~CRACK TALKS. money walks. say what ?

FILE UNDER: current state of the art . . . scene.
or: if you have a nickname – may as well live up to it . . . and mine is: CRACKULA.
(with much thanks to Charlie Finch for the bon mot.)


well, what happened ?
Gavin Brown and The Hole were supposed to be the hot spots of the Fall scene – as declared by a New York Times art reviewer, a while back – or was that just for the summer session ? – at any rate, both fizzled out. Gavin seems to have lost his mojo completely – let’s hope, its just temporary. while The Hole, despite its colorful name – just ain’t down and dirty enough.

The Hole: how fun to finally have an easy target to ridicule – is about the best you can say about the place. there’s cool – but. then there’s – too cool for school. and sorry to say that’s where The Hole is stuck, and it looks to be forever . . . call in the deep hole mine rescue team somebody, please. and soon. the air is running out over there.

the best review that their current holey schmoley mess of a glue show has scored has been a bit blurb in the Village Voice: “go stoned” . . . who knew it could be possible to miss the cartoonish, socially challenged – Jeffrey Deitch ? Been there done that – and friggin 10 years ago – the quickest thought that comes to mind – to sum up their current lost and found dreck fest – and it looks like it might be mighty hard to scrape all that second-hand crap from the walls, when it’s over too. what a nightmare. in day-glo. no less.

‘Been there done that’ – it is a term – that no matter the unpopularity of the man – could never be pinned on Jeffrey. you gotta give credit where credit is due – and Jeffrey, great showman that he was – did bring the newest circus acts to town, big time. and they did really, for the most part rumble the scene, inspire the artists, and critics, bring in the tourists – and flat out rock and roll. now we see it wasn’t just his leaps of faith and inspired dumb gut feelings – we have to consider – in his ability to pull off bringing in – the brand newest – often completely off-the-mainstream art radar – thank god – often street, skater and even design world talents – who were hitting the popular culture dead-on – splat – and that we would have completely missed out on otherwise – (esp as most of the bone-dry, academic and short-sighted just-write-descriptions critics in this funny art town – turn their collective noses up at ‘trends’) – but now we need to realize – that Jeffrey was much more than an on-point showman – he was a great curator !! He didn’t just call in the talent – when it was factory fresh – no 10 year shelf life expiry dates for him – he got his acts to perform top notch for the Big Apple. totally top notch editing. just think back to his DEARRAINDROP – THE SIGN OF THE SYPHINX show – and you’ll get what I’m saying. and I guess the final thought, somewhat sobering and sad is: so what are we missing out on ? and, whose gonna put it on the Big Apple stage for us – with all the lights on.

it sure ain’t the Lower East Side – as vast a wasteland – as one could imagine. o.k. it has some cool bars and nightspots. but the amount of inspiration and talent over there – is about as inverse to the resources poured into the real estate, as you can get. or put this way – it’s as close to a dumbed-down miniature golf Disneyland – made in China !! – of the Lower East Side’s famous artist ran-the-streets glory days – as you can get. for tourists only and dumb ones, at that. the best thing that could happen over there – some new age severe weather tsunami roars in – and washes it all out to sea. and, yes. I do friggin’ have the credentials with which to confer this. having been a bonafide L.E.S denizen. back in the day. when it rocked.

guys – the best thing you could do is – scrap your game and let someone else take over – you’re making a mockery of us all . . . that Freeman’s Alley – I lived across from it – from 1986 til 1996 when we got bought out for $50,000 in the name of progress and gentrification. we sublet the 5 Rivington St. – East Storefront – apt/studio – from the notorious ‘shadowman’ aka RICHARD HAMBELTON. Freeman’s Alley was a no man’s zone – a scuzzy flea bitten corner – where junkies got $5 blowjobs in the dark corners and left the goo behind. along with their dirty needles. I’m not saying that was pretty, but it was real. if you are gonna go in there and slum it up, Jeanne – at least come up with something exciting and innovative, maybe even visionary and I don’t mean the art – as that’s patently not possible for you – but I mean interior and exterior design-wise, you know the kind of T magazine architectural style – big money should be able to buy. don’t you jaunt over to Europe ?

speaking of which. Europe, fashion, innovative style, and played-out icons, not to mention no-name ‘girls’ . . . maybe Kathy Grayson should have OLIVIER ZAHM black-and-white photograph her spread-eagled – on a Standard Hotel bed, with a smeared lipstick snarl, sheer pink undies – and messy hair. so cool. and vacuous – in a word: just what she is. and aspires to be. period. end of story.

so, speaking of vacuums – who would have thought – just a mere 6 months ago – that it would be LARRY GAGOSIAN sweeping it up. in the gallery sweepstakes. first with the awesome DAN COLEN show last month, and now with the doubleheader: JOHN CURRIN uptown, and the huge dense ANSELM KEIFER show downtown . . . though it’s hard to tell if these gangbuster shows are actually critically acclaimed. is it only me – or does anybody else out there question why our supposedly best critics fill so much of their required musings – with basic descriptions of the art work – when, not only has the medium of photography already been invented, but most galleries offer extensive websites filled with installation shots and still pix. Gogo even has a video of the Keifer show running on his website. though it loops without a soundtrack, which feels pretty damn creepy – though I guess that is a whole other can of conceptual worms – the practice and theory of adding a musical score to an installation video, grad students. welcome aboard.

at any rate, KEN JOHNSON concludes his NEW YORK TIMES – ‘take’ ? – on the John Currin show, thus: “The way Mr. Currin hides genuine feelings behind coy facades is irritating, but his paintings remain fascinatingly bizarre”. o.k. if you say so, well they are pretty compelling, and erotic always sells. no doubt about it, at least the first time around – tourists, students and blue chip players, rush over !! if it’s not really the cutting edge – well, at least it’s the biggest freak show in town – and, maybe the way things are going – that’s a good thing. at least it’s not a gooey thing . . .

while, his colleague ROBERTA SMITH writes up the ANSELM KIEFER show as a must-see over-the-top and deep-as-the-bible production, or was that deep as a German Wagnerian opera – though again, after many academic sentences and descriptive passages of the work – we still aren’t exactly sure of her inner most feelings ? but, she does open with: “Mr. Kiefer’s latest efforts take the ash-strewn, desiccated wasteland where his art has long dwelt to new enveloping extremes.” so I guess that’s a good thing. and come to think of it – I think her use of the word “wasteland” – was the inspiration for this whole essay !!

so, I guess I got my part of the game – the so-called cutting edge underground down – as in –
the KENT DORN shows at FREIGHT+VOLUME – called it right on the dot, as usual. I don’t know how I do it, Charlie – I guess I just look at the images people send me – and when I see something I like – well, usually where there’s a flame, a spark – there’s a fire.

and, looks like the big bonfire – is on 24th St !!

how fun, such a big town – and, really all you have to do – is run across the street, literally – 24th St. – ha – to see the two best shows in town: FREIGHT+VOLUME on the south side of the street representing the new, Kent Dorn; and GAGOSIAN on the north side of the street holding firm with that radical old guard, Anslem Kiefer. a tree might grow in Brooklyn – but, a flame glows bright in Chelsea.

and, speaking of CHARLIE FINCH:
did you really treat my big mouth contributor, roving party crasher and sometime music critic – SIMON CERIGO to a great meal of rack of lamb and all the fine wine he could drink – just to ask him – his ‘esteemed’ take on the state of the art – world ? it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to divine that Gagosian is making a clean sweep – and that on the other side of the ledger, I mean street – the Kent Dorn show is the best that’s out there. I hear tell – that was exactly what Simon told you. too. even though we had not exchanged notes. and we are deadly rivals – so a double line-up – like that, is pretty much – a shoo-in.

I also hear you poured on the charm & food for another, perhaps more compelling reason, you sneak – you wanted the lowdown on the Kathy Grayson, aka the Hole – glue show.

com’ on, Charlie I know the hype is hard to decipher . . . and the glam context, or the supposed glam context – is so desperately wanted in this tough town. but, forget it, man. not to be. maybe only for artinfo.
heard even Simon told you . . . “been there done that ” !! ha. exactly my words. too.
ha. double dutch – high five me !!

how do I know ? I have a spy on the payroll – at Bottino’s !! HAPPY THANKSGIVING, turkeys.
next time take me out to eat !! I’ll set you straight, too.

SIMON CERIGO, and NANCY SMITH – with little Kate and Theo Cerigo – aged 4 and 1 – in front of their storefront home/studio – 5 Rivington St. East Storefront – just 1/2 a block up from the Bowery. Lower East Side, NYC. SPRING 1990.

listen up all you losers, like I already told you a hundred times before – all street cred – esp all art street cred – really does bubble up – from the ‘critics’ on the street . . . the writers, artists, and party crashers sharing the vie – if not the fame. Lower East Side in 80s, Soho in the 60s. Lower Manhattan below Canal in the 50s. maybe it’ll be your hood – next !!