NY Times : May 30, 2004
The Funk Art Groove
By MONICA CORCORAN
GALLERY openings typically attract two types of people: those who appreciate art and those who will brave a tsunami for a few free tumblers of chardonnay. At the twice-monthly art party known as Create:Fixate, however, there are no complimentary beverages or wheels of sweaty cheddar to entice freeloaders. A week ago Saturday, at 10 p.m., a crowd extended down the marble staircase of a scruffy yet elegant Art Deco building downtown.
“I would rather support a cool artistic scene like this than spend 20 bucks to get into some stupid club in Hollywood,” said Neil Kohan, 26, a talent agent.
Inside the loft space, young visitors milled about in front of the paintings, collages and sculptures for sale. Prices ranged from $65 for whimsical digital print caricatures of Che Guevara or Martha Stewart by one artist, Doug Murphy, to a Calderlike, modernist wall sculpture by another, Craig Ekedahl, that sold for $1,220.
“Usually, openings run from 6 to 9 and then, that’s it,” said Mr. Murphy, who is 31. “Here, you can talk to other artists, listen to music and hang out.”
The vibe alters every few hours at Create:Fixate, shifting like a hologram with the moods and priorities of the guests. After 9, it gets thicker and noisier with patrons who fortify themselves with culture and a couple of cocktails before moving on to another party.
Come midnight, the scene undergoes its most radical mutation. The club kids arrive, the lights dim and the “audio labs” where D.J.’s spin alternative music get clogged. On this night, a stunning young woman with ponytails was dancing, while men standing nearby debated who had the nerve to ask for her number. In a corner, John Acres, 66, was sketching primitive portraits of passers-by. “I learned how to draw in jail. I guess I am self-taught,” said Mr. Acres.
Liza Richardson, a D.J. who took over at 1 a.m., said, “I love the diversity. There’s young, old, gay, straight, and all colors.”
With two bars here serving until 2 a.m., one has to wonder if there is such a thing as alcohol-fueled art buyer’s remorse? “I don’t think anyone has ever called and said, `Can I get my money back? I don’t remember buying this art,’ ” said Julie Rasmussen, 32, a painter who was exhibiting her abstracts. “The crowd is here because they really like art, and that’s pretty great.”