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Out and About: Chelsea Edition

Anton Kannemeyer has a way of drawing you in with his biting satire on race, then slapping you with some very unsettling commentary on post-colonial Africa. Kannemeyer, a co-editor of the South African satirical magazine Bitterkomix is having his second solo exhibit at Jack Shainman and is as unsparing as ever in his critique of colonization and its aftermath, by none other than the civilized world. Oh, the wake we leave.

As I viewed Joan Mitchell: The Last Paintings at Cheim & Read, I immediately thought of Monet's waterlilies, his last works. I've noticed this with several late-career artists, the pond or canvas becomes the ground as the paint takes on celestial dimensions.

To confirm that there is still money out there, Sotheby's this week sold a 60s-era Mitchell for a record $9.3 million. At the auction house that evening the pricey artworks were handled by temporary workers as the art handlers union continued to walk the picket line outside.

Another high-end show at Luhring Augustine is Richard Pousette-Dart's paintings and wire sculptures produced at his then-East River studio. The wire pieces stole the show for me. I've never had the opportunity to see them before, and they are very painterly and spontaneous -- very nice. Tennis star-turned-artist John McEnroe was in the gallery that day, too. I later saw Jessica Alba in Soho -- be still, my heart.

Walton Ford wowed me again with his latest large-scale watercolors of natural history and hilarious unnatural acts at Paul Kasmin. But not to be outdone, the fine ladies at Schroeder Romero have an equally off-beat retelling of history with Charles Browning's Beauty Trap paintings. Watteau, Gauguin, Renoir, Cole -- Browning borrows a little from many -- he's a very good painter, and sooo wrong!

From the "Things I want to see soon" category, the Maurizio Cattelan hanging at the Guggenheim, the brand new Clyfford Still Museum opening this month in Denver, and the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. The latter may take a while to negotiate getting there. Crystal Bridges has taken some hits already, but don't underestimate the potential of great wealth. The Waltons could match the Getty dollar for dollar, so it will be interesting to see the direction that they choose.

Lastly, the value of Chelsea real estate continues to rise. West coast and Euro galleries are setting up outposts. This is not all bad, of course, but it makes it difficult for galleries with a smaller operating budget. The latest move is by Lohin Geduld, hopefully to another Chelsea location: "after eight wonderful years, we regret to announce the closing of Lohin Geduld Gallery's 25th Street location."

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