Rays of Light

Another Opening, Another 85 Shows

These intrepid dealers join a group of former gallery directors turned gallery owners who are already well established. On January 11, Gavin Brown, perhaps the most intrepid of them all, celebrated his seventh anniversary with a show called "20 Year Anniversary." Brown's style is tribal and daring. His eye is prophetic, his personality charismatic, and his presence in New York has been indispensable. Former John Good director Carol Greene, who is part-owner of Greene Naftali, regularly does edgy exhibitions, and is currently showing Sergej Jensen, a young German painter who fits her profile to a tee. Former Paula Cooper director James Cohan, who had the smarts to install a wood floor in his Chelsea gallery, opened a breezy show called "Air," which features, in addition to works by Courbet and Constable, excellent sculptures by Olafur Eliasson, Erick Swenson, and Robert Gober; Antoni's ghost-behind-a-curtain piece; a great, glittering outdoor installation by newcomer Howard Goldkrand; and an intriguing video of jets taking off and landing in an apartment by Hiraki Sawa, who's still in art school in England.

Then there was the giant butt plug by Paul McCarthy installed in the smallest space in town, the Wrong Gallery, operated out of a doorway on West 20th Street by the dauntless crew of Maurizio Cattelan, Massimiliano Gioni, and Ali Subotnick. Someday we're all really going to miss this venture. Luckily for us, rebels and oddballs like these keep appearing. At American Fine Arts, run by Colin de Land (our Keith Richards), an electric blanket by '70s conceptualist John Knight lay on the floor of an otherwise empty gallery. As I overheard a viewer complain about "the waste of space," I though how great it is that gallerists are still willing to allow their spaces to be so subverted. Kenny Schachter, who for 15 years was a freelance curator/subverter himself, has settled into his own all-steel, Vito Acconci-designed space on Charles Lane. There, at the moment, is a batty sewn installation by Misaki Kawai. The closest thing to a don't-miss I saw all day, it features an enormous airplane made out of fabric with dolls of the Beatles as passengers. Meanwhile, Mitchell Algus, who supports his gallery working as a math teacher in Queens, and who should be given a MacArthur for his efforts in exhibiting artists who have slipped off everyone's radar, opened a yummy survey (organized by Jack Pierson) of the late publisher-designer-artist-author-bon vivant Charles Henri Ford.

The revving engine has not only allowed many of these gallerists to open, it has allowed them to stay open. This is making New York feel bigger, more accessible, and less predictable. Now when people tell you nothing good is going on, you can look at them and say, "If you can't see it, I can't help you."

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