News from New York: Turf wars in Tribeca

Artists, actresses and property developers compete for the best properties in the area


“I love art, but I want the artists out”

The New York art world may adore property developer Aby Rosen for his collecting and his glamorous parties hosted at his flagship HQ Lever House for the likes of Damien Hirst, but his taste for “confrontational” art is being tested by confrontation with real, live artists. In February this year, Mr Rosen bought a Tribeca building at 67 Vestry Street on the corner by the Hudson River, which is not only a local bohemian landmark but is still inhabited by quintessential Manhattan creative types. None of them were keen on Rosen’s (left) attempts to throw them out. After all, the building was once the home and studio of sculptor John Chamberlain, whose sixth floor was turned into a museum of his work by the Dia Art Foundation. Here Wim Wenders shot The American friend, indeed the building stars in several sequences of the film. When Chamberlain left, the director-artist-collector Robert Wilson moved in, filling his amazing abode with art and furniture. The building first became an artists’ haven when Pop legend Marisol settled on the ninth floor, now occupied by Stuart Parr, the New York gallery owner, and his wife Mary, the third director of Cheim & Read Gallery. Likewise photo dealer Olivier Renaud-Clement lived here with gallerist Lucien Terras who is still in residence. Other long-term residents include painter Paul Pagk, landscape artist Marjorie Portnow, conceptualist Orshi Drozdik, who first moved in with writer Patrick McGrath and sculptor-designer Roland Gebhardt. But despite his love of art Rosen wants them all out. And this from a man recently quoted as saying “Life is not about only making money. It’s about melting art and commerce all together.”

Meryl Streep beats Richard Tuttle to river loft

Right slap next door to 67 Vestry is a long-abandoned warehouse now finally rebuilt by architectural team Calvin Tsao and Zack McKown into a condominium complex and marketed as “River Lofts”. And who should be moving into the $8.95 million penthouse of the building at 92 Laight Street but actress Meryl Streep. She had stiff competition from the likes of the supposedly fellow thespian Jennifer Lopez and even artist Richard Tuttle. Tuttle lives just one block away on Greenwich Street in a building called Founders Albatross Inc and is a Tribeca fixture. He does all his prints across the block at Gregory Burnet and jogs around in tiny shorts of a texture surprising to one famed for his rare textile collection. For many years his gallery Sperone Westwater was also home to sculptor Don Gummer, Ms Streep’s husband, and indeed they have been in group shows together. And despite the ephemeral whimsy of Tuttle’s art, nobody should doubt his financial savvy. After all the deluxe catalogue for his big current show (opening at the Whitney this month) apparently cost a cool $1 million to produce. And the invitation alone to his “Art into life” gala after-party is so chic and hefty it cannot have come cheap.

Near miss at Callery Gallery

Meanwhile, SoHo gallerist Patrick Callery is battling to save his pioneering space at 66 Greene Street. The entire ceiling recently collapsed, very nearly killing Mr Callery and destroying work by Jim Hyde and plastic flowers by Tony Feher, valued at $17,000. Yet now rather than accept blame the landlord is trying to evict Mr Callery instead. At this loft—originally donated by Rauschenberg to a boyfriend—the dealer staged numerous seminal exhibitions including the first New York shows of everyone from Uta Barth to Karin Davie and Polly Apfelbaum. The always funky Callery Gallery never had a buzzer and even distinguished visitors, such as collector Peter Norton, had to wait while Mr Callery raced up and down his rickety stairs.

James Nares left dangling in the name of art  

James Nares opens a new show this month at Paul Kasmin, revealing his photographs for the first time, including some that at last make clear the physically daunting system used to create his trademark brushstroke swirls. Looking just like Tom Cruise in Mission impossible, Nares is strapped into a sexy harness (above) and negotiates the surface from above, rather as Lichtenstein had his easels tilted so surplus paint would fall to the floor. Nares’ system not only reminds one of Matthew Barney’s Drawing restraint 9 bondage-ensemble but also Carolee Schneeman’s system of painting while naked in her own harness, recently on show at Jack Tilton. Like Schneeman, maybe the famously handsome Nares should also strip off before he straps-up?

Achtung baby! Flotsam’s faux pas

Flotsam has been reprimanded following revelations of Dia’s attempt to bring the Beuys Bloc from Darmstadt to Beacon. According to a stern letter from Ze Hessisches Landesmuseum “The mentioned negotiations were very unofficial, confidential and with consideration of many unsolved aspects”. These “unsolved aspects” may include the hatred of Beuys’s widow Eva for all things American, which stems from a catalogue of a Houston show that so incurred her outrage that she declared Beuys should never be shown in the US again. By contrast, our suggestion that the other great Darmstadt masterpiece, its famous Madonna (right), could also be lent to America has come true. This month the painting by Hans the Younger goes to the Portland Art Museum, Oregon, as centrepiece of the exhibition, “Hesse: a princely German collection” (until 19 March 2006).

The amazing Dr Straus’s poetry reading

Not content with being one of New York’s major contemporary art collectors, Dr Marc Straus decided he might as well become a widely published poet as well. With poems appearing in the literary journal Kenyon Review, Dr Straus still practices medicine while going on art shopping sprees throughout Manhattan. And on the fourth of this month he is giving a rare reading at the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art, the ex-supermarket that Dr Straus converted to hold thematic shows, often drawn from his own expansive collection.

Getting in too deep in Peekskill

Dr Straus is also key to the Peekskill Project, a “citywide contemporary art extravaganza” but one which has left Viennese artist-sociologist Heinz Cars rather sore. Cars was lured to Peekskill by a curator at the Venice Biennale, not realising that it is far from Manhattan. But once there he was excited to find that the town was the location of T.C Boyle’s award-winning novel World’s end. Cars managed to track down the building in Boyle was born, photographing it for his show (above). Most of Cars’ research was into the subject of the novel, the Peekskill riots of 1949, in which a visit by Paul Robeson sparked racial violence. Cars photographed the site of the incident and suggested re-naming a pier in honour of Robeson, before discovering the topic was taboo. Not only was the venue for display changed from a shop on main street to the upstairs corridor, but Cars was told that making art about this riot would be like doing a show on Hitler in Vienna!