Inside the New Underground Art World Poker League at Amanita, Queer Thoughts Says Ta-Ta (for Now?), and More Juicy Art World Gossip
Plus, what gallerist was caught dining en plein air in Paris with Alex Katz? Which art space is offering a bounty for whoever graffitied their windows?
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].
INSIDE AMANITA’S RED-HOT POKER LEAGUE
It seems like all the city is abuzz about Amanita, the gallery housed in the former CBGB space on Bowery that’s run by Garrett Goldsmith, Caio Twombly (yes, that Twombly), Tommaso Rositani Suckert, and Jacob Hyman. Every opening at the space is packed to the gills with New York Magazine It Girls plus anyone who ever modeled for Marc Jacobs’s buzzy “Heaven” campaign, got street-casted by a Safdie brother, or what have you. Suffice to say, it’s where the cool kids are at. And, oh… oh, my dear God. They’re organizing.
Wet Paint has learned that the founders of Amanita have been hosting semi-weekly poker nights in the basement of their space. Curious to learn more, I stopped by the gallery to see if they’d tell me anything more about these invite-only gatherings.
So is this an illegal-gambling den of iniquity à la Helly Nahmad’s old operation? “The games are always very above board,” Hyman assured me (the gallery does not take a rake and profit from the game, so rest assured it’s legal), “except one night my girlfriend’s dog accidentally got pregnant.” The post-op dog sat on the gallery floor. Well, what’s a poker game without a dose of vice?
Having art world insiders gather to play poker isn’t uncharted territory, Nahmad aside: if you attend Frieze Los Angeles, perhaps you’ve been privy to Jonas Wood’s annual World Series of Art Poker that goes on in the penthouse of the Hollywood Roosevelt, attracting such art luminaries as Mark Grotjahn, Richard Prince, and Alex Marshall while the Felix Art Fair roils in the hotel rooms below. It was about time that the New York art world picked up the tradition once more—though I do assert that the Lesbian Backgammon League has been a worthy foil to Wood’s tournament for several years now, trading in the hyper-masculine affair for a queer females exclusive.
Amanita’s version takes place in the gallery’s unfinished basement, which is well on its way to becoming a veritable amusement park. After a tour of their delightful new show “Works On Paper: 100 Years”—with well-priced goods by big names like John Currin, Alice Neel, Philip Guston, Pope.L, and Robert Nava on view—former David Zwirner staffer and now Amanita gallery director Lauryn-Ashley Vandyke showed me around on a recent afternoon.
In one corner Ben Werther maintains his studio practice, and right behind him is a preserved bathroom from the CBGB days—torn Pavement posters, vintage graffiti tags on the mirror, and all. The main area is currently being labored over by Ricky Clifton, noted interior decorator to the kooky elite, who is transforming the room look like the amanita mushroom that the gallery is named after; forest-green ceilings and a gessoed red floor will complete the “Alice in Wonderland” effect upon completion.
“It’s gonna be a little whimsical, but we’re going to hold it down with some serious furniture,” VanDyke told me. That’ll be a pretty easy mission to accomplish, as Suckert is the proprietor of his great uncle’s famous home in Italy, Casa Malaparte, which you might have caught a glimpse of in Jean-Luc Godard‘s French new wave classic Le Mépris. (Suckert now creates reproduction of the bespoke minimalist furnishings that his uncle devised for the landmark house.) What’s more, artist and friend of the gallery Adrian Schachter is hard at work on a bespoke poker table for the basement space. “We’re furniture people, can you tell?” said VanDyke.
Looking to get some practice ahead of February and those regulation tables up at the Hollywood Roosevelt? Amanita’s league seems like a great place to work on your qualification. Though it wasn’t confirmed, I hear the buy-in isn’t too steep. If you can swing it, I’d suggest you stop by.
THE QC ON QUEER THOUGHTS
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There’s been a rumor bumping around downtown New York lately that’s made it’s way through the mill before. Have you heard that Queer Thoughts is closing? Because I certainly have, from a number of sources. The gallery, which has been open since 2012 under the helm of artists Sam Lipp and Miguel Bendaña, was an OG in the Tribeca scene when the duo moved there from Chicago in 2015, and over the past eight-ish years it has delivered some of the daring programming that made the neighborhood the hot destination it is today.
Only recently business was booming, and the duo told me last year that they’d be expanding into the space above theirs at 373 Broadway, writing, “We will continue presenting work that is truly je ne sais quoi.”
They did indeed deliver on that aura of mystery in two ways: via spellbinding programming dedicated to elevating queer artistic voices, and the fact that sometimes they’d, uh, just kind of shut down for a few weeks without much warning. To date they’ve always re-opened with aplomb, but this time when they shut down I heard it was different, so I decided to swing by the space myself. Upon arriving at the doorstep, I was buzzed in by some confused workers who were busy installing filing cabinets for some new, evidently non-gallery business—with Lipp or Bendaña nowhere in sight. “Yeah, they closed officially earlier this month,” a neighbor told me.
I know what you’re thinking, this is pretty deflating news! Especially during Pride Month! As I’ve mentioned before, I love an artist-run space, and Queer Thoughts is a seminal example of how scrappy artists can call their own shots in the commercial art space. Among the rising stars whose careers they’ve launched are some of my favorites: the imaginative tableaux-maker Chelsea Culprit, the referential and arresting sculptor Diamond Stingily, and the visceral Bri Williams among them.
The final show in the space, by Arthur Marie, closed on May 20th, and my sources have asserted that this was Queer Thoughts’s final act. In a stunning twist, though, Lipp responded to me over email just before publishing to suggest the gallery may be reborn again, writing, “We are taking a summer break but are not closing. We will have new projects opening in the fall.”
How’s that for je ne sais quoi?
Nikita Gale is now represented by Petzel alongside 56 Henry, starting with a solo show next Spring… The Manhattan Art Review is going to release a print issue of their irreverent, polarizing art critiques this summer… Lisa Cooley has left her role as New York director of Various Small Fires… Only people from team Sotheby’s were in attendance at Joe Nahmad’s wedding, and not a soul from Christie’s was invited (remember what I said about Montagues and Capulets?)… There’s a $50 bounty for whoever can narc on the graffiti artist that left this admittedly heinous tag on Half Gallery’s window…
*** Gavin Brown and Alex Katz dining together at a boulangerie in Paris ***Jeff Bezos got a private tour of the Richard Avedon show at Gagosian over the weekend *** Jeff Koons, Stacey Engman, Ed Ruscha, Alexandre Arnault, and LaToya Ruby Frazier were among the VIPs at MoMA’s annual garden party *** Wolfgang Tillmans, Pascal Spengemann, and Dara Allen were among those brave enough to head out in the deep smog this Wednesday for James Fuentes‘s afterparty at the Public Hotel for Juan Pablo Echeverri‘s new show at the gallery *** Josh Baer appears to have given an interview with Adam Lindemann wearing only his socks ***
⭐ ? ⭐ CASTING CALL! ⭐ ?️ ?
Last week, I asked you fine folks to cast me a movie based on when when Klaus Biesenbach professed his unrequited love for Marina Abramović at a dinner hosted by MoMA, and to imagine who would play the duo plus Agnes Gund in a Mike Nichols-esque romance movie.
The winner goes to Alexis Johnson, a partner at Paula Cooper Gallery, who wrote in that Daniel Day Lewis should come out of retirement to play one last role as Klaus, Cate Blanchett would reprise her spoof of Marina in “Documentary Now!”, and Aggie Gund would be played by Glenn Close. If that’s not perfect casting I don’t know what is. Ears up, Hollywood.
My mind is set to Basel for next week’s prompt, and I like to imagine a kind of Glengarry Glen Ross type of industry film about Noah Horowitz‘s first year at the helm. Let’s hear who would play Horowitz and Marc Spiegler for a movie about the office dynamics that led to the current regime over at Art Basel. Email your responses to [email protected].
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