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Mary Boone in her uptown office, with a painting by Peter Halley

Tolland Grinnell's wine and propane caddy, from "A Mobile Home & Other Necessities," at Mary Boone Gallery

Will Cotton opens at Mary Boone Gallery in Chelsea, Sept. 7, 2002

Will Cotton
Crême Anglaise

Will Cotton
The Queen Returns
by Charlie Finch

It was Rosh Hashanah, so naturally Mary Boone opened uptown at sundown with Toland Grinnell and downtown the next afternoon with Will Cotton.

"I've been hiking in the wilderness for two weeks, Charlie, and I've been eating a vegan diet all summer," purred Ms. Boone from behind her uptown desk, looking tan, rested and more than ready in a crisp white nouvelle Chanel pantsuit.

"It's time to call Hef and schedule your photo shoot at the Playboy Mansion, Mary, you look like you just left college."

"I'm really 51, Charlie, that's six months older than you."

"Fire all the boys on your staff, Mary, you're now so hot you can do it all yourself."

Outside, the crowd reconnoitered for Toland Grinnell, last seen regurgitating the Pequod from Moby Dick for Stefano Basilico at the 1997 Gramercy Art Fair.

Boone's salesmanship even exceeds her new good looks -- the new Grinnells are Andrea Zittels for the carriage set, luxurious, portable portmanteaus filled with "essentials" like bottles of white wine and tanks of propane gas -- party favors for the Malibu crowd. If you were really wealthy, you might want one. Otherwise, so what?

The next night we moved downtown, as Mary switched into a black cat suit, la Serena Williams, to perform her dealer's alchemy on popsicle prince Will Cotton, embarrassingly clad in a powder blue Teletubbies costume.

Somehow, Mary has managed to twin Cotton with Eric Fischl -- how else to explain the hushed brown, rear-view nudes completed in France on a grant from the Monet Foundation and attributed to Mr. Cotton.

Sleepily erotic and competently rendered, these punchless females, if really done by Will Cotton, are the perfect loss leaders for the Fischl collector -- just put one on your wall until eric gets around to delivering a new piece, then return the Cotton.

Otherwise, a new visual zest permeated the backroom inventory in both Mary's spaces.

Ross Bleckner's new fuzzy space bubbles are his most optically satisfying in years.

Peter Halley has produced a candy-stripe number superior to the somber paintings he exhibited at Boone last summer.

And Damian Loeb's new painting of the back of a redhead's head is saucily Richteresque. There's even an ochre confection by newlywed Inka Essenhigh in Boone's back gallery downtown.

So get out your checkbooks and your cameras, collectors, it's guaranteed that the sexy new Mary Boone won't disappoint.

Tolland Grinnell, "A Mobile Home & Other Neccessities," Sept 6-Oct. 19, 2002, at Mary Boone gallery, 745 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10151

Will Cotton, Sept. 7-Oct. 19, 2002, at Mary Boone Gallery, 541 West 24th Street, New York, N.Y. 10011

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

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