Curtis Cuffie, New York “street artist”

I remember Curtis Cuffie.  I probably saw him seven or eight times, while visiting New York.  Mostly, it was around Cooper Square.  He’d be building his wild constructions, often next to the chain link fence.

He made much of his art while he was homeless, living on the streets.  Sometimes he could be a little scary.  He’d seem to be angry or upset with you.  You could tell he didn’t want to talk.  Other times, he was a bit friendly.  It was as if he remembered me or saw I was some sort of “fellow artist.”

Sometimes he had a boombox playing various sorts of music including country music, Johnny Cash etc.

The last time I saw him, I gave him a few photographs I’d taken of Tyree Guyton’s Heidelberg Project.  He seemed to enjoy that.

I saw a number of other things he made, that I didn’t get to photograph.  Some amazing work!  There are always amazing and innovative street artists around New York, but he was one of the best.  I loved his artwork.  It was great to be able to watch him work a bit or to encounter one of his pieces.

Sometimes, I’d see it a day later and it would be way different.  Eventually, a lot of his street art ended up in the dump, carted away by the sanitation department!

In 2001 he had an exhibit of his work/ photos of his work at Intuit in Chicago.

Obituary:

http://www.nytimes.com/2002/09/21/arts/curtis-cuffie-47-artist-of-life-on-the-streets.html?pagewanted=1

There’s more good information on Curtis Cuffie.   I’ll try to add it here sometime soon.

This is a photograph of him, below.  All photos were taken by me, except for this portrait.

3 Responses to “Curtis Cuffie, New York “street artist””

  1. Carol Thompson Says:

    Just came across your writings while Googling Curtis Cuffie to share info about him with two people I was with, Ives Ouédraogo (student, and my chauffeur) and aka Dougoutigi, Director of PR and Marketing at the National Museum of Burkina Faso, as we were sitting around a table talking together in Ouagadougou late yesterday afternoon. We were talking about ephemeral Art, like the leaf masquerades of Burkina Faso and David Hammons’ Blizzard Sale, too, as we were discussing how to find funding for our in-progress project:

    Art for Communal Well-being in Burkina Faso—Land of Upright People—A Restitution, Exhibition, Publication, Cinema, and Public Programs Project—Towards Peace, Harmony, and Social Cohesion—A Return to the Era when Mutual Respect and Understanding Prevailed, Pre-Terrorism

    Carol Thompson

    aka ilmamiwata123 Instagram

    Fred and Rita Richman Curator of African Art,
    High Museum of Art
    September 17, 2001-June 18, 2019

    Art Advisor to Executor of the Thomas G.B. Wheelock Collection of Art of Burkina Faso
    June 19, 2019 to present

    Words to live by:

    “If you’re not living on the edge you’re taking up too much space”

    As told to me by the one and only, indomitable Lucinda Bunnen!!!

    Remembering her today in Ouaga as people gather to honor her in Atlanta.

    Love to all.

    April 2, 2022

  2. Carol Thompson Says:

    Thank you for this post. Who wrote it?

    Carol Thompson

  3. artremedy20 Says:

    I’ve been into ephemeral art all my life, both appreciating it and creating my own, mainly in chalk. I remember Curtis Cuffie from my visits to New York. I’m in Detroit. Here’s some of my work: https://libraries.udmercy.edu/archives/special-collections/index.php?collectionSet=&collectionCode=greenia_gre

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