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by Rosetta Stone
Everyone in this overheated New York City is talking about "Swell: Art 1950-2010," the smoothly shaped show of "surfer art" now occupying Metro Pictures, Nyehaus and Friedrich Petzel Gallery, June 30-Aug. 6, 2010. Sure, the exhibition is a hometown celebration of our very own beach bums, artists-who-surf like Bill Komoski, Robert Longo and Fred Tomaselli. But mostly, it’s all about Venice, Ca.

David Zwirner kicked off the Venice craze at the beginning of the year with "Primary Atmospheres: Works from California 1960-1970," a revelatory survey of "Light and Space" and "Finish Fetish" art -- works that the New York-centric art world had long overlooked. But smart collectors are now snapping up these "talismans of mystery," as Dave Hickey calls them, including the Museum of Modern Art, which is said to have acquired works by Laddie John Dill and DeWain Valentine from the Zwirner show.

"Swell" is organized by Jacqueline Miro and Tim Nye (who met as teens at boarding school), and includes choice examples by these very artists. Nyehaus boasts Laddie’s site-specific "aerial landscape" of four argon tubes arrayed in a miniature sand dunescape, priced at $35,000, while Petzel has one of his multicolored argon gas "light sentences" for $30,000. It dates from 1969. Folks, these prices are the bargain of the century.

Another priceless work at Nyehaus is Billy Al Bengston’s polished Dento from 1972 -- a square piece of shiny silver sheet steel peppered with dents that look like Frankenstein stitches. It’s marked NFS, but see if you can make an offer Billy Al can’t refuse.

As for Valentine, his glowing fiberglass Double Yellow Disk - Red Edge (1966) holds down the back gallery at Metro Pictures. The price: $250,000. It’s surrounded by real surfboards -- examples painted by Barry McGee and Richard Pettibone are $50,000 -- which have their own cadre of collectors, including Zwirner himself and artist Julian Schnabel.

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Sweetly, the show includes some second-generation surf artists too, including Natalie Arnoldi, daughter of Charles, whose dark and dangerous painting of Venice Pier can be had for $4,800 at Nyehaus, and Andy Moses, son of Ed, whose large and elaborate shimmery abstraction is $28,000 at Metro.

Also finding buyers are "surf esthetic" photos by Michael Halsband ($6,000) and Jay Mark Johnson ($10,000). "Photo collectors see this as a special niche," said Miro.

For fans of primary documents, Nyehaus has on display a set of never-before-seen black-and-white snaps of the Venice gang, including Ed Ruscha and macho dealer Jim Corcoran, taken by Jim Ganzer, who in his spare time launched the legendary Jimmy’Z brand of surf-wear. We hear that the trove even includes a shot of Metro Pictures’ own Helene Winer playing pool with Billy Al.

And if you want one of Robert Longo’s charcoal drawings of giant waves -- unparalleled emblems of power -- he made a new one especially for this exhibition, Untitled (Boris) (2010), at Petzel, which is $450,000.

Longo is a partner, with Michael Green, in a company called Brooklyn Surfer -- you can get one of their classy t-shirts at Metro for $40.

Meanwhile, Nye and Miro have their eye on taking "Swell" to "the other Venice," as Miro put it. "It’s all part of the trampoline."

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So much is going on in Santa Fe that an art lover could just up and move there -- and plenty of them do! The town’s summer schedule boasts no less than four fairs: SOFA West, July 8-11, 2010, brought its special art-and-design show to Santa Fe for the second year; the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market, July 9-11, 2010, the largest such event anywhere; Art Santa Fe, July 15-18, 2010, the contemporary fair now in its tenth year; and the Santa Fe Indian Market, Aug. 21-22, 2010, the oldest juried Native American art show in the world.

On the gallery front, one hot new Santa Fe gallery is David Richard Contemporary, which has just closed a show of work by New Jersey artist Paul Henry Ramirez. And Charlotte Jackson Fine Art shows off her new gallery in the Railyard, Santa Fe’s exceptional art center, with "Self and Family, a Recent Look," an exhibition of portraiture guest-curated by collector and art patron Bobbie Foshay. Artists Ellen Harvey, Alex Katz and Kiki Smith are in the show, as is the Dutch photographer Hendrik Kerstens, whose portraits are uncanny contemporary echoes of paintings by Johannes Vermeer.
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For those of you who just can’t sit still and enjoy the summer, and are already planning your September back-to-business schedule, be sure to pencil in the LAPADA Art & Antiques Fair Berkeley Square in London, Sept. 22-26, 2010. Now in its second year, the fair boasts some 90 exhibitors, all members of the prestigious UK art dealers’ organization.

Among the many highlights is an English alabaster bas relief, ca. 1450, depicting the betrayal and arrest of Christ, at Joanna Booth; a French diamond corsage, ca. 1850, with leaves mounted in silver-upon-gold and set on a gold stem, at Moira of Bond Street; and a pencil study of the Head of a Girl with Downcast Eyes by Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones, ca. 1880s, at Campbell Wilson.

ROSETTA STONE is a New York writer.