December 11, 2008
Modern Art: Booze, Bums, and Bimbos?
To set the scene, imagine it's pouring in Manhattan and parked cars are actually sitting in a foot of water. It's also 38 degrees and December. Naturally, a perfect evening for gallery hopping in Chelsea. Who knew that there are more than 200 modern art galleries between 16th and 27th Streets? Today was a heads up, gold star day for NYC.
Act I, in which we get out of work at 5pm and are actually too early for the exhibit openings. Janine and I walked into a few galleries and wandered around. When uncomfortable, I start laughing hysterically. We didn't stay in the first gallery for very long because there was an odd little number with children and dildos and also there was no wine. From there we went to a few more galleries near 24th Street, including my favorite exhibit by Peter Callesen, "Folded Thoughts." I imagined Peter being 25 years old and from Brooklyn, but in reality he is 40 and Danish. He works with paper as his primary medium, and someday his art will be in my bedroom, even if the artist himself is a bit out of my league: http://www.petercallesen.com/index.html
Act II, in which it is now 6pm and the galleries close for the openings...huh? We got lost in a building with a locked elevator and upside down signs and then assumed we probably were the exhibit and I wondered where the funhouse mirrors were. Jokes on us. We're live art. Can the pretentious and curious art observers find their way back to the street? We did! Then we went to a real live opening at the Stellan Holm Gallery of Martin Mull's "Seven Deadly Sins." I thought it was a photo exhibition, however it turned out to be realistic paintings that, I couldn't help but notice, each cost more than my annual salary. We had a plastic cup of wine and then scurried across the street because we saw a giant Paris Hilton painting.
Now the fun really begins. I should've been concerned when they were serving bottles of Yuengling (hard to chug). I should've noticed that the scruffy artistic weirdo wishing me happy holidays was really homeless and taking advantage of the booze. Instead, I kept scolding myself to "stare at a painting, stare at a painting" so I wouldn't stare at the tall man wearing a blazer with horses on it and a green felt hat or the woman with a bad dye job taking his photo or the baby screaming from across the room. I had to tell myself to contemplate Paris Hilton's ass, so I wouldn't eavesdrop on a conversation about Ghandi. When we finally finished our beer and left, I was sort of in shock from being in a totally different world. It's scary that I'm more comfortable with sales reps than I am with art collectors... or whoever they are. I should note that I studied art from age 11 until I graduated from high school. I took private classes and all that jazz and I have an "art seal" on my diploma, however this particular art scene left me feeling sorta flustered!
Act III in which we go to class? We went to the Lehmann Maupin Gallery. I was feeling silly from the Paris Hilton "experience" and I was just about to spit my wine onto a painting from laughing when the gallery attendant said, "We're about to begin!" Oh Jesus. So then Tim Rollins and his team, Kids of Survival, talked about their work for an hour. 50% of it was very interesting and I might even think about it sometime, but the other half was basically in Yiddish. I have no idea what they were saying. All I know is that Tim is somehow from Maine and the Bronx, his 15 year old assistant looks exactly like McLovin and the other one was so attractive and had such a perfect jawbone that it would've been hard to decipher the Yiddish even if I could speak the language.
We didn't know if Tim was gay or straight or insane or smart or what. He talked about his students "coming to him" and how he lived in the Chelsea Hotel once because he thought Warhol still lived there. Then he kept talking about a metamorphosis symphony and I just kept staring at the jawbone and telling myself to think of dead puppies so I wouldn't laugh out loud and get called on in class.
Act IV in which we cannot believe the evening and end up in the Trailer Park Lounge & Grill for a nightcap of draft beer and nachos. This city never ceases to surprise me.
P.S. Susan, please move into my converted living room and work in a gallery so I can go to all of the openings and you can pour me complimentary wine! No, but really. It's amazing.
at 7:13 PM