RedBall Project lightens mood on dreary days

The RedBall visited the Rourke Art Gallery + Museum Tuesday, part of a citywide performance art project. Viewers’ reactions were part of the experience, like these two youngsters marveling at the 15-foot inflated ball on the museum’s steps. (Photo/Russ Hanson)

Nancy Edmonds Hanson
hansonnanc@gmail.com
The 15-foot, 250-pound red ball didn’t pick the brightest days for its bounce around Fargo-Moorhead this week … but it brought plenty of smiles as it rolled around sites in the cities.
Kurt Perschke’s performance art spent six days brightening up some of the area’s most iconic architecture –the Plains Museum, the Great Plains Bicycle Company (old Great Northern Depot), the entrance gateway of Minnesota State University Moorhead, the NP Depot, the Rourke Art Gallery + Museum, and the Fargo Theatre. It bumped into a problem only once, when a scheduled roll across the pedestrian bridge between Gooseberry and Lindenwood Parks was derailed by a leak that deflated it.
Even that misadventure fit into the spirit behind the traveling performance artwork, which began its journey in St. Louis and Barcelona at the turn of the 21st century. Perschke explains that the public’s reaction to the incongruous appearance of a giant inflated sphere in a familiar landscape is his real creation – not the ball itself. It sets off observers’ imagination, he explains on his website: “Through the magnetic, playful, and charismatic nature of the RedBall, the work is able to access the imagination embedded in all of us,” he explains on his website.
The RedBall is considered the world’s longest-running street art project, according to Wikipedia. Created as a public art installation in St. Louis in 2001, it has traveled to almost 30 locations in its 17-year travels – from Australia, Canada and England to Abu Dhabi. The artist has photographed reactions of those who spot it and posts them on his website, redballproject.org.
Brad Bachmeier of MSUM batted around the idea of a visit by the big ball to Andy Maus of the Plains after discovering Perschke’s work online. The artist himself scouted the communities last summer looking for high-visibility, high-traffic sites to catch the public’s eye. It did just that, even though chilly, damp weather threw a pall over some visits. Hundreds of people, including crowds of kids, visited it, many of them following it around town. A bright October sun may be missing in the countless photographs and selfies taken as it bounced around, but smiles light up every one.

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