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Kevin Landers
Man with Plaid Cart
2002
at Elizabeth Dee Gallery



John Chamberlain
Potawatami Falls
2002
at PaceWildenstein



Raymond Pettibon
No Title (Somewhere in the)
1997
at David Zwirner



Tim Gardner
Untitled (Crown Royal)
2002
at 303 Gallery



"Human Nature" at Red Dot, with paintings (from left) by Brady Dollarhide and Chie Fueki


Jay Davis
They'll Be Finding My Head in a Basket Somewhere
2003
at Mary Boone



Dan Kopp
Ground Control
2002
at Silverstein Gallery
Thoughts on the Passing Scene
by Charlie Finch


We stole the title of this piece from the great Stanford economist Thomas Sowell. Thanks, professor.

Sitting near Thelma Golden at Bottino last week, we overheard her companion, a handsome young architect from Cornell, opine, "I spend all my time reading theory, I don't have time for fiction." Seems to us all that he's reading is fiction.

There's much talk about Kevin Landers' deft satire of Andreas Gursky, a wall of sneakers, handmade by the artist, at Elizabeth Dee. But for our money, Kevin's real talent lies in his photography. He has the unerring eye for poignant, sly detail common to Roy De Carava or Helen Levitt.

Each of Kevin's shows contains a masterpiece. At his last one, the gem was a chicken peering towards freedom. This time, it's a large colorful celebration of a man with a shopping cart in the East Village. We had to have it, so we bought it.

An elegant Arne Glimcher and a rumpled 76-year-old John Chamberlain greeted visitors at John's opening at Pace downtown. Like every sparkling Pace palace before it, Pace Chelsea grows more beautiful with each visit, and Chamberlain's pieces, wafer-thin bouquets of colored chrome, are among his greatest efforts.

We were all set to write about the show, when the news arrived of four Yale undergraduates dead in a car crash on I-95. We have always lived and breathed Yale blue, and suddenly auto parts didn't seem like art anymore.

Another Yalie, Thornton Wilder, wrote a bestseller long ago, The Bridge of San Luis Rey, about timing, randomness and death. The other day, we walked into our bank branch on Lower Broadway just in time to see cops photographing bullet holes in the tellers' windows -- we'd missed a stickup guy by five minutes, the second time this popular branch had been hit in a week.

Especially after 9/11, New York is a world of close calls.

Is there a more overrated artist than Raymond Pettibon? Can't David Zwirner afford to frame the petty cartoons, with their always banal clichéd captions, instead of pretentiously pinning them to his walls?

All the criticisms our colleague Jerry Saltz justifiably applied to William Kentridge, apply doubly to the lunkhead Pettibon -- numbing, pedestrian ordinariness. Tim Gardner, at 303, for comparison, kicks them both upsides their heads.

Ever notice how many Madison Avenue creative types rip off contemporary art for their commercials? A few years ago some anonymous ad person seemingly stole Doug Aitken's shopping-center video for a Lexus TV spot.

Now, Scott Peterman's square ice houses, praised in Art in America as referencing all the formal concerns of 20th-century art, appear to influence the Volkswagen box commercials.

And, of course, Andreas Gursky ripoffs are everywhere. Who says contemporary art is irrelevant to the wider world?

Master printer Alex Heinrici and his beautiful spouse and partner Michelle are the focus of a survey show, "American Prints," opening in April at the Nassau County Museum of Art. Featured artists include Julian Schnabel, George Condo, Peter Halley, Lisa Ruyter and Donald Baechler.

Artists Jay Davis, just opened at Mary Boone uptown, and Dan Kopp, now showing at Silverstein, look exactly alike, paint just like Roger Dean, and are destined to be linked like Gilbert & George. Can a double curation be far behind?

The right curator can transform an offbeat space into cosmic hipitude overnight. Such was the case last week at Red Dot, on 22nd Street off Sixth Avenue upstairs, when Ellen Altfest's brilliant group shows attracted waves and waves of big-name arties until midnight. Congratulations!

Critics who bemoan their own "powerlessness" should recall that true power in our world flows back and forth from artists and their art. So thank you, Alex Katz, for graciously thanking us at Pace last week. Mazel Tov!


CHARLIE FINCH is co-author of Most Art Sucks: Five Years of Coagula (Smart Art Press).



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