A fetid, humid Friday evening didn’t stop hordes of middle-aged admirers from pouring into the non-air-conditioned Paul Kasmin Gallery to view Deborah Kass’ triumphant show of "happy" pictures. We spied Marilyn Lerner, Matthew Abbott, Chrysanne Stachacos, Kathe Burckhardt, Laurie Thomas, Lisa Hoke and many other veterans marveling at Deborah steamrolling back into splendor. Slimmed-down lovers Kass and Pattie Cronin looked as if they had held up a beauty parlor, after mugging Oscar de la Renta. The middle years have never been so desirable.
John Waters remarked that Deborah’s works looked "wet," drenched and gleaming with sweat. Deborah replied that the painting was "a new process, accidentally discovered in the studio," but wisely did not elaborate further, for middle-aged artist fans can also be process thieves. Kasmin is the perfect space for these pictures, its middle-sized white boxes organizing Kass’ strict formalistic lines and paint-box primaries.
Dinner afterwards at Bottino was a forum for the supersuave over rubber chicken and red wine: Linda Yablonsky, thinner than a breadstick, Tim Hunt in an orange checked madras number, Vincent Fremont introducing his sexy, zaftig daughter, and curator Simon Watson, with a new George Gobel-style frizzcut pumping Kenny Scharf about their mutual passion: Brazil. In his cups, Mr. Watson berated Kassbackers Kasmin and Fremont for being a little slow on the toast and got up to whisk Deborah down Memory Lane to the delighted indifference of the diners. It was Watson who gave Ms. Kass her first show back somewhere in the last century.
Prodded by artist Janet Biggs, your correspondent came up with an idea of modest genius: The Collector Fair. Anticipating deep discounts in contemporary, in which collectors will have to actually examine those Doigs and Dumas’ before trading them, as barter, like baseball cards, why not have an art fair in which all the booths are rented by Aby Rosen, Kent Logan, Beth Rudin DeWoody and other collectors to showcase their wares? Imagine the fees an entrepreneur could charge, diamonds by the square foot! Private deals would be transformed by a falling market into a public forum where collectors could sell and swap and observers could compare and contrast. Let’s serve those tiny sandwiches, teeny vegetables and kir royales round the clock. Simon Watson loved the idea and we’re shooting for the Rio Collector Fair in 2009. Bring your Kenny Scharfs!
CHARLIE FINCH is co-author of Most Art Sucks: Five Years of Coagula (Smart Art Press).