Wet Paint: Karma Expands Its East Village Empire With a Blockbuster New Space, an Essential LA Gallery Defects to New York, & More Juicy Art-World Gossip

What crazy amount did a KAWS birthday-card scribble sell for? Which Lower East Side art bar might close forever? Read on for answers.

The interior of 22 East 2nd Street. Photo courtesy Ideal Glass.

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].


It has been four years since Karma, the East Village gallery founded by art dealer and publisher Brendan Dugan, opened in a former beverage distribution center on 2nd Street. And in those four years, it has been reinvigorating a neighborhood that, 30 years prior, was home to a small grid of groundbreaking artist-run spaces that introduced the world to Jeff Koons, Peter Halley, Ashley Bickerton, and so many others.

Karma’s current space on East 2nd Street. Photo courtesy Karma.

Since Karma put down stakes in the neighborhood, the Swiss Institute surprised the global demimonde by grabbing a building on still-scruffy St. Marks Place as its stateside beachhead. (It was not a familiar neighborhood for the institution’s patrons: At a 2017 Swiss Institute lunch in Basel, waiters put down as placemats maps of the East Village so local donors could get familiar with the new environs.) Recently, spaces like Fortnight Institute, Half Gallery, and Public Access have all opened nearby. Even billionaire collector Peter Brant bet on the neighborhood, opening an outpost of his Greenwich-based private museum in Walter De Maria’s old studio on East 6th Street last year.

Brendan Dugan attends Galerie Patrick Seguin presents “Carte Blanche To Karma.” Photo by Bertrand Rindoff Petroff/Getty Images for Galerie Patrick Seguin.

All the while, Karma set the pace for the East Village’s second act, adding spaces—including a second storefront on East 2nd Street and that essential slinger of rare tomes, Karma Books, on East 3rd Street. The programming is eclectic and air-tight. Highlights: A restaging of Urs Fischer’s Faules Fundament (Rotten Foundation) (1998/2017), Alex Da Corte’s glorious neon-horror dark mirror of America that was C-A-T Spells Murder, and “Blue,” the final suite of paintings by the late Matthew Wong.

Now, Karma is making its most ambitious move yet. Wet Paint can confirm that the dealership will be taking over the legendary Ideal Glass space at 22 East 2nd Street, which was built in the 1950s as a glazier’s workshop and still has the faded sign above the steel roll-down grate. Since 2004, it has been operated as an event space by the performer Willard Morgan, who is now handing the reins over to Karma and Dugan, who was spotted with Karma director Sinisa Mackovic at the space early Thursday morning as they set out to rejigger it into a pristine white cube.

22 East 2nd Street, future home of Karma. Photo courtesy Ideal Glass.

The pick-up adds 2,500 square feet of exhibition space to Karma’s Tompkins-adjacent footprint, but this latest venue is set to be the crown jewel. The ceiling height alone is enough to make a dealer salivate, and there will no doubt be a number of artists maneuvering for spots on the programming schedule.

Dugan—who founded Karma as a bookstore, which sprouted from An Art Service, the collaborative publishing concern he started in 2007—declined to comment.



The future home of Jenny’s in Chinatown, New York City. Photo via Google maps.

Let us tell you about the Los Angeles gallery Jenny’s, the eternally cool Silver Lake space opened in 2014 by Jenny Borland (who previously worked at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise and White Columns) and Mathew Sova (who met Borland while also working at White Columns, and previously held a post at foundational LA space Regen Projects). In six years, they’ve built a reputation for backing some of the more exciting artists in the City of Angels—such as Max Hooper Schneider, Pentti Monkkonen, and Liz Craft—while also giving shows to older artists including Chuck Nanney—the Neo-Geo trailblazer who had his his first show in Los Angeles at Jenny’s in 2014.

Installation shot of Carter Seddon’s show at Jenny’s, which closed in February 2020. Photo courtesy Jenny’s.

Now, Jenny’s is permanently uprooting and coming to Gotham—and what a boon for New York this is. Starting in November, Borland and Sova will be relocating Jenny’s to Chinatown, at 9 Pell Street, putting the outpost within spitting distance of the emerging string of galleries on Henry Street, the legacy spaces on the Lower East Side, and the range of recent Chelsea evacuees who have found storefronts in Tribeca. To orient you, reader: 9 Pell Street is the former home of legendary soup dumpling spot Joe’s Shanghai.

In an email, Borland confirmed that the gallery was moving to Chinatown and gave no further statement.



Congratulations to the winners of this last week’s quiz—several of you with deep knowledge of the film canon knew that it was a screenshot from the cinematic masterpiece Iron Man 3, and that the work pretend-owned by industrialist Tony Stark is Mark Rothko’s Ochre and Red on Red (1954). In real life, the work is owned by The Phillips Collection in Washington, DC, which acquired it in 1964. Check it out next time you’re in our nation’s capital!

Here’s who nailed this rather tricky edition of our weekly Pop Quiz. The winners are: the New York-based architect Peter McCourt; Darrow Contemporary founder Meredith Darrow (again!); Christie’s communications associate Stella Kim; Dickinson senior director William O’Reilly; Kayne Griffin Corcoran associate director Pejman Shojaei; Katherine Lukacher, head of online sales at Phillips; and Blake Koh, director of Phillips Los Angeles. Congrats to all the winners! Hats await!

Here is this week’s clue: This is a screen shot from a television show. Name the show, the artist who made the work in the background, and the title of the work.

Email [email protected] with all your guesses. Winners will receive the official Wet Paint artist-designed hat, which finally got the green light this week—the hats are coming, folks.



A view of the home built by Sterling Ruby. Photo courtesy Sotheby’s International Real Estate.

Sterling Ruby is selling his house in the San Fernando Valley neighborhood of Sunland, asking $1.2 million for the abode, which Ruby himself designed and built … the quick-scrawled KAWS drawing we told you about a few weeks ago—the one that was made hastily as a birthday present, only to have the gift-recipient go and consign the work at auction—sold at Hindman Auctions for a mind-boggling $16,250 … If he’s still traveling, Joe Biden will be speaking at the Pérez Art Museum Miami on Monday for a fundraiser in the must-win state’s biggest city … Los Angeles– and Paris-based gallery Freedman Fitzpatrick is now Fitzpatrick Gallery, and will focus on a “program of curated projects in site-specific venues worldwide” … There are still no fries at The Odeon—and now as we enter week four sans frites, the withdrawal symptoms among downtown artists and dealers have started to intensify … Now-gone Ludlow Street art bar Max Fish has spent the past few years in a fairly lovely Orchard Street location after the original space closed in 2013, and now that spot may be closing, too—owner Ulli Rimkus has reportedly sold the bar to an events group called 29 Monroe … Gallery Girls bad-guy gallerist Eli Klein has become a COVID truther on Twitter, constantly downplaying the threat of the virus—though he has not yet commented on the fact that President Donald Trump has contracted it … Countertop design firm Oso Industries installed some pretty rad new Venetian plaster sinks at the Harlem home of David Hammons

The new sinks at David Hammons’s place. Photo courtesy a tipster.


Sotheby’s Contemporary Curated head Charlotte Van Dercook, footballer Victor Cruz, and Sotheby’s CEO Charlie Stewart. Photo courtesy Instagram.

Victor Cruz, who quarterbacked the New York Giants to Super Bowl glory in early 2012—which if you can believe it is the most recent championship for any New York team, sigh—at Sotheby’s to see Barkley Hendricks’s painting Latin from Manhattan… the Bronx Actually (1980), which is set to sell for between $700,000 and $1 million in today’s Contemporary Curated sale *** Lovebirds Dua Lipa and Anwar Hadid blasting cigs, oozing cool, outside the entrance to the Bowery Hotel *** Beck, the ex-Scientologist rock hero who was seen at Lucien last week, is still hitting all the best spots in Manhattan, this time dining alfresco at Altro Paradiso for the unmissable Sunday live jazz night, where you have to get the whole roasted chicken, as it’s only on the menu Sundays *** Gavin Brown and Max Falkenstein, partners at Gladstone Gallery, dining at Soho institution Omen outside with a group of friends (mega-restaurateur Jean-George Vongerichten was at the table next to them) *** Hollywood super-producer collector Brian Grazer beaming into the CNBC cameras from home with a work by Takashi Murakami in the background ***

Brian Grazer on television. Photo courtesy, once again, the Instagram of White Columns director Matthew Higgs, the king of collecting screenshots of talking heads in front of their art.



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