When someone as fun, young, closemouthed, whimsical and vibrant as the great Scots curator Jackie McAllister has died, can there be much hope for the rest of us?
For years, Jackie lived up 12th Street from me with his vibrant companion, underrated surrealist painter Diana Balton (collected forever by nonpareil actor David Allan Grier, by the way), and few days passed without Jackie bearding me with, "I've got a catalogue for you, Charlie," or "here's an artist who should get your attention, Charlie," in his wonderful clipped brogue.
A man of few words, where I am one of many, Jackie was a true rock, who guided American Fine Arts through the illness and death of Colin DeLand and established the Landau Center as the place to see the very finest of contemporary art from Mel Bochner to Leonardo Drew to Jackie Winsor.
I especially remember a Tacita Dean opening at Marian Goodman in 2006, at which Jackie, charmed by my companion, launched into a minute description of the northern Scottish coast, the Isle of Skye and all the rest, in a fruitless effort to get us to travel there with him. Jackie was a cartographer of the art world whose word was his bond and whose last dollar could be yours if you really needed it.
He didn't do it for the money or the glory or the vanity, none of which he had: he loved art because his colleagues like Danny McDonald and Patterson Beckwith loved it, too. Jackie was as different from me as you can get it, a far superior being, in my view. Often, it takes the departure of someone so noble to be reminded of same.
CHARLIE FINCH is co-author of Most Art Sucks: Five Years of Coagula (Smart Art Press).