PRINT September 2004


Choire Sicha

Choire Sicha is editorial director of Gawker Media and writes frequently for the New York Observer and the New York Times.

  1. ELIOT SHEPARD Since Nan Goldin, bless her, murdered the snapshot a while back, surely someone’s gotta resuscitate it—and Eliot Shepard is the best snapshot photographer you’ve never heard of. Until this year, when he was included in two group shows, his work could be found only on his website, Of the 1,500-plus photographs there, probably two-thirds of them are freakishly, outrageously good—diaristic, classic, and unclassifiable. There’s a good chance 2005 will be the year of the photo-blogger, as more of them make their way to gallery walls. Chief among the other great soon-to-be-discovereds: Mike Epstein of

    Eliot Shepard, Untitled (DSC_3433.jpg), 2004, color photograph, 15 x 10". Eliot Shepard, Untitled (DSC_3433.jpg), 2004, color photograph, 15 x 10".
  2. BECKY “BELLWETHER” SMITH This summer, the Williamsburg chick-that-could took a hot-shit space on Tenth Avenue that should bring some much-needed Brooklyn-style schwang to the Chelsea hood. Does the overhyped, overpriced, soon-to-crash bubble of boy galleries make you gag some days? Oh my God, me, too! Will Smith cast aside her hipster B-burg roots and overtake them all to become the next big-bucks David Zwirner? Let’s hope!

  3. MIDWEST HOTNESS X 3 Craig Doty is a sick little pervert with a freshly minted BFA and a two-person show at Chicago’s 1R Gallery under his belt. His 2002 series “Chiefed” includes pictures of passed-out jocks with obscenities like I [HEART] COCK CHUGGING scrawled on their faces. And poor eponymous Craig: He fell down the steps while sneaking out of his suburban house, shattering his beer bottle and probably his teeth, too. Very John Hughes meets John Waters meets John Lydon. Chicago documentarian Cecilia Cornejo’s I Wonder What You Will Remember of September is a cutting look back at the events of another September 11: Chile’s 1973 coup. Finally, Cranbrook Academy of Art, class of ’04 (and my former intern): Tom Costa is the trailer park’s answer to figurative/symbolist painters like Thomas Woodruff and Frank Moore. White boys in overalls pushing their vans out of the mud under a psychedelic sky: utterly snacky, super-drugged-out, carnie-action painting.

    Cecilia Cornejo, I Wonder What You Will Remember of September, 2004, still from a mini-DVD and Super-8 film, 26 minutes 31 seconds. Cecilia Cornejo, I Wonder What You Will Remember of September, 2004, still from a mini-DVD and Super-8 film, 26 minutes 31 seconds.
  4. DEBORAH GRANT I first saw Grant’s work when she was in residence at the Studio Museum in Harlem last year. Her fucked-up shaped panels are filled with cartoons, time lines, iconography, text, politics, rage, hilarity, and madness. Think Sue Williams with Jane Hammond’s OCD after a troubled adolescence of MAD magazines.

  5. TEAM SPIRIT When art dealers get together there’s always a Heathers vibe going on. Still, the New Art Dealers Alliance (NADA), which launched its art fair alongside last winter’s Art Basel Miami Beach, may be the contemporary-art world’s best hope for a dignified, DIY art-fair future. (Of course, people probably said the same about an adorable little fair in the Gramercy Park Hotel once upon a time, and look how that mess turned out!) At NADA Miami, collectors were stoked, and dealers (full disclosure: I was one of ’em, as a partner, with Nick Debs, in Debs & Co.) cooperated, introducing everyone around like it was a dorm-room kegger. Likewise, though with much higher stakes, the political action committee Downtown for Democracy (D4D) is revolutionizing the way we work together, rousing arts communities to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars toward one goal: regime change in the US. D4D is a nonstop fund-raising machine, so go to their damn benefits. Could it be any more futile to stay home making paintings if Bush & Co. get reelected?

    NADA Art Fair Miami, 2003. NADA Art Fair Miami, 2003.
  6. BETH RUDIN DEWOODY I once saw megacollector DeWoody walk into a totally bonkers show of hundreds of drawings and, in maybe two minutes, pick out what were arguably the three best works there. It was like watching a Benzedrine-enhanced race-car driver perfectly round the turns. Is she animatronic? And where does she put all these damn drawings? Call it collectorating, collectabulating, acquivating, whatever: DeWoody’s working in her very own art form.

  7. DAWN MCCARTHY Remember that awesome Amy Globus video shown last winter at Gorney Bravin + Lee, with two octopuses sucking their way through some weird see-through aquarium tubing while Emmylou Harris and Neil Young sang “Wrecking Ball”? That’s sort of what McCarthy, the voice behind Oakland-based Appalachian/folk/goth duo Faun Fables, feels like—spooky, psychedelic, sexy, overpowering: a little bit Polish chanteuse Ewa Demarczyk and a little bit Renaissance Faire.

    Faun Fables, Family Album (Drag City, 2004). Faun Fables, Family Album (Drag City, 2004).
  8. PAUL FORD The sexy-voiced NPR commentator also has a website full of his writings, In both media, he’s a dry comedian, an extroverted navel-gazer, and a nonabusive pleasure in this age of literary self-absorption.

  9. HILTON KRAMER/CHARLIE FINCH DEATH BATTLE We live in crappy times for art criticism. Remember when Peter Schjeldahl used to write about art by nondead people? Nowadays we’re left with bitter dinosaurs like the New York Observer’s Hilton Kramer. Maybe dreamy Art in America editor Betsy Baker could play Auntie Entity and lock Kramer in her own personal Thunderdome with’s resident crackpot Charlie Finch: Two men enter, one man leaves. The smart money is, as always, on Charlie “Mad Max” Finch.

  10. THE NEW CAMP Nineteen sixty-four was a long time ago, and Susan Sontag’s “Notes on ‘Camp’” is out of date. But there’s a new camp, and it’s kicky! A scant few examples: the faux-political, surface-serious art of Alexis Rockman and Damian Loeb; the arch criticism of Wayne Koestenbaum and Daniel Mendelsohn; the over-the-top films of Michael Tolkin; and the shock rock of Marilyn Manson. Then, in revival, there’s the Southwest architecture of Mary Colter, the genius, über-bitchy novels of Thomas Bernhard—and, ironically, Sontag herself.