Wet Paint: Frank Ocean Moves Into a Storied Studio Building, Hong Kong Hits Dealers With New Quarantines, & More Art-World Gossip

What artist made a video for the new Balenciaga campaign? Who's the latest mega-dealer to open a gallery in Palm Beach? Read on for answers.

Frank Ocean out and about in Manhattan in April 2019. (Photo by Robert Kamau/GC Images)

Every week, Artnet News brings you Wet Paint, a gossip column of original scoops reported and written by Nate Freeman. If you have a tip, email Nate at [email protected].



For the last two decades a Chinatown building on Canal Street, surrounded by noodle shops and cut-rate bus services, has low-key held sway as a bustling hub of downtown art-world activity. The legendary run began in 2003, when Ryan McGinley and Dan Colen shared a loft on the second floor of the then-desolate corner of Canal and Eldridge. The space wasn’t completely off the map for artists—James Siena had been on the fifth floor of the building for decades, and his floor-mate was the publisher Harlan & Weaver—but McGinley and Colen’s move from the East Village sparked a shift that would inform a larger cool-kid migration deeper into Chinatown.

Colen moved into new digs after a few years, but the spirit of the place as a haven for downtown art types endures. McGinley is still there, even if his beloved diner across the street, Cup & Saucer, closed a few years back. Artist Jeff Elrod spent time in the building, as did the creative director Babak Radboy. Until recently, the artist Peter Sutherland had his studio in the building, and ran a project space, Pray for This Gallery, out of the second floor. Tony Cox’s hush-hush project space, Club Rhubarb, hosts infrequent bursts of wildness in a tiny space. Currently in the building are the artists Chad Moore, Aine Vonnegut, Erik Wysocan and many others. When Lucien Smith opened offices in the building for his trailblazing art incubator, Serving the People, the gallerist and downtown legend Leo Fitzpatrick summed up the vibe of the building’s history in a pithy Instagram comment: “Canal Street Melrose Place.”

Now there’s a new guest star to turn some heads in the neighborhood. Wet Paint can reveal that the enigmatic pop star Frank Ocean has taken a studio in the building, and is often seen ducking in and out of the space during the week. It’s unclear exactly what projects he’s working on, though sources say there’s no indication that he’s working on a new record in his new flat. No one has heard any new tunes blasting through the old walls. Rather, it’s more likely he’s working on other things, treating the space like an art studio just like his fellow residents (he’s collaborated with a number of visual artists, including Wolfgang Tillmans, who shot the cover of his last album, Blonde).

A portrait of Frank Ocean by Wolfgang Tillmans, on view at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin. Photo courtesy Irish Museum of Modern Art.

A portrait of Frank Ocean by Wolfgang Tillmans, on view at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin. Photo courtesy Irish Museum of Modern Art.

But speaking of albums, it has been a number of years since he’s released one, and his secretive nature makes any sighting of the singer catnip to fans. Though he lives in Manhattan—some years ago he bought an apartment at 56 Leonard, the Herzog & de Meuron-designed skyscraper colloquially known as the Jenga Building—he’s rarely seen out. When he was noticed hopping into a car with Tyler, the Creator this week at Spring Street and Lafayette Street, it was the first time he had been photographed in months.

A rep for Ocean did not respond to a request for comment.



A man walks past a billboard for the Art Basel art fair in Hong Kong on March 2015. Photo courtesy PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP via Getty Images)

A man walks past a billboard for the Art Basel art fair in Hong Kong on March 2015. Photo: PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP via Getty Images)

Looking forward to going to Art Basel Hong Kong in May? You should also be looking forward to three straight weeks in a government-assigned hotel room subsisting on meals-on-trays without ever being able to leave! Now that quarantine requirements will officially be in place through September, per the HK government, the only way to get to the biggest fair in Asia is to endure a hotel stay on your own dime—while some packages start at $1,300 for the three weeks for a basic room, amenities such as a window that you can open a crack will cost extra. A double suite at the Crowne Plaza Hong Kong Causeway Bay will set you back nearly $15,000.

The fair was initially pushed from March to May, as organizers hoped it could then take place in a world where travel was more possible. That did not happen!

Two quarantined travellers in the same room making a thumbs down gesture out of their windows in the Radisson in London in February 2021. Photo by Jonathan Brady/PA Images via Getty Images.

Two quarantined travellers in the same room making a thumbs down gesture out of their windows in the Radisson in London in February 2021. Photo by Jonathan Brady/PA Images via Getty Images.

Locals and mega-galleries with staff or outposts in town will be OK, but will any dealer with their name on the door endure the three-week stay just to stand at a booth and sell art? Deputies sent in their bosses’ stead should expect to sacrifice quite a bit. When he had to man the booth at the West Bund fair in November, Thaddaeus Ropac director Nick Buckley Wood had to spend two weeks in a local hotel before being able to leave. He was not a fan.

“I will actively avoid this kind of quarantine situation again,” Wood told us.

Art Basel spox declined to comment.



Many of you knew that last week’s image was the great David Hammons body print Don’t Bite the Hand That Feeds (1974), which is in the collection of Nicolas and Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn. The couple have very generously lent the work to the incredible show at the Drawing Center. Missing that show would be an enormous mistake! Go today!

Here are the first ten responders. All will be getting Wet Paint hats eventually, once we get through sending them to the earlier quiz winners. And for those willing to buy, we realized that last week’s first batch sold out rather quickly, so another batch will be on the way soon, once again via the brilliant minds at Know Wave.

Here are the winners: William Leach, a former trusts, estates, and valuations coordinator at Phillips; Matthew McLean, senior editor, Frieze Studios; Dan Desmond, executive director of the Blue Rider Group at Morgan Stanley; Katie Rothstein, content manager here at Artnet (we gave no hints to Katie, promise!); Meredith Darrow, founder of Darrow Contemporary; friend of the column Tom Lee; Melissa Morris, vice president in Post-war and contemporary art at Christie’s; Dakota Sica, director at Leslie Feely; Lauren Hanson, Stefan Engelhorn Fellow in the Busch-Reisinger Museum at Harvard Art Museums; and the writer and critic Greg Allen. Congrats to all the winners!

Here is this week’s quiz. It’s a little different than usual. Identify as many people in this picture as you can, and we’ll list those who get the most correct.

Send guesses to [email protected]. Winners receive the incredibly in-demand Wet Paint hat as well as an incredible amount of bragging rights.



Loic Gouzer. (Photo by Gary Gershoff/WireImage)

Loïc Gouzer. (Photo by Gary Gershoff/WireImage)

Record-breaking rainmaker Loïc Gouzer will be staging the next iteration of Fair Warning—his one-lot-a-week auction app that whipped collectors into a frenzy last summer—at Pace Palo Alto, courtesy a friendship with Pace president Marc Glimcher, who, like Gouzer, is a marine-life conservation activist … John Miller made an incredible video for the Balenciaga summer 2021 pre-collection campaign … Alex Perweiler, once an artist in the Still House Group—remember the halcyon Obama-era days of the Still House Group?—has opened a gallery in Los AngelesAdam Abdalla, founder of Cultural Counsel, has published another edition of Orange Crush, the definitive journal about professional wrestling and contemporary art … Tanya Merrill is now repped by 303 GalleryGovernor Andrew Cuomo will let movie theaters open March 4, but not all of the city’s cherished art houses will fire up the projectors—Film Forum is coming back, but the beloved Metrograph in Dimes Square will stay dark until September …

Marcus Jahmal, Windows (2020). Photo courtesy the artist and the Walker Art Center.

Marcus Jahmal‘s Windows (2020) was acquired by the Walker Art Center in MinneapolisSkarstedt will open an outfit in Palm Beach, joining Pace, Acquavella, and Levy Gorvy at the Royal Poinciana Plaza starting March 6 … Speaking of Palm Beach, Pace has extended its lease on the billionaire-stuffed Floridian isle through spring 2022—it looks like the collectors aren’t coming back to New York in any big hurry … Lucien Smith has made his first NFT work, selling for 1.5 ETH ($2,394.08), and he’s already sold two of the ten editions … Gladstone‘s Cooke Maroney, the art dealer who married actor Jennifer Lawrence in 2019, is now director at large at the gallery—the new director of Gladstone’s 64th Street gallery, Maroney’s old role, is Danielle Cardoso ShaefferRyder Ripps directed a video for Azealia Banks—who is now his fiancée, that was quick!—at the Perez Art Museum Miami … Monita and Raymond Wong, the parents of the late artist Matthew Wong—who has become an art-market sensation, with work selling for $4.9 million—donated their son’s masterwork, Unknown Pleasures (2019), a highlight of his final show at Karma in the fall of 2019, to the Museum of Modern Art

Matthew Wong, Unknown Pleasures (2019). Photo courtesy MoMA.


*** Roe Ethridge shooting the Met-steps-dwelling kids in the new edition of Gossip Girl for the cover of Dazed—you know you love me, xoxo *** Heji Shin at Clandestino talking about working with Lil Uzi Vert, who might die because it’s apparently toxic to have a diamond installed in your forehead, please hang in there Uzi *** Thea Westreich, the eternally cool collector and advisor, at her neighborhood spot, Fanelli, where every server knew her name and her order, accompanied by Reena Spaulings founder Emily Sundblad *** The artist Robin Winters hosting a small dinner at his classic, sprawling Mercer Street loft for artist Zoë Argires, who has been the artist-in-residence at the Key Club, the project space in Winters’s studio, where she’s now showing work by appointment ***



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