Wet Paint in the Wild: Gagosian Director Adam Cohen Armorys Hard With Dan Colen and Rashid Johnson

Welcome to Wet Paint in the Wild, an extension of Annie Armstrong’s gossip column, in which she gives art world insiders a disposable camera so they can let us peek inside her corner of the crazy industry.

Adam Cohen is the tireless Gagosian director and owner of the previously itinerant gallery A Hug From The Art World, which has now found a permanent home in Timothy Taylor’s old home in Chelsea.

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Since entering the art world, Cohen has been one of my favorite people to meet at openings, always ready with his dry wit and an interesting anecdote about the art on display. He grabbed the wet paint camera during a packed Armory Show week of art openings and events. Take it away Adam!

Room with a view, I open the blinds and the week begins.  The first thing I can look at from my apartment in the morning is my A Hug From The Art World Space.  On a dreary or rainy day like today, the neon sign shines even brighter.  Hugs shine through - positivity is in the air.

Room with view. I open the blinds and the week begins. The first thing I can look at from my apartment in the morning is my A Hug From The Art World Space. On a dreary or rainy day like today, the neon sign shines even brighter. Hugs shine through – positivity is in the air.

Jamel Robinson

Artist Jamel Robinson at my favorite Chelsea restaurant, Juban. This is my go-to for collectors and artists alike. The food is out of this world and consistently so. Jamel’s Scream painting show was the opening show at my Hug From The Art World space at 515 West 19th St in January. I was glad to see Jamel just before he left for Massachusetts to start the Long Meadow Residency, an initiative started by David and Jennifer Feldman.

Dan Colen and Adam Cohen

Later in the day (Tuesday), the day before it opens on Gagosian’s 21st Street, I stand in front of his painting with the lead actor, Dan Colen mother (prison) (2021-2022). This work, along with all the others in the exhibition, is part of the final group of his Disney-inspired canvases, which he initiated in 2003 with the “Candle” series. Also included in the exhibition are two sculptures of Sy Colen, Dan’s father. The exhibition borrows its title from a song Leonard Cohen wrote during a visit to his ancestral homeland of Israel during the Yom Kippur War: “Lover, Lover, Lover”. It can be seen in Gagosian at 522 West 21st Street until October 22nd.

the Odeon

Dan’s opening on Wednesday night, which saw a huge turnout. It was great to see crowds of fans, family and friends hanging out in front of the gallery, all looking healthy and hydrated. The Odeon is the perfect place to celebrate such a NYC Art World classic – it opened the same year I was born 😂😂

Dan Colen offers a toast

I captured the moment Dan spoke to express his gratitude to all those who have been involved in shaping his artistic practice at the studio and at Sky High Farm over the past 10 years. Dan is beyond kind and an extremely smart and talented gentleman.

Carl Lowe (left) Rick Lowe (center) and Ed Lowe (right).

Thursday night brought another opening and dinner. This time it was Rick Lowe’s turn. Here he stands in front of one of his paintings from his solo exhibition, Meditations on Social Sculpture, at Gagosian’s 541 West 24th Street Space. Here he is with two of his brothers who have traveled from Alabama for the occasion. Carl Lowe (left) Rick Lowe (center) and Ed Lowe (right).

Hank Willis Thomas

I had to poke my head in my friend Hank Willis Thomas’ exhibit across the street. To see this new work, one must use flash to activate an image beneath the surface of the painting that is not immediately visible. Luckily I arrived perfectly prepared with this camera.

Tom Lee and Cameron Welsh

I went down the stairs and met these two bad guys outside of Gagosian. Gagosian’s personal Theaster Gates ambassador Tom Lee and brilliantly stylish artist and my friend Cameron Welsh wear vintage Armani.


Speaking of style, another young person caught my eye – coincidentally also named Cameron. I’m wearing funky Comme des Garçons pants (from a couple of seasons back, which makes me jealous as I can’t get a pair myself), Nike Comme des Garçons shoes and a top made by Cameron. A look I’d proudly plagiarize. It’s both Fashion Week and Armory Week, after all.

Urs Fischer

Now into Friday – again in Gagosian, this time at 555 West 24th Street. I photograph the masterful Urs Fischer in front of his incredible work CHAOS #501, (2022).


One of my favorite people in the world, JOE SHEFTEL (for those of you who don’t know, you should) Joe gave Alex Da Corte his first solo show at the gallery. He’s always ahead of the game and for that I admire and listen and watch whatever he tells me. He wormed his way into our Urs Fischer walkthrough and I caught him before Urs’s Denominator, (2020-22).

Michi Jigarjian

Next, a boat trip to Far Rockaway. Destination: The Rockaway Hotel. The Cause: The First Artist Alliance, which supports my friend Michi Jigarjian’s Baxter St organization, as well as NXTHVN and the Last Resort Artist Retreat. Here she is, sparkling in the center and flanked left to right by Marc Ronson (who later DJed for the evening), Titus Kaphar, Derek Adams and Jil Weinstock of Baxter Street.

Sheree Hovsepian and Michelle Hellman

Tequila and Tunes: (front) artist Sheree Hovsepian feeling the Ronson beats and (supported behind) the gorgeous I’m proud to call Mrs. Cohen aka Michelle Hellman.

Heaven Pittman

Back on the boat – next stop at South SeaPort Ferry Terminal and a short walk to the opening of Sky Pittman’s SN37 gallery. Image: Sky holds up the stairs.

David Lewis

Last stop before dinner: David Lewis Gallery. David, front and center in his Tribeca gallery, 57 Walker, at the opening of Kyle Thurman. David also has a location in East Hampton where Anton Kern and I will be curating “Syphilis Too” to open Memorial Day Weekend 2023. Something to look forward to — and yes, that’s this sequel to “Syphilis” that Anton and I co-curated at Joel Mesler’s Rental Gallery in 2019. We’re bringing Syphilis back to the Hamptons.

Loic Gouzer and Urs Fischer

Swiss Beats: Loic Gouzer and Urs Fischer at Urs’ party

Peter Marino and Izzy Lauder Frost

No party is complete without the brilliant living legend Peter Marino, seen here with the lovable Izzy Lauder-Frost (@thingsizzyloves) one of the best art Instagrams ever – LEGIT.

Kon Trubkovich and Josh Abraham

Gagosian artist Kon Trubkovich and music producer Josh Abraham hold court outside at the Urs Fischer exhibition celebration.

Mikio Inoue and Ashwin Balani

Finally a night off from the crazy Armory week events. I’m going back to where I started the week: Juban (where else). Here is famed cocktail king Mikio Inoue in all his finery with his A Hug From The Art World hat. He’s here with his head behind Juban, (his owner) Ashwin Balani. I can neither confirm nor deny that Ashwin was having a few cocktails in this picture.

Howie Michels

The following Thursday, September 15th, I opened an exhibition by Howie Michels entitled “Epic” at A Hug From the Art World. The title fits. Here Howie is seen looking at his wife, mega-author Francine Prose, with his amazing painting of Venus at the center. (The origin of the world comes to my mind).

Howie Michels

Howie’s work is part Hieronymus Bosch and part Max Beckmann. Seeing is believing, which is why this crowd has come. The opening was packed. Here Howie is front and center in the conversation with a beer.

Leon Michele

This is a view from above at HUGS, overlooking the crowd. There’s Howie and Francine’s son (in blue) Leon Michels – aka El Michels Affair, founder of Big Crown Records – on the decks.

Leon Michele

Another look at the party, this time with Leon Michels (still wearing blue, far left, with mustache and all) right in the mouth. Amazing tacos and tequilas organized by Brooklyn’s new Alma Negra restaurant (try it).

Eli Ping

My new favorite artist Eli Ping is sitting smiling happily at my reception in the gallery. I love you Eli

Massimiliano Gioni, Sheree Hovsepian, and Cecilia Alemani

I couldn’t be prouder to call Sheree Hovsepian my girlfriend. Her inclusion in the Venice Biennale was followed by a very nice exhibition at the Rachel Uffner Gallery (open now – go and see). Here she is photographed with Massimiliano Gioni and Venice Biennale curator Cecilia Alemani.

Scott Rothkopf

Numerous curators were out and about at the opening of Sheree. Scott Rothkopf from the Whitney was the first person I saw upon entering the exhibit.

Jane Hait and Katherine Brinson

Other curators: Jane Hait (founder of CARA) and none other than Katherine Brinson of the Guggenheim (little known fact: Kathrine and I have known each other since before our days in the New York art world. We go way back to when we were at Goldsmith College and to when we were younger . of Oxford University.)

Raschid Johnson

Most recently, the cheeky Rashid Johnson. I caught him just after he thought he got away with rearranging the seating plan. Caught scared and in the act.

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