New York

Colab, “A More Store”

Jack Tilton Gallery

Prices so low they cannot be advertised—remember that one? I always get nervous in discount houses and stereo and TV stores where the goods aren’t priced, or aren’t priced so that the customer can read them. They are coded. This makes me suspicious. Do they have one price for a guy in a suit and one price for a guy in overalls? I like the price right there where I can see it.

You never see prices in galleries, except in the ones that advertise “thousands of signed original oil paintings—new shipments arrive daily,” or in restaurants with paintings on the walls. It’s as if art is something they can’t really put a price on. They can’t but they have to so they hesitate. You have to ask for it.

Why? Is it intimidation? If you ask the price are they going to do a Dun & Bradstreet on you or what? Is the price held back so as not to distract from the esthetic experience? Or maybe sometimes to prevent people from hooting and laughing out loud in quiet white-walled

Give me paintings that dare to wear a price tag. That’s what I liked about Colab’s “A More Store,” here during the Christmas shopping season. Good art at good visible prices. This wasn’t a first. The same group had the same kind of show/sale last year at the Barbara Gladstone Gallery, and Fashion Moda had a similar store at the last Documenta.

This was like an art world 5 & 10—dollars, not cents, with lots of things in that range and not much over $100. There were paintings, sculptures (some that could double as paperweights), toys, and various art craft objects. There were unique objects, multiples, and variable multiples. Some things were quite useful (and beautiful), like Judy Rifka’s throw pillows and shopping bags. Some things were witty references to utility, like Christof Kohlhofer’s Indian blanket (an Indian painted on a blanket) or his bag ladies (ladies painted on bags).

For four dollars you could buy a toy U.S. Marine head in a plastic bag; the tag bore a portrait of the Ayatollah and a claim that there was a special place in heaven reserved for anyone who owned one. I was offended and it’s not easy to be offended by something so cheap. I dare the maker of these to vend them on the street. I don’t know if these are post-Modern times but I do believe they are postironic.

I did fall for the Scabbage Trap dolls, though. They are even uglier than the real thing and seemed to be in no danger of selling out. A sort of a cross between a Cabbage Patch doll and the infant in Eraserhead—a sort of basket case baby—they were personalized too. Theone I picked up was called “Baby Joe Doe.” I put him back down.

Colab’s store idea is a great one—too bad it just happens once a year. I’d like to see a permanent art dime store. In the summer they could sell original beach blankets and famous-artist bikinis. How about a department in Bloomingdale’s or Bendel’s?

Glenn O’Brien