Girl in the City Part II: The Art of Living

It’s Friday–again–and as I’m mapping out my weekend, my thoughts keep circling back to last weekend.

Since moving to Manhattan in February, I made a pact with myself to experience at least one new “thing” each week. In that spirit, last Friday and Saturday nights, I braved the elements (think wind, rain, more wind, more rain) and trekked out to the Chelsea Art Gallery District. Having been to many art gallery receptions, but none before in Manhattan, I have several observations to report.

First off, there’s no food, not a morsel, not a scrap, not a nosh, not a nibble. But then food is messy and distracts from the main purpose of attending a gallery reception, which is of course…

Being Seen. (And you thought I was going to say viewing the art, silly you).

Thankfully, there is wine, though usually stain-proof white. That said, one gallery had run out of even that by the time I arrived–for shame!

The reception experience varies greatly by the personality of a) the gallery and b) the artist or group of artists being shown. The first reception on Friday night, a series of black-and-white photographs with a sobering theme and a heavy political message, definitely attracted the older, intellectual set–think jeans and Ducoti leather wear and unapologetically gray hair.

Saturday night mere blocks away I attended two more openings, the first a family affair complete with strollers and young children racing around. Stain-proof white wine and designer water was surely the way to go. Yours Truly couldn’t fathom how the heap of soil–oops, I mean “art”–set in the center of the gallery floor managed to survive those eager-to-explore little fingers, but it was still intact by the time I left.

Gallery reception #2 featured “an exploration of the totality of color” and lots of “installations.” (Memo to Self: Manhattanites “in the know” get mightily miffed if you mispeak and say “sculpture.”) Yours Truly thought the um…”installations” amounted to old boards with nails hammered in–artfully hammered, not haphazardly hammered, but still–though naturally I kept such Simian thoughts to myself.

The attendees at this final reception were more gliterrati than intelligentsia, which is to say there wasn’t a scrap of denim in sight. Think “haute couture” as in off the runway, not the rack. I chatted briefly with one dashing fortysomething man, a student of the German artist whose work was being shown, who explained to me that he now has assistants who do his hammering for him. I also made the acquaintance of an exquisite older woman accompanied by her Peekaneese. After some mild coaxing, she (that would be the dog) performed several rolls for me in the center of the wide, glossy wood floor.

The dog really took to me, the people not so much. For one thing, I seemed to be the only one actually looking at the art–oops, I mean installations. Secondly, it was probably pretty apparent to the sponsors I wouldn’t be asking for a price list anytime soon.

As to what’s on tap for this weekend, that largely depends on the weather. I think I’ll likely skip the galleries this week, though when I do go back, I’m hoping to see at least one friendly familiar face.

I bet that dog has more than one trick up her sleeve.