gallery guide to new york city
It has come to my attention that many of you are unschooled in the ways of gallery going in New York City. I will not hold this against you, though I would ask that you take all necessary steps towards remedying your naiviete, so that you might navigate these social settings with propriety and decorum. I contemplated, the other day, when returning from a gallery event, that I represent quite a wealth of knowledge as regards the New York Gallery scene. I’ve been there, I’ve walked these rooms, I’ve heard these conversations, I’ve drank that Yellow Tail Shiraz from Australia. I’ve heard them in the rooms come and go, and talk of Michelangelo. And now, heavens, I feel I am as a dam that might burst with all of this wonderful wisdom. I am writing this blog to impart to you, my reader, a guide to New York galleries, and all of their delectable felicities of cultural sophistication and refinement.
But before I begin, I must address the question which the reader may understandably present “Kevin, who cares bout how them New York galleries work?” Dearest friend, I can only convey to you the joy imparted by the identification of artistic stratifications. Consider for a moment, if you will, the ability to walk into a gallery and instantly identify who the owner of the gallery is. Why, if that is your objective, your goal will be attained in mere seconds, if only you read my guide. And so, a wealth of knowledge which weighs so heavily upon my shoulders is now lovingly dispersed amongst your eager hands.
First off, we shall begin with the most general information. How does one stand in a gallery? That is simple. However, as we further delve into social niches, we find variants upon the theme. But I digress. How should one stand? Let us begin with the fact that males stand with weight evenly distributed between both legs, with the legs being spread apart a mere foot or so. No exceptions.
Females, however, do something that we shall here term as “The Flamingo.” All of the weight goes on one leg. No exceptions. Now, the hip above the load bearing leg is then thrust out. The younger and more attractive the woman, the further the thrust of the hip. Furthermore, the elbow is then placed on the projecting hip, with the glass holding the wine resting neatly on the said hip. Don’t believe me? Try it in the comfort and privacy of your own home or office cubicle, wherever you might be gleaning this valuable information.
The identificatory signs of Gallery owners are a bit more subjective, but I can assure you that they are just as easy to find. First off, look for heavy, black rimmed glasses. This is not a surefire sign, as the same glasses are worn by art critics, but it does narrow your search quite well. To continue on- their garb will either be flamboyantly colored silk, or black cotton. Never in between (no browns, navy blues, etc.) In the summer, in SoHo, they will be wearing flamboyantly colored silk. In the winter, on the upper East Side of Manhattan, they are adorned in black. Black turtlenecks. Black skirts. Black buttondown shirts with black buttons. Belt buckles may be silver, on occasion. Let’s see, I’ve covered glasses, clothing… oh yes, physiognomy is next. Look for eyebrows that are perpetually raised.
Now, now… where are we? Ah yes. Artists. They are the easiest to spot. Can you say “Rodin’s Thinker”? In Manhattan galleries, artists always touch their chins. They do so to convey the fact that they are the thinkers in society. That’s as easy as it is. They always have their hands to their chins, their brows furrowed, and their heads leaned forward in sincere conversation. On occasion, they will lean their heads back, and look up to the skies as Jean d’ Arc might have gazed through the earthly firmament to receive divine revelations from on high. That is to say, artists will occasionally look up into the corner of the ceiling in the room, while the rest of humanity hovers somewhere around the horizon. If the artist is from Brooklyn, his or her hair will be messy (though to make his hair messy, he or she spent 45 minutes in the bathroom, curiously enough.) If the artist is from Europe, he will have long hair and a faint beard ( the “I’m too busy to shave look”), while the woman will be wearing couture and green galoshes. I need not waste my time with more manners of description- in galleries, all artists touch their chins.
I shall here give an abbreviated description for the remaining figures in the New York City art world.
Solo Artist- in a solo show, this is the individual in the room whose face is completely devoid of all emotion. And, he or she touches his or her chin.
Art critics- black rimmed glasses, very quiet earth tones in clothing. However, as soon as they open their mouths you see that they are, sadly, covered in connoi soars.
Art Professors- Clad in worn clothing. Plaid shirts, torn jeans, an old sports jacket
Art gallery staff- all black clothing, though with an overeager look on the face.
Art Agents- may be wearing various combinations of the aforementioned attire, but one feature remains constant- eyes that dart back and forth quickly.
And then, there is the few stragglers who come in off the street. Heaven knows where they come from, or why they come, but there is always a few in the crowd. They wear simple shirts, knit sweaters, blue jeans, normal dresses, a baseball cap. They smile. They converse quietly. I even saw one fellow with a baby carrier, with a small infant dangling from the front. They stare at the paintings. Hmph.
I’m nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there’s a pair of us -don’t tell!
They’d banish us, you know.
How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!