The cliché of the depressed artist, isolated in the studio, is belied by the optimism and creativity of artists across the USA, who did not rest for the New Year.
In Portland, Ore., blogger Eva Lake raised money for the documentary Alien Boy, a film about a local rocker shot to death by the police for no apparent reason in broad daylight in front of a local coffee bar. At Pocket Utopia, a new artist-run space in Bushwick, artist Deborah Brown collaborated with gallery owner Austin Thomas on a print of a cardinal escaping from a Schielelike branch, to benefit the Women in Need charity. Another Brooklyn artist, Hannah Corbett of Park Slope, also produced prints based on her painting of The Graces, a seductive nude-in-triplicate of her three too-sexy aunts.
In San Francisco, former Artnet Magazine writer Sherry Wong, fresh off a solo show of nude self-portraits at Gallery 13 in Mexico City, embarked on a second career as a rave performer in local clubs with a self-penned hit song about her orange tabby Ravi. Another former Artnet writer, Giovanni Garcia-Fenech, produced a brilliant series of black spiral abstractions which fuse the black-and-white paint of Franz Kline into the whorls of Robert Mangold.
But, it wasn't all work and no play over the holidays, as master expressionist Ena Swansea, whose gallery really should pay all that money it owes her, entertained a stellar crew at her Connecticut cabin on the babbling brook: Marina Abramovic, Klaus Biesenbach and Rufus Wainwright, all of whom were a little less competent at roughing it than their reputations might attest.
Finally, Artnet satirist Elliott Arkin spent the holidays in his basement painting a couple dozen iconic sculptures of new Prez Barack Obama, spoken for by a big-shot roster of collectors, including philosopher Cornel West, Obama foreign policy adviser Samantha Power, Kennedy cousin Stephen Smith, and former Christie's general counsel Jo Laird.
Arkin also has one earmarked for Agnes Gund, rumored to be anticipating a major arts appointment by the new president. With all this activity by artist elves, perhaps the art world will be out of the financial swamp by April!
CHARLIE FINCH is co-author of Most Art Sucks: Five Years of Coagula (Smart Art Press).