Thursday, November 14, 2013


 Contrary to what you may have read in revisionist history, in the early 90's I worked the door at the recently closed bar Max. Fish and wrote a monthly column for trendy PAPER magazine. Typical of most who left the scene in those days- outta sight, outta mind. I've been gone so long, nobody remembers that I was even there. One of my last assignments at PAPER was to cover the spring fashion shows. Looking back, fashion was a rarefied, niche industry in those days. The big name designers of today like Isaac Mizrahi and Betsy Johnson held their shows in soho lofts and nightclubs, the scene not quite co-opted by Bryant Park pop culture. I counted myself "hip" enough to get in the door and rub elbows with Andre the Giant and Anna Vogue, not to mention Christy, Naomi and Veronica. Part of my job description at PAPER was "soothsayer". My prediction for pre-internet, late 20th century entertainment? Fashion....and all that comes with it. Gotta say, I was right.
    Now that fashion is old news, art seems to be taking its place in the newsfeed. Or rather art/money. The recent NY residency of Brit artist Banksy is a perfect example. This cat is able to work both the sides of the cultural fence. Unlike Samo who left street art to become a big player in the art world, as Jean Michel, Banksy plays with all of it. The work brings big bucks at auction, as well as providing an ongoing treasure hunt for the NY POST and those in the know. From Joe Blow, who was smart enough to truck off the sphinx, to the Hustler Club torch cutting their roll up gate, the talk is always- what is it worth?
   It's difficult to talk about any art without the annoyance of money. Warhol's "Silver Car Crash" just went at auction for $104 million, while a Bacon of Lucian Freud fetched $140 mil- both records for these dead artists. This is where art has always intersected pop culture. I may like Beuys (not Boys), but the world could give a shit. It's not about art really, but finance. Ruth K's recently authenticated, rather ugly Jackson Pollack could be worth $50 million. It took a CSI expect identifying a hair from Pollack's polar bear rug to clinch the deal. The cache of Nazi looted modernist masterpieces, found in a Munich apartment, could bring billions. There's no limit to the public's appetite for this kind of art news.
    This past weekend little brother Duke was in town to pick up a large collage I had traded him for some wood carving. Duke may be family, but he's also been a fan of my work for years. Like a few others, he appreciates the fact that I've kept working outside of any money making structure. He's built a nice little collection over years, from gifts and trades. So you can imagine my surprise and delight when he looked at a small drawing I had done recently and asked : "How much?" I was tongue tied. Did he actually want to buy something, or just jerk my chain? Turned out that Duke was serious. After some bargaining, we settled on a price. Call me a sell out, but damn it felt good. It won't make the newsfeed, but maybe it will prime the pump a little. As for me, I'm just adding zeros. Far as I'm concerned, it's all priceless.       


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