Welcome to Wet Paint in the Wild, an extension of Annie Armstrong’s gossip column wherein she gives art-world insiders a disposable camera so they can give us a peek into their corner of the madcap industry.
Adam Cohen is the indefatigable Gagosian director and proprietor of the previously itinerant gallery A Hug From the Art World, which these days has found a permanent home in Timothy Taylor’s old spot in Chelsea.
Since I came into the art world, Cohen has been one of my favorite people to run into at openings, always ready with his dry wit and an interesting anecdote about whatever art is on view. Over a packed Armory show week of art openings and events, he took up the Wet Paint camera. Take it away, Adam!
Room with a view. I open the blinds, and the week begins. The first thing I get to look at in the morning from my apartment is my A Hug From the Art World space. The neon sign radiates even brighter on a dreary or rainy day like today. Hugs shine through—positivity is the air.
Artist Jamel Robinson in my favorite restaurant in Chelsea, Juban. This is my go-to spot with collectors and artists alike. The food is out of this world and consistently so. Jamel’s “Scream” paintings show was the inaugural exhibition at my Hug From the Art World space on 515 West 19th St in January. I was happy to see Jamel just before he heads off to Massachusetts to begin the Long Meadow Residency, an initiative started by David and Jennifer Feldman.
Later in the day (Tuesday), the day before his opening at Gagosian’s 21st street location, I am standing with the main man, Dan Colen, in front of his painting Mother (Jail) (2021-2022). This work, along with all the others in the show, belong to the final group of his Disney-inspired canvases, which he initiated with the “Candle” series in 2003. Also included in the exhibition are two sculptures by Sy Colen, Dan’s father. The exhibition borrows its title from a song written by Leonard Cohen on a visit to his ancestral homeland of Israel during the Yom Kippur War, “Lover, Lover, Lover.” It’s on view through October 22nd at Gagosian’s 522 West 21st Street location.
Dan’s opening on Wednesday night, which saw a massive turn-out. It was great to see swarms of fans, family, and friends hanging outside the gallery, all looking healthy and hydrated. Odeon is the perfect spot to celebrate such an NYC Art World classic—it opened the same year I was born 😂😂
I captured the moment when Dan spoke to share his gratitude to all those involved in shaping his artist practice in the studio and at Sky High Farm over the last 10 years. Dan is beyond gracious and an extremely smart and talented gentleman.
Thursday night brought about another opening and dinner. This time it was Rick Lowe’s turn. Here he is standing in front of one his paintings from his solo exhibition, “Meditations on Social Sculpture,” at Gagosian’s 541 West 24th street space. Here, he’s with two of his brothers who travelled up from Alabama for the occasion. Carl Lowe (left) Rick Lowe (center) and Ed Lowe (right).
I had to pop my head in to my friend Hank Willis Thomas’s exhibition across the street. In order to view tthis new body of work, one must take a photograph using a flash in order to activate an image underneath the surface of the painting which is not immediately visible. Fortunately, I came perfectly prepared with this camera.
Back down the stairs I went and ran into these two bad boys outside of Gagosian. Gagosian’s very own Theaster Gates ambassador Tom Lee, and the brilliantly stylish artist, and my friend, Cameron Welsh wearing Vintage Armani.
Talking of stylish, another young person caught my eye—also called Cameron by coincidence. Wearing some funky Comme des Garçons pants (from a few seasons back, making me jealous, as I can no longer get a pair myself), Nike Comme des Garçons shoes, and a top made by Cameron himself. A look I would be proud to plagiarize. It’s fashion week as well as Armory week after all.
Now into Friday—again at Gagosian, this time at 555 West 24th street. I capture the masterful Urs Fischer in front of his incredible work CHAOS #501, (2022).
One of my favorite people in the world JOE SHEFTEL (for those of you who don’t know, you should) Joe gave Alex Da Corte his first gallery solo show. He is always ahead of the game and for this I admire and listen and look at what ever he tells me. He sneaked into our Urs Fischer walkthrough and I caught him in front of Urs’s Denominator, (2020-22).
Next, a boat ride to Far Rockaway. Destination: The Rockaway Hotel. The occasion: The First Artist Alliance supporting my friend Michi Jigarjian’s Baxter St organization as well as NXTHVN and the Last Resort Artist Retreat. Here she is, sparkling in the center and flanked from left to right Marc Ronson (who later DJ’d for the evening), Titus Kaphar, Derek Adams, and Baxter Street’s very own Jil Weinstock.
Tequila and Tunes: (front) artist Sheree Hovsepian feeling the Ronson beats and (propping up the rear) the gorgeous, I-am-proud-to-call-Mrs.-Cohen aka Michelle Hellman.
Back on the boat—next stop South SeaPort Ferry Terminal and a short walk to Sky Pittman’s SN37 gallery opening Pictured: Sky holding up the stairs.
Final stop before dinner: David Lewis Gallery. David, standing front and center in his Tribeca gallery, 57 Walker, at the opening of Kyle Thurman. David also has an East Hampton location where Anton Kern and I will curate “Syphilis Too,” opening Memorial Day Weekend 2023. Something to look forward to—and yes this is this follow-up to “Syphilis” which Anton and I co curated at Joel Mesler’s Rental gallery in 2019. We’re bringing Syphilis back to the Hamptons.
Swiss Beats: Loic Gouzer and Urs Fischer at Urs’s party
No party is complete without the brilliant living legend that is Peter Marino, seen here with the lovely Izzy Lauder-Frost (@thingsizzyloves), one of the best art Instagrams out there—LEGIT.
Gagosian artist Kon Trubkovich and music producer Josh Abraham, holding court outside at the party celebrating Urs Fischer’s exhibition.
Finally, a night off from the crazy Armory week events. I go back to where I started the week: Juban (where else). Here is the famous Cocktail King, Mikio Inoue, in all his glory, wearing his A Hug From the Art World hat. He’s here with the brains behind Juban, (its owner) Ashwin Balani. I can’t confirm or deny that Ashwin has had a few cocktails in this picture.
The following Thursday, September 15th, I opened a Howie Michels exhibition titled “Epic” at A Hug From the Art World. The title fits. Here, Howie is seen looking at his wife, mega-author Francine Prose, with his amazing Venus painting in the middle. (The Origin of the World springs to mind).
Howie’s work is part Hieronymus Bosch, part Max Beckmann. Seeing is believing, which is what this crowd came for. The opening was packed. Here’s Howie front and centre in conversation holding a beer.
This is a view from upstairs at HUGS, looking down on the crowd. There’s Howie and Francine’s son (wearing blue) Leon Michels—aka El Michels Affair, founder Big Crown Records—on the decks.
Another view of the party, this time catching Leon Michels (still wearing blue, all the way to the left, mustache and all) mid-mouthful. Amazing tacos and tequilas organized by the new Alma Negra restaurant in Brooklyn (check it out).
My new favorite artist Eli Ping, gleefully smiling whilst sitting at my front desk at the gallery. I love you Eli.
I could not be prouder to call Sheree Hovsepian my friend. On the back of her inclusion in the Venice Biennale she followed up with a most beautiful exhibition at Rachel Uffner gallery (now open—go and see it). Here she is photographed with Massimiliano Gioni and Venice Biennale curator Cecilia Alemani.
Curators were out in force for Sheree’s opening. Scott Rothkopf of the Whitney was the first person I saw when entering the exhibition.
More curators: Jane Hait (founder of CARA) and none other than the Guggenheim’s Katherine Brinson (little known fact: Kathrine and I have known each other since before our New York art world days. We go way back to when we were at Goldsmith College and Oxford University, respectively.)
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Lastly, the cheeky Rashid Johnson. I captured him just after he thought he got away with rearranging the seating plan. CAUGHT ANXIOUS RED handed.