Perhaps best known for his traveling one-ball show, RedBall, Kurt Perschke is a modern artistpar excellence.
Though photographs might give an alternate impression, RedBall is in fact just one piece, moving from place to place throughout the world. At 250 pounds and 15 feet (the height of a typical semi), it is no small task to get it where it needs to go. Inflation and deflation take about 40 minutes each, with varying results for the final result. Sometimes the ball is free-standing, sometimes smashed into small spaces or between walls, sometimes suspended in the air. Perschke calls it an opportunity to engage with the public – people get to interact with it, touch it, push on it, jump against it.
“The humor and charisma of the piece allow it access to the city and invite others in to its story,” he said. “I think it’s essential for public work to do more than be ‘outdoors’ – it needs to live in the pubic imagination. Scale, tactility, physical presence, these are all tools of sculpture and here they are used as an invitation.”
Though the project got its official start in St. Louis as a commissioned piece, Perschke was frustrated with the limitations imposed upon it. “So I took it to Barcelona on my own dime, got some new friends there to help out, and did it illegally in most of the Barcelona sites,” he said. “Those pictures led to press and some big commissions, the real start.” Since then it has traveled the world, making stops in Sydney, Abu Dhabi, Norwich, Taipei, Grand Rapids, Toronto, Chicago, Scottsdale, and right here in Portland, Oregon.
Despite RedBall’s notoriety, that is not all Perschke does. A true Renaissance man, he splits his time between videos, sculptures, drawings, prints, public projects. But no matter what he’s working on, the most important thing to him is not material, but rather the spark that necessitates its use. “I use whatever the idea needs,” he said. “The idea chooses the material.”