It was a near victory this weekend for Team F.R,Y! (Frying Rocketship, Yes!) at the 3rd Art Olympic Theater. The "Olympics" are a two-hour competition which pits three teams of four artists against each other in a race to create "Art" out of a pile of random junk in two whirlwind hours. The event is the brainchild of Pittsburgh artist Tom Sarver, who was kind enough to ask me to spearhead a team this April. Teams are encouraged to be ridiculous, and with this in mind I recruited local art-slingers and trusted cohorts Ally Reeves, Greg Witt, and Joey Hays.
Our plan was simple: in two hours, we would 1.) build a Rocketship, and 2.) deep fry some food. Teams were allowed to bring one suitcase full of tools and props, so we brought a (massive) suitcase filled with potatoes, a jug of vegetable oil, my roommate's Fry Daddy, a fresh bottle of Heinz ketchup, and around 1000 feet of mylar (the basis of any serious Rocketship).
The competition was fierce - somehow I managed to hold down the Fry Station for the full two hours while the rest of the team furiously rendered a spaceship from who-knows-what (and mylar). I took orders, gave people tickets, and fried everything from yam slices to Oreos while the cacophony of the night boiled all around us. It felt like the whole competition went by in ten minutes, and I can honestly say this is one of the most overwhelming things I've done in awhile. I don't even remember how we decided on frying food for people as part of our performance, but it was a hit. Frannie (the young girl kneeling next to me in the picture above) decided we were the best show going, and sat next to the Fry Station for almost the whole evening even though she didn't want to order anything (I gave her a few cookies).
We had a secret weapon buried inside the Rocketship - a sort of potato gun rigged with confetti and packing peanuts. During the final countdown, Joey emerged from the crowd in a chariot made from a Tupperware storage bin and, using a foam lance, charged and toppled the Rocket with Greg inside... who managed to pull the switch and blow most of the peanuts before keeling over in front of the audience. I then called out Bill Daniel's order for fried pickles on our megaphone - the last order of the evening - and we were history. I actually thought that destroying the ship was going to cost us the trophy, but the judges were apparently blinded by the sheer volume of mylar and the incredibly overpowering smell of frying food. I hope they were able to open some windows the next day and air the place out a bit...
Team "Air on the Square" (or was it "Mayor on the Square"?) traveled all the way over from Philadelphia and somehow managed to place last, probably due to some heavy-handed anti-Philly bias from the homegrown judges. They were Anton Lieberman , Shaun Baer, Joseph DiGiuseppe and Christopher Golas. The winning team, "Ed", was Kerri LaCharite Andrea Shockling, Louis P. Taylor and Dave Schewe.
You can watch a nice time lapse video of the night from filmmaker Keith Tassick, who was on hand filming the evening for a future documentary. Our square is on the far left, the team from Philly is in the middle (and about everywhere else), and "Ed" is on the far right. The whole event took place at the Union Project, an incredible old church that has been renovated into a community space. The photos I've posted here were generously taken by Ashley Brickman, who showed up in a sequined onesy with F.R,Y! emblazoned in felt on the back. You can't ask for more team spirit than that.