The 17 acrylic on canvas paintings on view at Galerie Protégé are based on Steve Rockwell’s “Color Match Game.” Created in 1987, the game was first played competitively in 1999, when it was introduced to resident artists at Omi International Arts Center in Upstate New York. As a guest speaker at Omi, Rockwell introduced Color Match as an Aesthetic Olympics, the artists coming literally from across the globe. The jury of judges, Rockwell recalls, included Art Omi founder Francis Greenburger and Linda Cross. On view at Galerie Protégé are paintings of three of the winning games, featuring players from USA, Brazil, and Argentina. The gold medal winners here turned out to be Americans Steve Mumford and John Powers. Over the years, tournaments have been held in New York City, Miami Beach, Los Angeles, and Toronto.
Although the playing of Color Match is inherently no more complicated than a colorized tic-tac-toe, the resulting variables of each played game, are infinitely more complex. Each game board records a specific moment in time and place between two players. They constitute, in effect, “a conversation in color.”
Color Match Game in its inception was part of a group of information-based works that included “Gallery Space” and “The Steve Rockwell Sandwich.” Each have in common a set of rules (or recipe) that govern a given outcome, the exercise of each resulting in innumerable variations. Rockwell’s source of inspiration had been a single Sol Lewitt wall drawing, “The Location of a Square” (1975).
Rockwell’s 1989 exhibited floor sculpture “Gallery Space” was based on visits to 64 Toronto galleries. His 1996 book work “Meditations on Space” was global in scope with visits to 175 galleries in Europe and North America. It would lead to the publication of “dArt International” magazine in 1998. The color game, sandwich, and magazine fulfill another aspect of the artist’s oevre, a seesaw between function and non-function in art. Behind Rockwell’s art is a playable board game, an edible sandwich, and a readable magazine.