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Everybody's a critic -- especially in New York City. As Christo and Jeanne-Claude's The Gates, Central Park, New York enters its final week -- the last day is Sunday, Feb. 27, 2005, with deconstruction beginning on Feb. 28, the colossal project has met its share of wisecracks and negative criticism. Web parodies include The Crackers, a row of orange cheese Nabs set up on a bridge rail in the park, and the Somerville Gates, a set of miniature orange gates installed by photographer Lee Hargadon in his Massachusetts home.

On Comedy Central's Daily Show, fake-news anchor Jon Stewart joked that Christo's previous "wrap" projects included the Pont Neuf, some islands in Florida and MC Hammer's legs, while fake-news correspondent Steven Colbert called the Gates "a triumph, an artistic milestone that may finally put New York on the cultural map." New York Times humor columnist Dan Barry took a few swipes, none of them funny enough to repeat here. The Times' tin-eared gossip column joked that Jeanne-Claude is launching a hair-color line -- she hennas her hair a bright orange -- called "Enfin, Les Big Bucks." Better was the remark of one local wag, who claimed that the Gates look less like curtains than valances, while another said that the free fabric swatches being passed out in the park by Christo's minions are "pieces of the true Gates."

More serious, presumably, was the complaint on the Times Op-Ed page from an environmentalist who wrote that forging the 10,500,000 pounds of steel used for the Gates "churned out 7,000 tons of carbon dioxide, equivalent to the combined output of about 1,600 average American cars for a year." The writer also noted that the PVC used for the supports is called "the poison plastic" by Greenpeace.

The Art Show 2005 opens at the Seventh Regiment Armory, Feb. 24-28, 2005, with 70 illustrious exhibitors drawn from the ranks of the Art Dealers Association of America. The year the show features more blue-chip contemporary galleries than ever, including first-time exhibitors Friedrich Petzel and Margo Leavin along with Chelsea mainstays like Cheim & Read, Sperone Westwater, Paul Kasmin, David Zwirner, Brent Sikkema and Mitchell-Innes and Nash (soon to be occupying the Gorney, Bravin & Lee space on West 26th Street).

Hightlights include a lengthy list of solo presentations: never-before exhibited stone sculptures from the 1980s by Isamu Noguchi at PaceWildenstein, works by Gene Davis at Charles Cowles Gallery, a Pleistocene Skeleton (1970) camel sculpture and other works by Nancy Graves at Ameringer & Yohe Fine Art, works by Jess at Odyssia, recent landscapes by Adam Straus at Nohra Haime Gallery, recent Great American Nude oils by Tom Wesselmann at Carroll Janis, a selection of photographs by Roger Fenton at Hans P. Kraus, and text works from 1988-2000 by Christopher Wool at Luhring Augustine. The gala preview on Feb. 23 benefits the Henry Street Settlement; tickets begin at $150. For more info, see

David and Lee Ann Lester, who founded the successful International Fine Art Expositions circuit of high-end art fairs and sold it to the Daily Mail Group in 2001 for more than $18 million, are trying to float a new kind of art enterprise -- a cruise ship loaded with galleries, jewelers and fine art dealers that tours the Atlantic on a 12-month voyage, stopping at 30-40 ports along the way. Called SeaFair, the 225-foot-long Grand Luxe yacht contains three enclosed exhibition decks and one open-air deck, along with a restaurant and bar. Each stop begins with a laser light show and a vernissage benefiting a local charity; subsequent admission is by invitation only. A dealer's cost of participation for each port, according to the SeaFair website -- -- is less than that of a typical art fair. The inaugural tour is scheduled for December 2006, beginning at Art Basel Miami Beach.

Theater fans can now get cut-rate tickets to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows and support Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts at the same time. Savings can approach 40 percent, and VLA gets a $10 donation as well. Among the shows currently available are Altar Boyz ("N'Sync meets Nunsense"), The Musical of Musicals (The Musical!) (a satire of musical theater, ranging in style from Rodgers and Hammerstein to Stephen Sondheim), Cookin' (an explosive percussion show from Korea featuring four zany chefs working to create a wedding banquet) and Stomp. For details, or to order, go to

, the unscripted, art-world-based reality show being produced by MTV-honcho Abby Terkuhle with the cooperation of Deitch Projects, is officially under way -- the first episode, an open-call audition, is set to shoot on Feb. 28, 2005. The plan calls for a jury of critics, collectors and curators to select at least eight artists whose works, taken together, would make a feasible group exhibition; seven subsequent hour-long episodes will track the artists' progress. Artist Christopher Sperandio and dealer James Fuentes are executive producers of the project, which is frankly billed as an experiment -- "the participation of veteran television producers, a highly respected dealer, critics and artists won't insure its success," say the producers. As one might expect, the response has been overwhelming. For more info, see

The London-based auctioneer Bonhams has announced plans to open a branch in the Fuller Building at 41 East 57th Street in New York. Bonhams already has salesrooms in San Francisco and Los Angeles; the Manhattan branch is to boast 5,000 square feet and open in the spring of 2005. The firm's expansion is led by 48-year-old chairman Robert Brooks, who bought Butterfield's from eBay in 2002 and the Australian auctioneer Goodman's in 2003, according to a report by Lindsay Pollock in the New York Sun.

A retrospective exhibition of works by neo-Pop assemblagist Jessica Stockholder opens at the Weatherspoon Art Museum in Greensboro, N.C., Feb. 13-May 8, 2005. "Kissing the Wall: Works, 1988-2003" features approximately 75 works in a show that is co-organized with the Blaffer Gallery in Houston, where it premiered last fall. A survey of works by Judy Pfaff is currently on view at the Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown, Ohio, Feb. 20-Apr. 24, 2005. The show, which features sculptures from the 1980s and drawings and prints from 1987-2003, is organized in collaboration with the Carl Solway Gallery in Cincinnati.

The Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art at the University of Oklahoma has unveiled its new $14 million, 34,000-square-foot expansion designed by Hugh Newell Jacobsen. The new wing features nine, identically sized light-filled pavilions in yellow limestone, green slate and glass, with a tenth pavilion serving as a new main entrance. The expansion project also includes a 28,500-square-foot addition to the museum's East Building. The institution has plenty of new acquisitions to fill the added space, including a $50-million collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art, and newly acquired collections of Indian and Southwestern art, vintage photographs and icons.

Creative Capital Foundation, the national arts organization launched by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Arts and other philanthropists to take up the slack after the National Endowment for the Arts discontinued its fellowships for artists, has announced 41 grants to 46 artists in awards of $5,000-$10,000 totaling nearly $400,0000. Creative Capital is known for a "soup to nuts" approach; grant projects can receive as much as $50,000 as they progress.

Winners in the visual arts category are the team of Edgar Arceneaux, Olga Koumoundouros and Rodney McMillan, James Bidgood, Max King Cap, Bruce Chao, Liz Cohen, Nancy Davidson, Peggy Diggs, Jeffrey Gibson, Pablo Helguera, Carolyn Lathan-Stiefel, Deborah Lawrence, Annie Han & Daniel Mihalyo, Mark Newport, Ruben Ochoa, Karyn Olivier, Susanne Cockrell and Ted Purves, Artemio Rodriguez, Joseph Schneider, Kerry Skarbakka, Noelle Tan.

Grantees in video and film are Natalia Almada, Usama Alshaibi, Ina Archer, Bill Daniel, Paula Durette, Edgar Endress & Lori Lee, James Fotopoulos, Jennifer Fox, Jacqueline Goss, Brent Green, Christina Ibarra, Braden King, James Lyons, Jake Mahaffy, Peter Sillen, Alex Stikich, Naomi Uman, Edin Velez, Glenda Wharton, Christopher Wilcha, Eric Wolf. Next up are grants in categories of performing arts and emerging fields/innovative literature. For more info, see

Artnet Magazine contributor Eve Wood is having an exhibition of her paintings and sculptures at Western Project in Los Angeles. Titled "Even The Pretty Trees Have Guns," the work "addresses violence, nature and human frailty; a search for order in this reckless life." For more info, see

Curator and critic Louise Neri has joined Jay Jopling and Tim Marlow on the curatorial team at White Cube gallery in London. Neri was U.S. editor of Parkett (1990-2000) and co-curator of the 1997 Whitney Biennial; more recently she has been artistic director of the Theater am Turm in Frankfurt.

Harald Szeemann, 71, globetrotting Swiss curator who organized Documenta 5 in 1972 and the Venice Biennales of 1999 and 2001, died of a pulmonary illness in the Swiss canton of Ticino on Feb. 17. Szeemann was made director of the Kunsthalle Bern in 1961, and organized the groundbreaking conceptual art show, "When Attitudes Become Form," in 1968. In 1981 he was named independent curator at the Kunsthaus Zurich.

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