East Village Art Gallery Charges Artists to Appear in Nonexistent Show, Don Lemon Speaks Out… About His Art Collection, and More Juicy Art World Gossip

Plus, which mega gallery had ChatGPT write their press release? Who partied at Casino to celebrate Clearing's new space on Bowery?

The exterior of what used to be the East Village Art Collection. Photo by Annie Armstrong.

Every week, Artnet News brings you Wet Paint, a gossip column of original scoops. If you have a tip, email Annie Armstrong at [email protected].


Every now and again, I hear stories in the art world that make me plead to God that karma is real, and to make it royally spank certain people. For all my readers who are diligently working their keisters off in the gallery world, please keep up the good work! Because I’m pretty sure there is a class of people who see the gallery ecosystem as primarily an opportunity to flagrantly rip off eager artists.

Which brings me to a now shuttered operation called the East Village Art Collection. Earlier this month, the hyper-local East Village news blog EV Grieve reported that 25 artists contributed works to a group show at the space on First Avenue and 13th Street, only to show up at the scheduled opening and find a locked gallery with papered-over windows and a sign—apparently from owner Steven Hirsch—apologizing to “artists and guests” about an “unexpected medical emergency” that had forced a cancellation. 

Adding to the disappointment and concern? The artists had been charged $25 to apply to the group show—and then an additional $475 once their work was selected.

A sign outside of the EVAC. Photo by Annie Armstrong.

Eleven days after the opening was supposed to take place, Wet Paint went snooping by the gallery to find Su Barikan, a painter who had a canvas in the show, waiting for the gallery to open so she could retrieve her work. I ducked in the door to find a man, not Hirsch, who refused to talk to me other than to say that he’d only worked at the gallery for a few months; the ceiling of the place had what appeared to be clods of cotton stuck to it, presumably to look like a sky, maybe? (The space is now up for lease, go figure.)

Barikan explained that she moved from Turkey to New York seven months ago and was just eager to have her work shown at a gallery in the storied neighborhood of East Village. Artists with work in the show were given four “complimentary tickets” to the opening, she said, and she bought an additional ticket for $39.47 (!) to give another friend—only to receive a push notification from Eventbrite 30 minutes before the opening to alter her the show was closed.

Now? She just feels embarrassed for, as she sees it, getting snookered out of $500. “There was no message to the artists, we just got individual texts later with appointments to pick up our work,” she said; moreover, there was no word about a refund, and Barikan’s efforts to reach Hirsch have failed.

Charging artists to have their work displayed is a well-worn ploy (remember Agora Gallery in Chelsea that charges artists thousands of dollars for representation?), but you have to have some sympathy for these artists who don’t know better. One participating artist travelled all the way from Florida to attend the opening.

A request for comment or explanation from Hirsch, whose website for EVAC decrees that “Art is often inaccessible and we are here to change that,” was not answered by the time of publication. A PSA, though, for any emerging artists who might read this column: if a gallerist is charging you to show your work, start running.



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A post shared by Don Lemon (@donlemoncnn)

Man, what a week for news, huh? For once, I’m actually not talking about the news cycle around the art world, which was actually pretty tame this week. Instead, it was the one-two punch of mega-media pink slips handed to the figureheads at rival networks CNN and Fox that made waves in my mindspace, with both sides of the banister stunned by the sudden firings of Don Lemon and Tucker Carlson.

I can’t speak for Tucker Carlson, but I do happen to have some inside knowledge about where we might see Don Lemon next—and it’s out and about in the art world. If you know, you know, but in case you don’t: Lemon is a pretty prolific collector (works closely with advisor and podcast interviewer of the stars, Benjamin Godsill), and I can exclusively reveal a few artists in his collection. Among those works that likely hang in either his New York City or Sag Harbor residence are primo examples by such talents as Pope.L, Rashid Johnson, Janiva Ellis, Umar Rashid, Marcus Brutus, Spencer Lewis, Lauren Halsey, Uman, Jonathan Lyndon ChaseSheree Hovsepian, Nathaniel Oliver, Chris Ofili, and Tunji Adeniyi-Jones.

“I’m lucky enough to be able to live surrounded by the work of artists that are an inspiration to me, with a focus on work by artists of color,” Lemon told Wet Paint this week in a written statement about his holdings. “My collection includes artworks by friends who have helped to deepen my understanding of the world through always poetic and often challenging practices.”

In fact, it turns out Lemon is even a bit of socialite within the art circuit. Within just this past month alone, he’s been spotted chatting with David Kordansky at the opening of Lauren Halsey’s roof-garden commission at the Met, and at Cipriani South Street for the New Museum’s spring gala. Presumably, Lemon is about to have a lot more free time on his hands, and I’d bet we’ll start spotting him at more and more art events. As he told me himself, “In addition to the privilege of living with these works, it has been a treat to get to know many of their makers and engage in a discourse with them about their lives and practices.” See you at Frieze, Don! 


For their next act, O’Flaherty’s is offering discounted botox… David Salle has moved on from Skarstedt to work with Barbara Gladstone… The New Museum has come out with a chrome skateboard deck shaped like their building, which has been somewhat unilaterally made fun of by most of the skaters I follow on Instagram… Speaking of skaters, apparently Rob Dyrdek is something of a collector, and recently showed off his Joel Mesler painting in the entryway of his house… Nicodim has added Ángeles Agrela to its ever-expanding roster… Harkawik is expanding in Los Angeles by moving to a new space in Melrose HillGagosian wrote a press release for their new Alex Israel show with ChatGPT, and honestly the bot kind of nailed the redundant artspeak we come to expect from gallery press releases… 



Lucien Smith parodying himself *** Adam Lindemann dining at the always lovely Cafe Mogador on Saint Marks on a casual Wednesday *** Swizz Beatz remarking in a speech at the Brooklyn Museum gala that they are the most disruptive museum in the world, saying, “There’s even a protest outside. That’s how you know it’s fire!”—apparently without realizing that the museum’s own workers were the ones protesting, picketing for a fair union contract *** Jessica Alba dropped by for a studio visit with Los Angeles-based painter Danie Cansino *** Kelly Cornell, the director of the Dallas Art Fair, doing a keg-stand at the home of collector David Liu *** Clearing opened its impressive new space on the Bowery this week, and Harold AncartCalvin MarcusKaterina Tannenbaum, and Miles Greenberg showed up for a pretty spectacular after-party at Casino, where shrimp cocktails and espresso martinis were in abundance ***

? ⭐ CASTING CALL! ?️ ?

Last week’s Casting Call prompt was a popular one! It was tough to decide who should play Dan Colen, Dash Snow, and Ryan McGinley in their delightfully destructive and freewheeling adolescence (shout out to artist Esteban Jefferson, who gets honorable mention for suggesting that Lil Dicky should play Colen). This week’s winning cast comes from Zachary Silva, client liaison registrar at Jack Shainman, who cast Bradley Cooper to play Colen, Jamie Dornan as Dash Snow, and Benedict Cumberbatch for Ryan McGinley. How perfect!

Next up is one that seems fairly obvious, actually. Let’s cast a Bourne Identity-style action-thriller about Inigo Philbrick fleeing from New York City for the island of Vanuatu. Let’s cast Philbrick, a suspicious neighbor on Vanuatu, his wife Victoria Baker-Harber, and the former mentor he defrauded, Jay Jopling.

Email your answers to [email protected] to win a Wet Paint hat.

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