The X-Initiative space at 548 West 22nd Street comes to a rousing close on Feb. 3, 2010, with a special, 24-hour-long "Bring Your Own Art" event. But that isn’t the end of the former Dia Art Center building as an art destination. A new collaborative kind of art fair -- called simply Independent, Mar. 4-7, 2010 -- is about to debut there, at the same time as the Armory Show, Mar. 4-7, 2010, and the Art Dealers Association of America Art Show, Mar. 3-7, 2010.

Independent promises to bring over 35 galleries, nonprofits, publishers and other participants to the four-story facility, including Maureen Paley from London, Artists Space, Rodeo from Istanbul and October magazine. The "temporary exhibition forum" is the brainchild of New York dealer Elizabeth Dee, founder of X-Initiative, and Darren Flook, who operates the Hotel gallery in London; the "collective consortium" has also enlisted as advisors Thea Westreich Art Advisory Services and Matthew Higgs, director of White Columns. The event is free and open to the public.

Dee promises "an alternative conversation" in a flexible and dynamic space that fosters collaboration and creativity. The consortium is structured as a transparent financial coop, which allows for "both financial efficiency and the creation of more ambitious projects." The idea, Dee says, is to "Keep things moving and evolving." One special project, by the collaborative group Claire Fontaine, is a neon work above the door reading Please God Make Tomorrow Better.

Meanwhile, the upstart Verge art fair -- devoted exclusively to "emerging art" -- debuts in New York, Mar. 4-7, 2010, at the Dylan Hotel, located in the former 1903 Beaux-Arts Chemists Club at 52 East 41st Street. Applications for participation in the fair are being accepted through Feb. 1, 2010; room rentals start at $3,200. For further details, see www.vergeartfair.com. Artistic director of the fair is Edouard Steinhauer; general admission is $10.

March 2010 Art Fairs

Those five wild and crazy (anonymous) guys who are the Bruce High Quality Foundation are on fire, what with their recent "intervention" in the "1969" exhibition at P.S.1 and their free-wheeling "university" at Recess at 41 Grand Street and at 225 West Broadway in Tribeca. Now, Bruce is kicking things up a notch with the Brucennial2010, Feb. 25-Apr. 4, 2010, a parody version of the Whitney Biennial -- or maybe it’s more serious than it lets on -- being presented in a 5,000-square-foot space at 350 West Broadway in SoHo donated by the real-estate mogul and megacollector Aby Rosen.

Titled "Miseducation," the Brucennial supposedly "brings together 420 artists from 911 countries working in 666 discrete disciplines." In a press release, the globetrotting curator Francesco Bonami is quoted at nonsensical length, presumably a pastiche as well, though the announced participation of the young curator Vito Schnabel seems to be on the level. An email asks prospective participants to "either dredge something up or create something new. . . . As fast and loose as you like." The event also promises performances on Feb. 25, 2010, and a literary supplement launching the same day at www.brucennial.com.

Alexander Gray Gallery unveils its new gallery space on the second floor of 508 West 26th Street with "What’s Left: Artworks Made by a Public," Feb. 19-Mar. 13, 2010. The show presents four works -- by Alison Knowles, Lorraine O’Grady, Karen Finley and Paul Ramirez Jonas -- that are activated by public engagement; Knowles’ seminal Fluxus piece from 1962, #2 Proposition (Make a Salad), is being enacted during the exhibition opening from 6-8 pm on Feb. 19. Gray’s neighbors in the 508 building include Nicole Klagsbrun, Andrea Meislin, BravinLee Programs and Marvelli Gallery.

Red Flag Magazine, the webzine launched by Nicole Davis -- a former editor at Artnet Magazine and a frequent contributor to Artnet TV -- has posted its second issue, which takes up the theme of "Children." Red Flag is not an "art" project; rather, it is a nonprofit that seeks to establish an online community to address issues that need immediate attention and action; i.e., "When something is wrong a red flag should go up." The current issue has reports on vaccination, children’s leukemia, child labor in the Philippines, childbirth, the recuperation of Ugandan child soldiers, and more. The current issue features on its cover a lively photo by Mark Cohen; the first issue, on the theme of "water," had a cover illustration by Raymond Pettibon.

ART SHOW AS THINK TANKAre you ready for "#class"? That is the Twitter-inspired title of the experimental art show organized by artists Jennifer Dalton and William Powhida for the Winkleman Gallery at 621 West 27th Street in New York’s Chelsea art district, on view Feb. 21-Mar. 20, 2010. Designed to turn the gallery space into a free-wheeling "think tank" delving into questions of art and the art market, "#class" features three separate areas: a "think space" for discussion and presentation, with a rather extensive schedule of offerings from a range of artists; a "work space" in which Dalton and Powhida plan to make works on paper, inspired by the "think tank" discussions, and negotiate their sale to interested buyers; and a smaller "market space" (described as "physically marginalized") where art is displayed and marketed.

The endeavor grew out of the controversy around the New Museum’s soon-to-open show dedicated to the Dakis Joannou collection, which touched off some soul-searching about issues of contemporary art’s relation to money and power, a spirit that "#class" has channeled via an open call for any and all meditations on "the way art is made and seen in our culture" and "alternatives and/or reforms to the current market system."

A preliminary schedule of what to expect is up at the "#class" blog, and it promises to be a fascinating ride, with contributions ranging from the ridiculous to the sublime. Look for, among other things: the artist El Celso performing an "Art Shred" (presumably a variation on his "Art Burn" performance he staged at Art Basel Miami Beach); the magazine Hyperallergic’s "$ecrets of the New York Art World," inviting visitors to reveal who owes them money; Mira Schor delivering her lecture "On Failure and Anonymity"; Lisa Levy’s performance "Investigating Personal Obstacles to Creativity"; WNYC art critic and CMonstah blogger Carolina Miranda leading visitors in a little "Art Yoga" ("incorporating newly invented poses to aid artists in the contortions necessary to advance their practice and career"); a Q & A with savvy Postmasters dealer Magda Sawon; new media duo Jennifer & Kevin McCoy offering a "Collector Focus Group"; and roundtables with such suggestive titles as "The Art World as High School," "The System Works" and "The System Doesn’t Work." Also, join William Powhida for a tour of Chelsea.

All in all, Powhida and Dalton are definitely on to something here, having plugged into a real hunger for serious discussion about art and its economic circumstances -- albeit one that seemingly often takes the form of jokes. The whole thing concludes on Mar. 20 with a "Rant Night," "where everyone is encouraged to come and let it rip on whatever's still bothering you." As Dalton said in a recent blog post, "#class is already making me do, and think about, a lot of things I usually try to avoid." Should be cathartic. See you there.

Meanwhile, the New Museum is fearlessly forging ahead with its controversial Jeff Koons-curated exhibition of art owned by Greek supercollector Dakis Joannou. The provocatively titled "Skin Fruit," Mar. 3-June 6, 2010 -- Koons said the moniker "alludes to notions of genesis, evolution, original sin, and sexuality" -- is notably contemporary, providing good competition for the 2010 Whitney Biennial uptown (which runs Feb. 25-May 30, 2010), though the Joannou show is much more a reflection of art-market success, of course. Approximately 50 heavy-hitting artists are included, ranging from Pawel Althamer, David Altmejd, Janine Antoni and assume vivid astro focus to Gillian Wearing, Andro Wekua, Franz West and Christopher Wool. The exhibition includes a single work by Koons, the classic One Ball Total Equilibrium Tank (1985).

Whatever further fuss that might erupt around "Skin Fruit," the New Museum is undeterred. The show is the first in a series of occasional showcases of "leading private collections of contemporary art from around the world."

Meanwhile, the New Museum has also announced its schedule from now through 2011. On tap are a midcareer survey of Brazilian artist Rivane Neuenschwander (b. 1967), June 23-Sept. 19, 2010; a retrospective of Beatnik Dreamachine pioneer Brion Gysin (1916-86), July 7-Oct. 3, 2010; a survey of work by Neo-Expressionist painter George Condo, January-May 2011; and a retrospective of sculptor Lynda Benglis, Feb. 9-June 5, 2011.

The schedule also includes a show titled "Free," October 2010-January 2011, which is billed as a survey, via works by 15 emerging artists, of "the radical new ways that culture is invented and distributed," and "The Generational," Spring 2012, which is organized by New Museum curator Eungie Joo.

Looks like Mera and Don Rubell are set to open a new, 20,000-square-foot private museum, this one in Washington D.C. The art power-couple’s CACG Holdings partnered with development firm Telesis to snag a vacant building in Southwest Washington for $6.5 million, according to the Washington Post. The new development, which sits across the street from the Rubell-owned Capitol Skyline Hotel, will include a hotel and residencies, in addition to the museum.

The site was formerly owned by the Corcoran Gallery of Art, which had plans to move its College of Art and Design to the location. According to the Corcoran’s chief operating officer Fred Bollerer, the sale became necessary when a deal with a developer fell through. The location had been purchased by the Corcoran in 2006 for $6.2 million. The search for a suitable location for its art school continues.

by Charlie Finch
With a perfect storm of foundation money, loving press attention and student volunteers, the Bruce High Quality Foundation's Brucennial is poised to eclipse this year's Whitney Biennial as the event of the spring art season. One major reason for this upheaval is the BHQF's contribution to the Whitfest itself: the Art Rescue Vehicle, a souped-up ambulance full of trompe l'oeil art supplies which advance word suggests might be the best piece at the Whitney.

The second reason is the emergence of a new It Girl among the Bruce instructors, MoMA employee and UC Berkeley alumna Haley Mellin, described by one of her students as having "the poise and stamina of an Olympic swimmer." Reason number three is the avuncular presence of longtime Cooper Union sculpture studio czar David Karlin, mentor to the late dealer/innovator Colin DeLand and the revered Cooper Union collective Art Club 2000, one of whose founders, artist Danny McDonald, is also a star of the 2010 Whitney Biennial. Indeed, when another Art Club 2000 veteran, CUNY professor Patterson Beckwith, recently dropped in at BHQF headquarters, he was mobbed like a rock star.

One of the Brucies confided last week to his students that "we are taking the Bruce on the road," meaning that the BHQF has been invited this spring to lecture and conduct seminars at Yale and the Rhode Island School of Design. Cooper Union is so proud of its Bruce connection that it has directed the entire Cooper freshman class to visit the Bruce next week, and Creative Time czarina Anne Pasternak, a major BHQF backer, has been so inspired by the Bruce's tutorial example that she excitedly told BHQF apparatchiks at its Recess space last week that she is returning to school to get a PhD in government relations.

Nevertheless, with the Brucennial ready to debut at a mammoth 350 Broadway ground floor space (formerly a discount fashion outlet) two days after the opening of the Whitney Biennial, which it has effectively seized control of, success and buzz may be the BHQF's biggest headache. Already, one of the Bruce's leading lights, Mark Beasley, has departed, reportedly under group pressure. Will BHQF splinter like a Roman candle, the way its predecessor Art Club 2000 also diffused? In the ego-driven world of art, where attention must be paid to every "star," the answer is probably "Yes."

CHARLIE FINCH is co-author of Most Art Sucks: Five Years of Coagula (Smart Art Press).