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New Art

by Charlie Finch
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I hadn't been out to Williamsburg since 1998, when the great feminist artist Cindy Tower, who lived out there on Lorimer Street, dumped me, so when I heard that my Artnet Magazine colleague and newfound pal Tony Fitzpatrick was showing at Pierogi on North 9th Street, I hopped the L train for the big return.

No sooner had I arrived than Pierogi czar Joe Amrheim whisked me in his car over to the Boiler, Pierogi's space on North 14th Street, to watch him move some furniture. "The Fire Department busted us during Bruce Pearson's wedding last year for overcrowding and I have been paying to bring the space up to code ever since," Joe sighed. This is important, as Stations Lost, the second play in Tony Fitzpatrick's series about love's labor's lost among blue-collar Americans, opens at the Boiler in mid-October.

I'm no engineer, but the Boiler looked fine to me, with brand new handicapped-accessible johns and a vaulted ceiling that would make Mary Boone jealous. Joe and his bride Susan show art there, too, the current inmate being a fellow named John Stoney whose cosmic stuff is a cross between Vija Celmins and Debora Warner, with a touch of Ann Craven's recent (too obsessive) moon paintings. Collector alert: don't miss Stoney's starry diorama, a steal in the low thousands and more original than his digital work.

Then it was back to Peirogi for the Fitzpatrick prints in the back. Peter Plagens claims that Tony makes $350,000 in print sales every year -- and it is no wonder, as the edition size for his small prints (buy only the small ones) is around 45, and they are quite desirable at price points in the low thousands. While observing his work I called the artist on my battered cell.

"You were brought up Catholic, right, Charlie?" Tony queried from Chicago. "Actually high Episcopalian, Tony," I answered. "You know, without the Pope, but with the ceremony." "I think of my prints as prayer cards," Tony continued, "especially the Dick Tracy characters. I knew Tracy author Chester Gould, the art I grew up with, comics." We then discoursed on Flattop, the Brow (one of Tony's most desirable images at Pierogi) and others.

"Actually, Tony," I confessed, "My favorite was Moon Maiden (not a villain)." "I got my first erection to her at age six!" Tony ejaculated, though the Moon Maid is not depicted in the Pierogasm on view.

Well, it was fun to go to Williamsburg again, and after seeing Tony Fitzpatrick cool down at Joe Amrheim's Boiler next month, I plan to return in 2024.

Tony Fitzpatrick, "Nickel History: Nation of Heat," Sept. 9-Oct. 9, 2011, at Pierogi, 177 North 9th Street, Brooklyn, N.Y.

John Stoney, Sept. 9-Oct. 9, 2011, at the Boiler, 191 North 14th Street, Brooklyn, N.Y.

CHARLIE FINCH is co-author of Most Art Sucks: Five Years of Coagula (Smart Art Press).