Signs of Life on West 23rd Street by Charlie Finch
We attended a bash at a German beer hall on Rivington Street to celebrate the move of Leo Koenig and I-20 galleries to the north side of the West 23rd Street strip, Chelsea's new gold coast. Enjoying free-flowing pitchers of Pilsner on a warm night were artists from the two edgy galleries, including Nicole Eisenman, Debora Warner, Torben Giehler, Les Rogers and Kiki Seror, as well as the always elegant Sissel Kardel, who's represented by John Connelly.
We suggested to I-20 owner Paul Judelson that he rename his space "I-23."
"I've been thinking of that, Charlie," Paul replied. "We'll be opening in October with an installation by Eduardo Sarabia."
I-20's current show, in its old space, featuring cryptic Islamic text paintings by Andisheh Avini, who happens to be the preparator at Gagosian Gallery, has done extremely well, with 35 pieces selling at $7,500 each. At one point, international art star Douglas Gordon walked in to purchase one.
Leo Koenig's new space on the 11th Avenue end of 23rd Street, next to I-20, opens at the end of this month with work by Frank Nitsche. Both galleries are seeking permission to install trees and other accoutrements on the sidewalk to enhance our Chelsea experience.
We also attended an opening at Goff + Rosenthal last week, another jewel on the 23 skidoo, where we chatted with the bewitching Isca Greenfield-Sanders, who just signed with that gallery. Isca's work is in the $50,000-$75,000 range, so we had to settle for one of her gorgeous seaside prints, which we purchased from Michael Steinberg for $750, edition of 30.
With construction barriers finally removed, the north side of 23rd Street will be the first pristine realized vision that the Chelsea pioneers like Matthew Marks, Paula Cooper and Paul Judelson promised a decade ago. Gone are the taxi garages, food stands and auto parts stores (at least from this one piece of real estate) that have made walking the area an obstacle course for collectors and Saturday scenesters. Those who got into ground floor spaces on the strip over the last two years, such as Buia, Pavel Zoubok, Caren Golden, Daniel Reich, Perry Rubenstein and Van de Weghe can collectively sigh that they've made the right move.
"All our neighbors have been most collegial," Leo Koenig told us, and collectors, whose buying zeal has obliterated the A, B, C pecking order of gallery elitism, should, by continuing to spread their dough around, benefit.
CHARLIE FINCH is co-author of Most Art Sucks: Five Years of Coagula (Smart Art Press).