Canada Gallery Gains an Intriguing New Partner—and More Juicy Art World Gossip

Plus, is anyone in the art world paying attention to the U.S. presidential election?

Tif Sigfrids. Photo by Daniel Dent.

Every week, Artnet News brings you Wet Paint, a gossip column of original scoops. If you have a tip, email Annie Armstrong—who’s spending her summer in Los Angeles—at [email protected].


Last week, Wet Paint took a close look at the recent spate of gallery closures in New York. There have been at least seven so far this year, and now there are two more. This afternoon, dealer Simone Subal announced in an email blast that she is shuttering “after nearly 13 years and over 90 inspiring shows.” And I can report that dealer Tif Sigfrids has closed her spaces in both New York and Athens, Georgia. There is some good news here, though: Sigfrids has joined the Canada gallery in Tribeca as a partner.

“I’ve been doing this thing by myself for 11 years now, and while some people would love to have all that autonomy, I miss being part of a bigger world, or something that feels bigger than myself,” she told me by phone.

If you’re not familiar with Sigfrid’s efforts, you have missed out! She started a project called “Tif’s Desk” back in 2014 when she was director at Thomas Solomon Gallery in Los Angeles, creating DIY shows at her desk, literally. “I basically lost my job because these exhibitions in the desk were overshadowing the regular shows,” she told Elephant magazine.

Next, Sigfrids opened her own space in Hollywood, and eventually she moved the gallery to the Classic City, Athens, Georgia (sic ‘em, Dawgs!), where her shows helped launch the careers of artists like Joe Sola, Becky Kolsrud, and Mimi Lauter. In 2021, she hung out a shingle in New York.

Along the way, she met Canada co-founder Phil Grauer, and the two became friends. “She was just this funny, bubbly guy that I got along with,” he said. Their connection was really cemented when Sigfrids asked Canada to give her some Tyson Reeder paintings for a group show at her space. “I got really hard-ass about it, I only allowed two paintings, not three,” Grauer said, laughing. “It was through that consignment that they met!” Now she and Reeder are married. “I never had a situation in which consignment brought on romance,” he said, “but it can!”

Sigfrids started work at Canada this week. The first show she’s organizing there will be a solo outing by the abstract painter Hasani Sahlehe, whom she represented. “I think I’ll still get to be creative in the way that I’ve felt with my own gallery, but just within this larger framework,” she told me. “I’m just treating it like the next chapter.”

Sigfrids is not bringing her roster to Canada as a package, but some of her artists will be involved with the gallery organically, over time, as she programs show, she said. She also expressed her enthusiasm about being at an artist-run space like Canada. “It’s crucial that these kinds of galleries still exist,” she said, “because everything is becoming so impersonal, and big for no reason, and seems to revolve purely around business strategy.”


A truism from the journalism world: Often, the story is what is not being said.

When former President Donald J. Trump was found guilty of 34 felony counts by a New York state court last week, I logged onto social media to see what art types were saying about it. Turns out, not a whole lot.

That probably shouldn’t have been a surprise. Though Trump became the presumptive GOP nominee months ago, he is not exactly a hot topic in the art world right now. And though the U.S. presidential campaign has begun, art workers have been fairly quiet about the looming contest between Trump and President Biden.

The past two election cycles saw immense efforts from artists and art organizations to register voters, bring awareness to progressive causes, and raise money for Democratic candidates. This time around: crickets, comparatively speaking. What is going on?

Critic and artist Walter Robinson offered some theories. “Maybe the art world is all about fads and Joe and Kamala are definitely old news,” he said. “Maybe because Trump is such a blithering idiot nobody can stand thinking about him for one minute. Maybe the art-world left is too radical for Joe Biden.” Also, he said, “I think many art world politicos are focused on the Middle East and Ukraine.”

Another possibility: While there has been plenty of activism around the war in Gaza, the fallout that some have faced for airing their opinions has caused others to stay silent on all political matters. As painter Jo Messer put it, “Everyone thinks their art will be sold in a giant fire sale if they say the wrong thing.”

Co-founder of online art exhibition “Art At a Time Like This” Barbara Pollack agreed that, until around December (when many in the art world were nervous about being asked “the question” about Israel and Gaza, as my colleague Katya Kazakina put it), people had been speaking about politics more openly. “I think there’s more confusion than there is fatigue,” Pollack said. “And too often we turn on each other when we feel like we can’t make a change.”

Artist Marilyn Minter, whose ardent anti-Trump and pro-choice activism has become perhaps as influential as her art practice, proposed that the softer art market right now might be keeping some artists from donating works to charity sales. Though Minter is continuing her activism, she said that she empathizes with artists who are hesitant to take part. “You have to work with the parameters you’re given, and you have to work strategically at all times.”

That said, the election is still 151 days away, so there is plenty of time for artists to ramp up their activities. Regardless, it is going to be a long summer.



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If Punxsutawney Phil‘s shadow gets to determine the start of spring, then Klaus Biesenbach‘s hair is in charge of inaugurating Pride Month. Happy Pride!…  The layoffs and budget cuts at Sotheby’s appear to be affecting the entire company, from nose to tail. One tipster told me that even a beloved doorman at its New York location has had his hours reduced… Dream summer-job alert: Karma is looking for a gallery assistant for its space up in Thomaston, Maine, for a couple of weeks this summer. The job pays $35 an hour, and no previous experience is required (unconventional backgrounds are even encouraged, according to the job post)… The MoMA Garden Party on Tuesday night was a real who’s-who of the donor elite, with Dasha Zhukova, Agnes Gund, Alexandre and Géraldine Arnault, and Sarah Arison all spotted on the AstroTurf carpet… Speaking of elites, Tico and Colby Mugrabi were allegedly on hand at West Village hangout Bar Pitti to witness Uncut Gems actor Wayne Diamond throw a temper tantrum at the wait staff for asking him to lower his voice… Does anyone want to place bets on Jamian Juliano-Villani versus Sean Tatol?…



Matthew Tully Dugan preparing dishes for Dorsia at One Trick
Pony in Los Angeles.

“Party of the Week” honors go to artist Matthew Tully Dugan’s opening dinner for his new show in Los Angeles at One Trick Pony, “In The Beginning,” runs until the end of the month. Dugan took on the task of cooking and hosting his own celebratory feast within the space. In keeping with his goth-meets-pop-culture aesthetic, the entire affair was inspired by Dorsia, the fake restaurant that taunts Bret Easton Ellis’s protagonist in American Psycho (1991)

Dugas has been organizing these dinners for a few years now. “The concept of Dorsia has turned into a driving force that has led me to understand my practice on a whole other level,” Dugan told me about the events, which take him several days to prep. “I really enjoy getting to share what I’ve learned in a way that inspires other people without asking for something in return. I find it’s a generous way to lead when presenting new ideas and can really help bring people fully into the world I’m creating.”

Guests at Dorsia. Courtesy of Matthew Tully Dugan.

I had the pleasure of attending the first iteration of this dinner party at 56 Henry in New York in 2022, and walked away with a hand-knitted dinner napkin and a full belly. This time around, L.A. dealers like Sebastian Gladstone, Carlye Packer, and Bill Powers joined Hollywood types like Walker Bunting, Jack Kilmer, and Rowan Blanchard and artists Se Oh and Tristan Unrau to compare business card fonts over Thomas Keller’s potato pavé and braised pork belly—all prepared by the artist on hot plates in gallery owner Arty Nelson’s back office.

Anyhow, I need to go return some videotapes. I’ll see you next week.

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