In the art world, there’s a saying, “Everybody had lunch with Andy the day before he died.”
You can imagine my dismay in recent days when, as a journalist, the number of people with tangential relationships to Dash Snow wishing to be quoted snowballed far beyond the number who knew him well and who spoke so eloquently of his life. The man, post-mortem, appears to have had more collaborators than the army that erected Christo’s “Gates.”
I knew Snow virtually not at all, just a conversation and an invite to his Christmas party. It was an awful rather than a mythical event, although perhaps I’m jealous and prejudiced since his scene was, in messiness, illegal accessories, trust-fund rebellion, sloppy dress and affect, shockingly identical to my junior year of college at Wesleyan. (LEFT: PHOTO BY CHERYL DUNN)
So, I went to the Dash Snow memorial at Deitch Projects on Grand Street with a jaundiced eye. Would Deitch, a genius marketer take care not to nudge the memorial towards capitalization on the tragedy? Would the event glamorize or gloss over his heroin habit, as, arguably, Snow and Dan Colen’s 2007 show “Nest” did? And, cringing at the thought, would fellow artists slap their names in big letters on the tributes, knowing collectors would see them? Deitch’s prescience as a dealer is really only disputed by the jealous, but setting his gallery up as the “Dakota” of the mourning was ballsy. Visitors are even encouraged to bring flowers, a seeming slash of traditionalism for the otherwise-elegant showman. The memorial, like any artist’s desolate death-by-heroin, threatened to border cliché.
Yet, it does not. The ever-growing “Community Memorial,” up through Aug. 15, is one of the most curious and affecting shows in the city. Orchids, and small sprays of pink, yellow and white roses, dying, dot one slice of the floor. Photo after photo of the magnetic man with the Rasputin looks, some cuddling his daughter, hugging friends, climbing walls, lounging in dirty T-shirts or naked, line the walls. There’s a shocking universality: They look like everyone’s photos if you came of age and were quite good-looking anytime in the last quarter century somewhere in the counter-culture. No wonder everyone feels they knew, even owned, this man.
In among the most affecting of the tributes, Snow’s kindergarten teacher at theTrinity School has sent in the class photo. It is not clearly marked who Dash is. The viewer just stares at the adorable little boys and wonders, with sadness: Which one is gone?
An American Triptych
The summer can give younger artists the spotlight, and a chance to experiment in sometimes unlikely spaces. Here, a talk with three such artists—Jorge Rojas, Bram Tihany and Cassie Ramone—featured in events or exhibitions around the country this week.
Bring cheeseburgers. That’s the message from Jorge Rojas, who, tonight through Aug. 7 will live inside a large cardboard box at North Miami’s Diaspora Vibe Gallery and broadcast a live video feed continuously on BlogTV.com. Rojas has staged similar performances in four other cities and says he’s attempting to address both issues of privacy and of how technology is changing our society: Are the high-tech ways “we’re using to connect actually isolating us?” He asks. The artist admits that similar artist-living-in-a-gallery projects have been done before, but says he offers new-media twists. Plus, his “Will Work For Food” sign is honest, he adds. Rojas has made no arrangements for sustenance for the week and is hoping viewers bring him meals in swap for artworks.
Comic books and Russian constructivism inform the work of New York photographer and painter Bram Tihany, whose photographs are featured in the new project space Benson-Keyes Gallery opening at a Southampton, N.Y., warehouse this weekend. Bram is better known in New York for more commercial projects: DC comics colorist (Batman! Wonder Woman!) and his company’s specialty of designing art for restaurants. (His father, architectural designer Adam Tihany, has done Mandarin Orientals in Geneva, Hyde Park and Las Vegas, Per Se restaurant, Le Cirque, etc.) Bram admits there are some constrictions when doing art for restaurants like Aureole in New York and Aria in Las Vegas,. “Imagine if Michelangelo had painted the Sistine Chapel like a Francis Bacon; they would have burned the church down,” he notes. But, overall, he’s usually given about $70,000 per project and surprising carte blanche by the chefs. For Charlie Palmer’s Wind, in Dallas, he did a surreal series on weather in the movies, including an apocalyptic Mary Poppins and a version of “The Wizard of Oz” in which in the whirling farmhouse lands smack-dab on munchkins. “All I said was :Here: Munchkins, and he went for it,” he says.
In Manhattan, Cassie Ramone and her “The Vivian Girls” band members take the stage at the Whitney Museum of American Art tonight at 8 (another band opens for them at 7 p.m. and admission is ‘pay what you will.) The New Jersey-born band is something of a punk mix of the Shirelles and Sonic Youth, and the Whitney gig is their first show on a four-continent tour that plays several museum and art spaces, along with standard music venues. Ramone, a recent Pratt Graduate, says “artist friends and friends of friends” have helped the band get a network of booking at art and museum spaces, which they prefer to standard music venues because of “the care” and thought that tends to go into them. (The band’s name comes from an artwork by outsider artist Henry Darger.) The tour will end Halloween night, likely at the Masonic Temple in Queens, she says.
More than two-dozen New York galleries have closed in the past several months, several with the promise that they are merely relocating. But Bryce Wolkowitz has gone to the trouble to prove it. The gallery is giving hard-hat preview tours of its new space at 505 West 24th Street this summer. The new gallery will launch with on September 17 with an group show featuring the work of Yongseok Oh, Alan Rath, Ben Rubin, and Marina Zurkow, among other artists.
The Archives of American Art has picked its annual honorees. On Oct. 29, it will salute sculptor Richard Artschwager, collector Douglas S. Cramer and Jack Lenor Larsen, a collector and textile designer best known for his Hamptons arts space and garden, LongHouse Reserve.. On the same evening, at its annual gala in New York, the Archives’ Lawrence A. Fleischman Award for will be presented to independent curator Klaus Kertess.