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the royal flush

by Charlie Finch  

The ducat

. . . in concert

Keith Richards

Andy Warhol
Hammer and Sickle

Arthur Dove

Goin' Fishin'

Silver Sun



   Fightin' fit Mick Jagger pranced in front of giant drawings of Bob Marley and Al Jolson, as the Rolling Stones hit Madison Square Garden last Wednesday night, their first date at the Garden since 1981.

Your scribe had good seats, bought at Ticketmaster five days before the concert, when the tour's sponsor, Sprint, put unwanted V.I.P. tickets up for sale without fanfare.

(This is a good thing to know about these corporate-sponsored megatours -- blocks of sponsor-reserved ducats are always available five to seven days before the concert date -- for cash only, in person, at Ticketmaster or other such outlets. And since there's no publicity, there's no line!)

Anyway, the Stones were much better than when we last saw them at Shea Stadium in 1989. Every time our adopted homeboy, the white-haired Keith Richards, took a star turn, the crowd erupted.

Gimme Shelter was a highlight, even if Keith can't do the opening riff anymore. Jagger bogged down the first half of the show a tad, by insisting on "playing" guitar, plus piano on Memory Motel, but things picked up when the Stones danced down a ramp to a smaller stage at Garden ground zero, cookin' on a blues club medley: It's Only Rock 'n' Roll, a great Little Red Rooster and Like a Rolling Stone, an anthem that Jagger has claimed from Bob Dylan -- the crowd raucously sang every word.

The understated chops of Charlie Watts and Ron Wood shone particularly in this setting.

As red-sashed waiters offered trays of Piper-Sonoma champagne, hundreds of Ally McBeals smoked joint after joint with their older power boyfriends.

Give Jagger credit -- at 54, he has the energy and mien of a teenager, circling the arena like a quarter-miler, as the Stones finished with Tumblin' Dice, Honky Tonk Woman, You Can't Always Get What You Want, Jumpin' Jack Flash and Brown Sugar.

No frills, some spills, lotsa thrills -- the Rolling Stones are still the tightest blues band on the planet.

The Warhol Foundation opened its doors to its newest grant recipients, a passel of trendy Cuban artistas, by filling the walls of its conference room with half a dozen Andy prints: six Hammer and Sickles and six Camouflages.

Other than ArtNet, the only press present was a femme contingent from snailmag Art in America -- Sarah King and Cathy Lebowitz.

As pictures of Che Guevara flashed from a slide projector, your scribe reminded himself that it was Fidel himself who led the killers to Che's hideout in the Bolivian jungle (see Castro by veteran Timesman Tad Szulc).

The passage of time can be cruel to an artist's body of work -- such is the case with the theoretically admirable Arthur Dove show, currently on view at the Whitney Museum.

A passel of art-world true believers showed up for the opening gala: Barbara and Arthur Danto, collectors Dorothy and Herbert Vogel, Noguchi museum director Bruce Altschuler, painter Will Barnet, auction maven Judd Tully and critic Eleanor Heartney, fetchingly attired in black velvet and rhinestones.

Also present: Whit czar David Ross, as alarmingly swift and thin as the Roadrunner. These muted sophisticates paid homage to Dove (1864-1946), whose pieces lose their modernist aura when viewed en masse.

Here are landscape-inspired abstractions that anticipate Kenneth Noland's "Targets" and Helen Frankenthaler's stained canvases, work also diminished by time.

Dove's watered-down palette and squiggly lines, enlightened with wax emulsion, often flit across the walls with the inconsequentiality of Latin American decorative art.

The centerpiece of the show, Goin' Fishin, featured prominently in the Guggenheim Madonna's Robert Rauschenberg catalogue, is an assemblage anomaly, suggesting that Dove should have taken more cues from the New York Dada types he occassionally palled around with.

As proper curatorial preppies inhaled cheeses from the Whit's atypically large groaning board whilst sippin' firewater, a dovish sadness enveloped this reporter.

The Doves, which individually would enhance any living space, are deeply diminished in the Whit's austere grey-and-brown environs, exposing the minor works of a minor artist.

Last, and definitely least, it's time for RF's "1998 New York Art Dealers Yearbook" -- the envelope, please:

Best ambience -- Deitch Projects
Best openings -- Matthew Marks, 22nd St.
Most elegant -- Paula Cooper
Best back room -- Gavin Brown
Best storage room -- John Weber
Best bathroom -- Ace
Rookie of the year -- Derek Eller
Funkiest -- American Fine Arts
Snootiest -- Barbara Gladstone
Temple of Doom -- Sean Kelly
Non-profit paradise -- Dia Center
Best museum to party -- Whitney
Worst museum to party -- Guggenheim
Not so trendy anymore -- Andrea Rosen
Sexiest -- Tanya Bonakdar
Most knowlegeable help -- Arthur Solway at Peter Blum
Goofiest -- Alexander & Bonin
Slickest -- Basilico
Bargain basement fever -- Jack Tilton
Hardest working -- David Zwirner
Survivor -- Caren Golden
Nicest owner -- Mariacristina Parravicini, Cristinerose
Maverick --Annika Sundvik
Boring -- Friedrich Petzel
Empty -- P.S. 1
Thinks he's a star -- Dan Silverstein
Conflict of interest -- MoMA Projects Room
Money in the bank -- Max Protetch
Resurrected -- Brooke Alexander
Cigar store indian -- Steffany Martz
Whatever happened to? -- 303

CHARLIE FINCH is the New York editor of Coagula Art Journal and has coauthored the forthcoming Most Art Sucks from Smart Art Press.