best of each year’s crop.

—Bill Arning

installations (visual works)
Summer 1999
The cover of BOMB 68