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Lane Twitchell
Walk Away (Godseye #1)
at Caren Golden

Janet Henry
Entitled and Oh Shut Up!
at P.P.O.W.

Alexi Worth
at Bill Maynes

The new Kravets-Wehby space on West 21st Street

Laurel Nakadate
We Are All Made of Stars (detail)
at Silverstein

Laurel Nakadate
We Are All Made of Stars (detail)
at Silverstein
A Sprinkling of Diamonds
by Charlie Finch

Under a crisp crescent moon, hanging from an azure sky turning to beige on the horizon, at 5 p.m. last Saturday, while everyone was in Miami Beach, we showered beneath a mist of visual gems. Also on the Westside prowl: wealthy beanpole Maurizio Cattelan in a fiery red ski cap and conceptual genius Rebecca Quaytman.

This December is a quiet one in Chelsea, devoid of hot openings, hype and hoopla, but nevertheless a strong one for art. It is especially sweet to see veteran artists, whose craft we've long admired, finally get their due, intermingling with technically inspired young Turks.

Both are on view in "The Nature of the Beast" at Caren Golden, an exquisitely calibrated group show. Here the experienced Devorah Sperber, represented by McKenzie Fine Art, shows a spectacular shag rug "Jackson Pollock," which disintegrates into a "Hans Hofmann" when viewed through binoculars provided by the gallery.

Lane Twitchell, from Artemis Greenberg van Doren, exhibits two haunting highway-scapes, each a steal at $2,000. And Dan Kopp, whose debut solo show opens at Silverstein Gallery next month, has coughed up his first truly great painting, by discarding his trademark space-alien stick figures for an aquatic meditation.

Art lover non pareil Mitchell Algus celebrates his new 25th Street space with "Ten Realists," featuring a brand new Lisa Ruyter far superior to the junk she's currently showing at Leo Koenig, and a poignant inner-city portrait of a boy by ex-graffitist Daze (aka Chris Ellis), who is poised for rediscovery. Our old pal Don Perlis also contributes one of his prophetic 1993 Twin Tower series to this excellent curation.

Also enjoying a new 25th Street venue is the venerable P.P.O.W. with a powerhouse show from Janet Henry, whose work we first enjoyed at the New Museum and Puffin Room in 1993.

Janet does bricolage with far more discernment than Tom Sachs -- it is grand to see her garnering the recognition she deserves.

Yet another longtime friend is John Newsom, whose aggressive paintings of bugs at war are selling briskly at Stux. We were pleased to buy She Comes in Colors, a Brazilian fire ant defenestrating a grasshopper, from this show.

Chuck Close's painting of Cecily Brown at PaceWildenstein downtown could be the best piece of his career, even though it looks more like Shabba Ranks than Cecily. Somehow sexy Chuck penetrated Ms. Brown's deep allure and emerged with her soul.

Everyone is also discussing Alexi Worth's miniatures at Bill Maynes. One painting in particular evokes George Tooker's lost subway denizens, young things imbibing white wine at an opening. Alexi is going to be a major star.

We also previewed Susie Kravets and Mark Wehby's new show, curated by Franklin Sirmans, and their gorgeous new 21st Street space opening Dec. 19.

Choice here is Aaron Romine's newest, an African temptress in a dark negligee guaranteed to make you drool.

Last, and best, go see Laurel Nakadate's video erotica at Silverstein. It is a young woman's gutsy promenade with love and death, scary animals and horny desperados, in technicolored surroundarama, the young 'uns' response to Marina Abramovic and twice as threatening.

If the idiots at the Whitney Museum were to include every artist in every show mentioned above, the 2004 Biennial would be a smash.

Well, we can dream, can't we?

Krens is down; Lowry and Anderson, you're next.

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