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    Have Airbrush, Will Cotton
by Charlie Finch
Cracked House
Devil's Fudge Falls
Love Me
Will Cotton, Feb. 18-Mar. 18, 2000, at Mary Boone Gallery, 745 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10151.

A matronly Mary Boone must have purchased Will Cotton a new airbrush, for the pieces at Cotton's sold-out Boonefest are far more slickly executed than those at the artist's Silverstein Gallery show two years ago.

Cotton is one of the good guys -- a skilled painter who meticulously constructs confectionary maquettes before rendering two-dimensional candylands.

He's been toiling in the New York art vineyards for most of the '90s, showing at galleries like Silverstein, Tate and I-20. In the mid-'90s, entertainer/collector Bill Cosby reportedly bought a piece from Cotton's "Toy" series, but that was about all the attention Cotton got, until Mary Boone decided to refenestrate her stable, other than being Cecily Brown's studio mate.

And Brown's buoyant nearby colors have definitely influenced Cotton, whose last show of candy buildings at Silverstein featured lots of sickly greens and pinks.

In fact, the new pieces are so full of glistening caramels and burgundy valentine bonbons that they appear to be a continuation of Jeff Koons' "Celebration" series!

This begs the question for Cotton's new collectors, "Is that a Jeff Koons on the wall?"

"No, it's by Will Cotton -- and Cotton didn't require three eight-hour crews working round the clock to make them, either!"

One wonders whether Mary Boone actively nurtured the Koons esthetic in Cotton, because we wandered through his studio a while back, when Will was doing some extremely radical white chocolate pieces, that appear to be missing here. (But, perhaps, these Rymanesque Cottons have already been sold).

Cotton's work has its sly side, remember, appropriate for a good ol' boy who's friendly to all.

Fudge Factory is so over the top that it mocks consumption culture -- mama sez too many sweets gives you a bellyache. And Cotton throws in an obligatory come shot in one of the white pieces that survived the studio.

At the opening on Feb. 17, Cecily Brown made her first public re-appearance, stunning, slimmed down and splendid in a rhinestone-blue jeans ensemble, congratulating her old pal.

Damien Loeb modestly worked the crowd like a young pro, although some bubble bath would help.

And little Mary Boone, looking more like Martha Jackson than Jesse James, settles into an Ileana Sonnabend role with her hot, young stable. (Let Inka open solo, honey.)

It's a rare, but salutary, reward when a hard-working, long-toiling picker like Will Cotton hits the well-earned jackpot.

Enjoy it, sugarcakes.

CHARLIE FINCH is author of Most Art Sucks: Five Years of Coagula (1998).