Gallery openings are not for the faint of heart. Or at least not for my faint heart. Most recently I suffered a small string of sharp heart palpitations as wandering visitors veered too close to our floor installation of small porcelain vehicles. Strangely enough, I’ve managed to get through each ‘normal’ workday without incident. It seems to me that it is only during openings when large crowds of beer-in-hand sociables threaten the safety of the artwork itself. Which brings me to my point: are openings too social?
The last time I actually looked at artwork at an opening was when I watched a mischievous gallery visitor test the liquidity of an installation meant to look like spilled wine. He purposefully stepped on the seemingly liquid patch, but looked rather disappointed when the poured fluid turned out to be dried plastic. I was intrigued by his devilish grin…and disturbed by his callousness. What if it had been liquid? I’m guessing he would have bolted.
On my recent stroll through Chelsea’s 27th street gallery openings, I felt more like I was on a mass pub-crawl than a chain of art exhibitions. It was difficult to get in and out of doorways, beer cans were haphazardly stacked by the exits, and little dogs roamed free (on short leashes, that is.) It’s all a carnival ride until something gets damaged, and then the truth of the matter is, someone is liable.
Although I’m not here to police these events, I will warn Mr. Mischievous Visitor by quoting the witty tagline of the television show My Name is Earl: “Karma is a funny thing,” my friend, yes “karma is a funny thing.”