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Sotheby's headquarters on York Avenue at 72nd Street.

Julian LaVerdiére
Manned V2 Rocket
at Deitch Projects

Julian LaVerdiére
Photo by Patterson Beckwith

Sound artist
Debora Warner

Jeremy Blake
Fireside Plush
at Feigen Contemporary

Tom Sachs
First Aid
at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac Salzburg

Jay Davis
Untitled (2 things fighting, 22 pinstripes and 3 striped pedestals)
at Stefan Stux Gallery
The New Season
by Charlie Finch

Happily, over the last few years, we've reached a point where solo shows in commercial contemporary galleries drive the art world financially and esthetically.

Sotheby's has noticed: the auction house plans an aggressive incursion into contemporary this season, curating shows in its Upper East Side leviathan, signing up Downtown Arts Festival founder Simon Watson to do a series of "First Look" shows, and increasing contemporary cocktail parties, panels and "happenings" to create buzz.

Word reached me from Deitch gallery a few weeks ago that Sotheby's ward Jeffrey Deitch had "received a new round of financing" and would be able to maintain his SoHo galleries and the huge new Williamsburg grange, kicking off the season with installationer Jeff Gompertz on Sept. 6.

So many Brooklyn and budding Long Island City spaces are counting on this opening to jump start a scene that we'll gladly dub it "718," á la "007."

Yet, it seems that embattled Sotheby's wishes to realize Jeffrey's most cherished dream -- as he told us in 1993, "I'd love to find the perfect large space on the Upper East side, like the '50s." Sotheby's may be the ticket.

Amid bizarre summer rumors that he had fired, then rehired, his entire staff, Deitch did farm out industrial design philosopher Julien LaVerdiére's much-anticipated November solo to his allies at Lehmann Maupin.

With LaVerdiére leading the way, the new year promises a splendiferous splash of spectacular solos. Tony Matelli's hyperreal trompe l'oeil objects highlight Leo Koenig's schedule in December, a welcome detour from the gallery's messy recent plunge into sanitation-style expressionism.

Koenig and his Sontext squeeze Debora Warner are spending August at Documenta dad Casper's estate in Maiorca, supervising gallery artists Erik Parker and Les Rogers, while they work -- so perhaps the gallery will have more buyable product soon.

Speaking of Sontext, Warner and her wireman, Angeleno Steve Hamilton, have had to scale back ambitious plans to soundcast a motorbike race around the 20th-21st Street block on Tenth Avenue the night of Sept. 15. Pending permits, the aural art will only happen on 20th Street, outside the duo's gallery, I-20.

Sontext is a favorite of Whitney Biennial curator Larry Rinder. Whitsiders are already dubbing the 2000 edition "Bitstreams 2," which may not be such a bad thing.

Rinder will, of course, take notice of Jeremy Blake's hot new show at Feigen Contemporary and Tom Sachs' upcoming show at Mary Boone. Rinder's been spending a lot of time at edgy alternative venues like Flat and Bellwether, as well as hitting all the Chelsea group shows, seeking out tech innovation. One problem is Whit director Max Anderson, who reportedly will sign off on every selection -- give the boy some breathing room, Mr. Toff!

We're betting the Biennial will look like a 21st-century version of Peggy Guggenheim's "Art of This Century," a cornucopia of interactive bells and whistles, that downplays painting, in spite of John Currin's new work at Andrea Rosen and Cecily Brown's "Boogie Nights" series, opening next April at Gagosian.

Come spring, the word in Chelsea will be location, location, as many galleries' five-year leases expire. The looming U.S. recession may paradoxically help here, as landlords go for the bird in the hand.

But with spectacular new spaces such as Pace and Sperone Westwater opening in Chelsea, it's hard to see the boom diminishing.

Watch hardy spaces such as Bronwyn Keenan, Andrew Kreps and Bill Maynes. If they expand and continue to thrive, all is well in contemporary.

Typical of the surplus of collector goodwill is Jay Davis' first solo painting show at Stefan Stux this September. The waiting list for this young talent, often described as "the male Inka Essenhigh," is close to 40.

This reserve bodes well for new young artists and the galleries which promote them, in spite of the economy.

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