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Out in the Cold, with Vito Schnabel; By Weekend, Gavin Brown Feeds Us Chilli

March 1, 2010

Darling, adorable  Chloe Sevigny, in fabulous fur coat that I told her I will steal if she leaves it on a chair.

(*All text and photos by Susan M. Kirschbaum)

Is Vito Schnabel good for the art world?

He left me cold. Literally. Out in the snow. On Thursday evening, inspired by the Bruce High Quality’s mission to democratize the art world, I trekked some blocks in a blizzard to check out the “Brucennial,” the collective’s third group show piss take on the Whitney Biennial. Not until arriving in a crowd jamming towards the entrance of a space on West Broadway did I hear that the installation featured over four hundred artists from all over the globe with many little hipsters trying to sneak through the rotund door guard’s legs and when caught, swearing, “I am in the show!”

Back to the wolves, bitches!…

Via a lucky break through at the door, I  managed to greet a live Franceso Clemente and see  walls lined with several paintings, including a large portrait of an African woman by Julian Schnabel, a photograph of photog  Terry Richardson, nude, with an upright ten inch cock, a black and white painting by Donald Baechler of a boy’s head in a bull’s eye, and my favorite: a painting of a box with a music stand in front of it, with sheet music that read, “How to Paint a Box.”

Funny stuff.

The door scene: not so funny.

I blame Vito Schnabel –Julian Schnabel’s 23-year-old son– who managed to sign onto this Bruce project as curator.  The kid knows too many aspirants. To his credit — and he does seem genuinely sweet — he tried to get friends and friends of friends (including me) through the gallery doors and to the after party, running up and down the block in the snow. I heard two guys nearly spilled beers on his dad, talented director (and visual artist) Julian at the sardine can post fete.

But, hell, this all seemed somewhat “anti Bruce High Quality.” More like low-grade kegger.

A much different vibe presided at Gavin Brown’s gallery a couple nights later. Jokester artist Rob Pruitt hosted an opening party for a week long exhibit of signatures of many artists and art world luminaries — including dealers/gallerists Larry Gagosian and Tony Shafrazi and clever artists like Tracey Emmin and Maurizio Cattelan– a few of the names lining the walls.

Pruitt signed books (selling at cost for $25 each) of “Pop Touched Me,”(Abrams),  a tome representing some of his work as well as quotes by famed creatives dedicated to Pruitt from artists like Marilyn Minter, Cecily Brown, and author Brett Easton Ellis. I glanced that Pruitt signed three of them, “Suck my dick.” I figured these must be for close personal friends. I chatted with Nate Lowman who lined up  for his autograph, as did artist Hope Atherton, and photographer Todd Eberle. Editor/stylist/curator  Julie Ragolia walked away with a panda alien drawing and “Rob Pruitt 2010” in big letters.

This couldn’t  be narcissism. It’s too free-spirited.

As a pianist  continued to play show tunes on the baby grand at the center of the gallery, Gavin Brown  kindly invited several of us upstairs to chow down on chilli, salad, and cookies, most welcomed on a cold winter evening. Chloe Sevigny sat in the back with  her leopard coat by her side and I could not  take my eyes off it. Such beauty and warmth. She told me she got it from her “mom’s best friend. It’s from Neiman Marcus.” Vintage, of course.

Now, if only I had one of those when Vito tried to air lift a bunch of us through the party doors on West Broadway, I might have withstood the sled dog maneuver that pulled half of our crew inside.

Maybe I just needed a video camera to shoot the entire scene, artists and kids with good hair cuts melting under fat freezing flakes while cussing at the metal doors,  moving forward and backward into a frenzied rave.

That alone could have counted as art, a true New York City moment.

Very Bruce High Quality.

Artist Nate Lowman peruses “Pop Touched Me,” Rob Pruitt’s book


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