Pat Hearn and Matthew
in a detail
from the AC2K photo
A snack machine
ac2kat american fine artsby William McCollum
The sign in front of American Fine Arts
"STOP THE MEGA HOTEL!" protests the looming
new Soho Grand Hotel that recently opened a
block away on West Broadway. Or does it?
And the gallery window is soaped over, with
a sign announcing the coming of a new Old
Navy Clothing store. Dealer Colin de Land
may be down on his luck, but could it be
this bad? What we have here, in fact, is
the fourth consecutive summer exhibition by
AC2K, the artist collective formerly known
as Art Club 2000. The exhibition, titled
"SoHo So Long", a purported investigation
of the move of many downtown art dealers to
West Chelsea [see Gallery Yenta for
details], is on view through August 31.
The sign outside American Fine Arts
actually pleads "STOP on in if staying at
THE MEGA HOTEL." And the soaped-up window
is a parody of the storefront of the long-
under-construction Mercer Hotel on Prince
Street, which promises the imminent opening
of a J. Crew store. Outside as well is a
gray flower box painted with the logo of
the Drawing Center, a replica of the one
found up the street at the real Drawing
Center. Upon entering the gallery, one must
pass through plywood portals, which turn
out to be a recreated Scharf Shak facade.
Inside, the installation looks like a cross
between a tourist information center and a
dormitory lounge, featuring a snack
machine, two fans (possibly dedicated to
the art-world's hardest working
unrepresented artists, (Liz + Val) and red
couches on loan from Todd Oldham, whose
store opened up the block a few years ago.
At the opening AC2K served soda pop and
cookie versions of the multi-breasted
bronze "goddess" on Prince Street. Also on
view, the famous painting on particleboard
found by artist Simon Cerigo in a dumpster at
Spring and Mercer, that is possibly a work
by Jean-Michel Basquiat--it does have his
pseudonym, Samo, written on it, and is
priced at $50,000.
Central to the show is a large, panoramic
light box with a group portrait of SoHo and
Chelsea gallerists, staring somewhat
defiantly back at the viewer. Additional
color photographs of former and current
Soho denizens adorn two adjacent walls.
There's Ileana Sonnabend in front of 420
West Broadway. See Chelsea dealer Carol
Greene in front of Aveda on Spring Street.
And there's Colin de Land pumping gas at
Gaseteria. On tables in front of these
couches are interviews with various art-
world movers and shakers, waxing
philosophical, optimistic and nostalgic
about SoHo and Chelsea, from sentimental
memories about Blimpie's iced coffee to the
relief that Chelsea offers from the
changing SoHo demographics. Occasionally
they also reveal the self-love, self-
loathing and self-denial involved in the
Art Club 2000 presents a Haacke
Lite examination of Warhol's idea that
being good at business is the most
fascinating kind of art. Whether identity
is determined through niche marketing (as
in the group's earlier "Gap lifestyle"
photo series) or Manhattan gallery geography
as it relates to the world (as here)
AC2K successfully X-rays the inner workings
of the art machine's latest model.
"SoHo So Long", American Fine Arts, 22
Wooster St., NY, NY 10012, July 25-Aug. 31, 1996.
William McCollum is a New York artist who
writes on art and music.