Michael Smith b. 1951
QuinQuag (2001-2002)
New York Times
ART IN REVIEW; Michael Smith and Joshua White
Published: December 7, 2001

This clever collaborative spoof of a utopian artists' colony, fictitiously situated in the Catskills, touches on some tender issues, including the use of artists and their work to enhance the commercial projects of real estate moguls.

The failed history and projected future of QuinQuag, as the colony is called, begins with a fake biography of its purported founder, the art patron and feminist Isabelle Nash, who in 1949 gave a select group of artists a 50-year lease at $1 a year on land near her estate.

The installation includes personal artifacts of Ms. Nash, like her car keys, family photographs and such; a selection of the unappealing QuinQuag tiles and craftsy rocking chairs made by artists for sale over the years (including the famous rocker used by John F. Kennedy); and a spurious television interview with surviving colony members.

The story is compounded when ''Mike Smith,'' a real estate entrepreneur, buys the land after the colony dies. Having discovered its former use and that QuinQuag tiles have become Catskill icons, he tries to market the site, reinvented as the QuinQuag Arts and Wellness Centre. A diorama gives the layout of the ''improved'' site, including the old communal studio building and cabins mingled with proposed new structures like tram stations and a nutrition center. A donor ''tree'' proclaims a smattering of corporate contributors to the project.

Although its higgledy-piggledy installation is a little hard to follow, the show is pointed and amusing once you get into it.