A gyrating snake of people, pressed together tightly, made their way through the grand opening of the Hole Saturday night. New York’s newest gallery, on SoHo’s Greene Street, is founded by former Jeffrey Deitch acolytes and gallery directors Kathy Grayson and Meghan Coleman. The “Not Quite Open for Business Show,” announced by email blast, was choked with people, with art and with nostalgia for Deitch (now director of LaMoCA) and his grand party scene.
Most years, “Chelsea in June” could be a crossword puzzle clue for “empty,” but this summer’s very different. From standing-room-only Thursday night at Leo Kesting on Washington to a new show at James Cohan gallery based on a macabre Edgar Allen Poe tale, galleries are drawing crowds. “Everybody’s back from Basel (the huge annual art fair in Switzerland) and they don’t want to go away again just yet,” explained Lehmann Maupin’s Bethanie Brady, at their busy opening. Free beer, wine and air-conditioning don’t hurt: As the mercury hit 85 Thursday, film lovers flocked to watch videos in the cool-as-silk screening room at James Cohen Gallery (Jesper Just’s A Vicious Undertow, a creepy, moody, silent black-and-white film also viewable on YouTube was a particular highlight).
There was the usual mix of gallery-goers: students in it for the free beer, lanky girls in sundresses, black-wearing pseudo-intellectuals nosing, without seeming to, for Hamptons invites by working Bridgehampton inorganically into the conversation.
But was anything selling? One gallery employee rolled his eyes at the question. But at Paula Cooper’s, where the snacks of choice were rose wine and goldfish crackers, one of Christian Marclay’s ripped photos from his “Fourth of July” series sold right after opening. The patriotic photographs, of a parade in Hyde Park, N.Y., are ripped at the edges and the show was accompanied by a music score recorded at MoMA.
Almost as busy as the Hole was Chelsea’s Luhring Augustine, which rolled out a wall-eating show of the works of Ragnar Kjartansson and Cohan’s good group show, “The Tell-Tale Heart, Part 2.” Featuring works by artists such as Tracey Emin and James Ensor on the theme of Poe’s dark tale, it was teeming with people actually talking about what was on the walls. Of course, the macabre as a subject matter never hurts: The show includes an erotic Dash Snow work, among other vaguely transgressive highlights.