December 2, 2010

How To Be Cool at a Gallery Opening

Know Your Artists

It is important to know the name of at least one of the artists showing work in the show. Usually this will be easy because nine times out of ten the ‘gallery opening’ is just your roommate displaying plaster casts of her breasts at the teen center in Downtown Sacramento.

If you happen to live near a large urban art community, more research may by prudent. Don’t hesitate to make a Google search and peer apprehensively at tiny .jpegs of the artist’s florid steampunk textile sculptures.

Dress To Impress

It’s a myth that artists only wear black. White artists generally wear black. Black artists wear white. Yellow artists wear blue, etc. Sorry, I didn’t make the rules. They still need to be followed. Also, turtlenecks are, somehow, always appropriate.

Upon Arrival

When you arrive be sure to greet everyone whose face you can remember. First and foremost the art world is about networking and mutual respect. After all, any of these people might someday score you a sweet unpaid internship managing the Twitter page of a ceramics gallery in Pasadena.


Many large institutional galleries are designed more or less like drive-through restaurants. Enter here and read the menu. Walk past several large sequined AK-47s representing various bitter conflicts in Africa. Exit here and pass through a little hallway with the modest post impressionist collection.

In galleries that are not ‘one-way only’ crowd awkwardly in the center of the room. If you must move around, be careful. Pass invisibly between a very fat patron and a large oil painting of a Big Mac. The man seems annoyed.

Get Involved

It is polite to approach at least one artist (if it is a group show) and ask a simple question about their work. For example ask, “how much money do your parent’s give you each month?” Do not be upset when the artist becomes evasive. You have just participated in ‘a dialog on modern art,’ to some degree.

Get Fucked Up

Most people seem to have at least mild social anxiety. Devoting time to art seems to exacerbate this. Treat artists with respect by getting shit faced and flirting with them. Generally in Manhattan, two large garbage cans exist in each gallery for the purpose of cooling and disposing of beer cans. Remember to casually scoop cans out of the garbage can containing ice. Try to imagine you have just showed up to your best friend’s basement and are stealing beers from his dad.

Once you become intoxicated begin talking shit loudly: “Who the fuck does Brad Troemel think he is?” or “Dale Chihuly? Bitch, I grew up in Seattle the man is a total freak. We met at an art camp run by Microsoft.”

You see notable artist Terence Koh, walk up to him, make your fingers into the shape of a vagina, and hold them to your mouth suggestively.


If the opening is well attended, after a while the gallery will get too hot. Go outside and smoke. If you don’t smoke, don’t hesitate to grab another drink and brazenly violate your city’s open container law. While outside, begin ‘getting serious’ about trying to sneak into an appropriately ambitious party. The James Franco party is probably a stretch, so don’t bother. You have other options anyways: “Hey are you guys going to the Kiefer Sutherland BBQ? I want to go, but not alone.”

Who To Take Home

You’ll probably get too drunk to stay out. Nobody really parties on Friday anyways. The key is to take home an art slut (male or female) who has the same shitty taste in movies you do. That way, when you get back to your basement apartment in Long Island Queens you can pop in the Twins DVD without fear of rejection or of confusing various layers of irony. Don’t talk too much about the gallery opening. TC mark

You should follow Thought Catalog on Twitter here.