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Invite image for Ward Shelly's "We Have Mice" at Pierogi gallery

David Carrier
Writing About Visual Art
Allworth Press

Sylvia Plimack Mangold
Untitled (Couples)
Jim Kempner Fine Art

Ellen Altfest
Tree with Landscape

Hilary Harkness
Iowa Class
Mary Boone Gallery

Su-en Wong
Michael Steinberg Fine Art

Chie Fueki
Kissing Behind the Curtains
A Life Without Art
by Charlie Finch

      The best nap is the one after breakfast.
-- Thomas Bergin

Three horrible books, full of bad writing, bad ideas and bad taste by Roger Kimball, David Carrier and Raphael Rubinstein, sit on my desk, begging not to be read.

Holland Cotter has a long noodle in the New York Times, reminding us that the same artists (Ward Shelley, Elena Herzog, et al.) who started in Brooklyn are still showing in Brooklyn ten years after.

After spending weeks cruising Artnet's exhaustive database, Brooks Barnes produces a color-coded, Leviathanical market guide for the Wall Street Journal, which, among other idiocies, tells us that Henri Matisse's "declining market will rise" if a major masterpiece ever comes up for auction.

The Times also maintains that Lower East Side dealer Michelle Maccarone won't join the bubbling coven called NADA because what she really operates is a "kunsthalle."

Houston Street, we have a problem: there is just too goddamn much art! Suddenly, we misanthropically long for the desert of the early '90s, when dealers maxed out their credit cards and closed forever, and whole generations of artists fell off the West Side piers into the void of noncreation.

We lust for Jerry and Roberta's repeated condemnation of "festivalism," which simply means "stop me from walking though one more dull video installation, please!"

One warning of too muchness of the sameness of the muchness is when a lot of artists make trees. Used to be only Sylvia Plimack Mangold made trees; then there was Keith Edmier and Jonathan Borofsky -- now you look up the new work of a brilliant artist like Jennifer Steinkamp and, of course, it's trees, each of which should be labeled "please don't go."

Ellen Altfest calls us from southern California -- she's moved from trees to rocks, pretty complex stones at that.

"I'm stuck on a hill, Charlie," Ellen tells us, "in a studio with no electricity, no running water, and I am freezing. I've already seen a couple of mountain lions, but the snakes don't come out until next month."

Suddenly, we begin to warm to art again: the dead hand of the dealer comes alive in the palm of a distant creator.

Hilary Harkness also calls: "I am having a three-painting show at Mary Boone in April, Charlie, and Mary is a little worried it won't be ready in time."

"Don't worry Hilary, you'll be fine."

"Chuck Close is coming over to varnish my latest, Charlie, and as soon as it is dry, I'll hop in a cab and bring it by." Yum, Hilary, yum.

Su-en Wong sends us some slides, the new stuff she sold in L.A. and Chicago, full of naked Su-en lotus eaters dappled in amphibious lily pad lollying. Outside my window, all is ice and a poor woman was electrocuted on 11th Street. Art is a refuge and a paradise.

Chie Fueki calls from her new home in Pennsylvania, land of the Wyeths. "There's white, white snow drifts everywhere Charlie, you have to come out."

Don't temp me Chie, it's time for my nap, for I sleep in the beating bosom of art, and there is no escape.

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