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Brooklyn-based installation artist Javier Tellez has withdrawn as the official representative of Venezuela at the 50th Venice Biennial, which opens to the public on June 14, 2003. "The Venezuelan pavilion today embodies a toxic environment," the artist wrote in an open letter sent via E-Flux, "that would inevitably contaminate the reading of any work of art that deals with social inequality." Tellez goes on to note the "corruption and struggle for power that are choking the country," a crisis that extends to the cultural sector as well, which like so many parts of Venezuelan society is starved for resources. "When the vice-minister of culture suggests to the museums that they reduce their electrical consumption," the artist writes, "I can't help reading this in a very symbolic way -- without morals and light it is impossible to imagine cultural endeavors."

Tellez may be remembered by New York art viewers for his work in "Greater New York" at P.S.1, I Am Happy Because Everyone Loves Me, a video installation featuring footage of nurses in an English hospital practicing techniques for the restraint of patients. His work can currently be seen in the group show "Spanish Fly" at the Roger Smith Gallery and in "Dreamspaces/ Entresuenos" at the Deutsche Bank Lobby Gallery, both in Manhattan. His proposal for Venice was titled La Colmena (the beehive).

Disgraced Imclone Systems former chief executive Samuel D. Waksal has pled guilty to evading sales tax on $15 million worth of contemporary art bought from a Manhattan gallery. Though the dealer is not named by prosecutors, the New York Times identified him as Larry Gagosian. The scheme called for the gallery to prepare false invoices indicating that the artworks had been shipped out of state, when in fact they were delivered to Waksal's SoHo apartment. According to court papers, Waksal purchased nine paintings during a 16-month spending spree, including Untitled (Plum and Brown) by Mark Rothko for $3.5 million; Mahoning II by Franz Kline for $3 million and Study from the Human Body by Francis Bacon for $3 million. Waksal owes a total of $1.26 million in state and city taxes on the purchases.

The independent art group Artists Against the War has come up with an inventive art protest against the coming U.S. invasion of Iraq. Artists and other anti-war activists are asked to gather for a peaceful vigil on Mar. 5 in the galleries of ancient Near Eastern art in their local museums. In New York, the protest is taking place at the Metropolitan Museum in the Assyrian gallery from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm. "We will respectfully draw with paper and pencil the art around us, which was created as early as 5,000 years ago in the land now known as Iraq," reads an email from the committee. "This is a peaceful vigil [designed] to pay homage to this land, culture and people, which our government is planning to destroy." As for the Metropolitan, a spokesperson said noted that "our galleries are open to the public, and people come and draw there all the time."

It seems that no major contemporary fair opens these days without a second, smaller fair representing younger artists and younger dealers tagging along on the big-budget coattails. And so, as the international art world prepares for the 2003 Armory Show, Mar. 7-10, the Scope Art Fair unrolls at the Hotel Dylan at 52 East 41st Street on the same dates, Mar. 7-10. Among the 40-plus exhibitors are Caren Golden Fine Art, Cornell DeWitt Gallery, Cristine Wang, Curcioprojects, Daniel Reich, Daniel Silverstein Gallery, David Gibson, Espacio Minimo, Finesilver, Galeria Enrique Guerrero, John Connelly Presents, Laura Martin-Transient, Lyonswiergallery, Mixed Greens, Mullercechiara, Nikolai Fine Art, Plus Ultra Gallery, Priska C. Juschka Fine Art, Rare, Red Dot, Sara Nightingale Gallery, and The Proposition.

Scope has organized a benefit party for the New Museum of Contemporary Art on Mar. 8; tickets are $50. Additionally, a "silent auction" of donated works benefits the Scope "emerging artist grant," which is to be announced at the opening on Mar. 7. The fair offers a shuttle bus between the Dylan and the Armory Show on Piers 88 and 90, as well as a pair of afternoon panels on Mar. 8 & 9. For more info see

For visitors to Art Chicago next May, there's an additional attraction as well -- Artboat2003. The one-time mobile exhibition is slated for May 10, 2003, and occurs on board the Anita Dee II, a 140-foot, three-level yacht that will be docked at Navy Pier, site of Art Chicago. The three-hour exhibition takes place during a cruise of Lake Michigan that begins at 2 pm and that includes complimentary cocktails and hors d'oeurves. The cost is $20; for more info, go to Among the more than 25 exhibitors are 1/Quarterly, 1R Gallery, Dogmatic, Fahrenheit, Heaven, Luxury Goods, Standard, the Pond and Warsaw Project Space.

COLIN DELAND, 1955-2003
Colin de Land, who opened his first art gallery in the East Village in 1982 and has since had important spaces in SoHo and Chelsea, was our Alfred Stieglitz. He was an eccentric innovator, who loved art and artists and the quest of exhibiting their work more than any other figure of his generation.

He surrounded himself with a loving and devoted staff, who over the course of a 20-year career introduced a new method of exhibition into the gallery world. This approach combined a communal spirit left over from the hippie 1960s with a cutting-edge 21st-century attitude toward materials and an existential love of everyday life.

Colin also had an eagle eye for the market, introducing into the world many young artists, such as Mariko Mori, and making deals and curatorial arrangements with every major figure in the world art business.

It is particularly poignant that he should leave us on the eve of the Armory Show, the premier art world exhibition, which began cynosure of his curatorial vision, the Gramercy Park Art Fair of 1994. The world will be a far less amusing place without him. His droll approach brought a smile every time one saw him, and yet so much more, including his personal motivations, pass on with him, never to be known. May God bless his beautiful soul.
-- Charlie Finch