San Francisco

R. Cedric Smith

Bank of America Plaza

An announcement arrived in the post informing me that Cedric Smith’s Loiter Piece was to take place in the plaza of the Bank of America from 11 a.m. until 6 o’clock. The postman had arrived well after noon, so I didn’t get there till mid-event. Smith had hired two hippies to go to the plaza and act as though they were loitering. They weren’t, of course, because they had been paid $1000 each to perform this service. The release had suggested that anyone could interview the hippies. When I arrived two girls were interviewing them. The girls informed them that everyone upstairs was talking about their little act, and that they themselves had run off innumerable copies of the announcement circular on the office reproduction machine and given them to people who wanted a copy. One hippie pointed out that there was a stamped notice on the circular to the effect that it was “Not for reproduction or adaptation without written consent of R. Cedric Smith” and that they thought it was highly presumptuous of the people upstairs to show such disregard for other people. I asked them if they had been interviewed by many people. About a hundred they decided. “Will you have a beer?” one offered me a can from his paper bag. “What do you do when you’re not loitering?” I inquired. Neither had been actually employed for over a year, though one had been doing some work at Smitty’s body shop and he hoped someday to become a journeyman body and fender repairman. Did either of them know Cedric Smith? “Oh yes, he’s a regular artist who did some lithographs. I imagine they must have been worth $300 or so.” The other said, “Mostly he’s been doing this concept stuff recently. It’s not new you know—a guy named Duchamp invented it some time ago—he said, ‘Art is whatever the artist says is art’, and I agree with that, don’t you?” What other concept pieces has Smith done? “Well, he did a Matte Gray Piece—he painted the floor all gray at the chicken hatchery. It was about 300 square feet, I guess.” Have you had any reaction from business types in suits? “Yeah—some guy said ‘I’m establishment!’ as he walked by.” And the other one said, “There was a girl from CBS who came rushing up with her notebook out and said, ‘What’s the story? I’m in a hurry. What’s it about?’ And she said, yeah, she’d put it on the news.” And the other one said, “All kinds of TV people have been here shooting.” One was bearded and long-haired with a bandana around his head, and the other wore prescription granny glasses, but was otherwise not particularly hip-looking. The circular indicated that the event might be performed over at any time, several times perhaps, and in the future, unannounced.

Knute Stiles