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    Winsome Art Star
by Charlie Finch
Saint Reverend Jen
performing Rats in front of
the Winter Garden Theater,
Sept. 10, 2000
More Rats

Photos Paul Richard Richardson
Reverend Jen at American Fine Arts

Photo Patterson Beckwith
The Troll Museum

Photo Jason Thompson
Are you suffering the block of the new? Is your creativity stifled by too much Chelsea good times? Has Dia chairman Leonard Riggio turned the foundation's Minimalist digs into his newest Barnes and Noble, the enlarged Dia bookstore pushing art out of the picture?

Well the antidote is easily found all over town in the smiling person of Saint Reverend Jen, or more informally, Reverend Jen.

The latest offspring of the Cooper Union incubator, the Reverend is known to wear a denim jacket embroidered with the words "Reverend Jen Art Star."

Calling herself "the patron saint of the uncool," Jen greets her audience with the wide smile of Sally Field and the energy of 303 Gallery temptress Mary Spirito.

And she's doing it outside the Winter Garden Theater, on Broadway and 50th Street, on the last night of Cats, dressed in a giant rat suit.

What a coincidence! As Cats bristles goodbye, Reverend Jen opens her one women musical Rats!! barely 50 feet away.

The NYPD is interested! One of their number is videotaping the winsome rodent-suited Rev, seriously violating her privacy, while unintentionally cutting down her production costs.

We encountered the Cooperette pretty in pink a few days later at American Fine Arts Co., where your scribe was giving a lecture to an enthusiastic group of Cooper Union students.

Deeply steeped in grief for its late muse Pat Hearn, the gallery has hit the season running with a series of joyful workshops, featuring Alex Bag, Boog and Wirth, Nils Norman, Josephine Pryde, the aforementioned students and many others.

Reverend Jen expressed concern that the edge has basically disappeared from the fat happy art world and has volunteered to be a one-women counterpoint.

On September 23, for example, she goes head-to-head with the mighty Darth of death, Damien Hirst, who also opens at 6 pm that night, triumphantly, at Gagosian.

So tightly held a secret is the location of Damien's after party, that the publicist will be calling art-world biggies with the address just a few days before the opening.

Conversely, the opening of Reverend Jen's Lower East Side Troll Museum, advertised oddly as "Bookable opening ceremonies," promises "Ribbon-cutting, entertainment, cheese and crackers," 122-124 Orchard Street #19, between Delancey and Rivington, 777-2875.

We have a hunch that Damien himself might show up.

CHARLIE FINCH is coauthor of Most Art Sucks: Five Years of Coagula.