Wine Zombies

photo (6)Of the many reasons to venture into Gothem, one of them is to take in the arts and culture, and pending not being able to afford real culture or art, one can venture about to certain areas of the city awash in galleries and vending some creative talent or other and agape at works on paper, in oils, sculpture of all manner of media, and become awash in so much that is in fashion or costly but yet misunderstood by the masses. That, and achieve falling down dead drunk after an evening on the town spending only whatever it takes for a few passes on the subway.
Primarily, there is wine at these affairs along with the art. Lots of wine. For free. If you are lucky there is some version of champagne if you are really lucky you strike upon a gallery that thinks it’s funny to serve PBR in a tub of ice, “oh ho ho ho, we are so trendy because this beer is so lowbrow it clashes with our art” and I think “ah ha ha ha I can down this stuff like water since my mother raised us kids on this brand of water.” These tubs filled with cheep evil smelling beer usually don’t have an attendant handing them out so help yourself. Don’t forget to slide one of those 4 inch bolts into your pocket for later consumption like in the hallway, elevator, or as you wander to the next gallery and see if the attractive people are more distracting than the art.
The unicorn of gallery art openings is that where booze is served and/or hot-d-vores (these are all heat-n-eat food not the posh things you fancy ones eat at friend’s wedding in Java or Perth or wherever, but things that tumbled out of a bag kept in a freezer). This author is not proud, but there is some satisfaction to say that at the height of the art-buying binge that came with the house-buying frenzy, before the crash of 2008, that I fed myself and maintained a certain level of inebriation after work by visiting these affairs (a future post will reflect on the spreads start-ups once maintained, but that’s from the vaults of pre-1999). The trick of course is to get to the art gallery ghetto early, on time, right when the bell rings. Annnd, they’re off! Avoid at all costs being fashionably late. Artists should still be putting labels on their works. Some works may still not yet be dry. Gallery owners running about, the wine kid just uncorking the first bottle. Also, do not attempt to meet people and then go out, they will be late, you will be slowed down in conversation, or otherwise confounded by the company and miss out on the real reason you are here, for the benefits of mingling, having some good conversations, and seeing what’s new about paint on stuff or things attached to other things in ways you didn’t personally consider. You will meet enough new friends as you are sipping your Free Wine.
Gallery crawls must be a lonely affair in order to truly enjoy them. Those traveling lightest will ensure success at obtaining that flute of champs or rolled mystery meat in a pastry thrust into your hand by an obsequious art school kid who can’t believe she landed this unpaid internship at Pock Pock Gallery where she can meet interesting people… like me… excuse me, can you top me off a bit… I’m thinking of buying a $5000 work of art to hang on my wall… I believe if I plaster enough encaustic works on the walls of my unheated room they will insulate it. Yes I, along with the vast majority of the people squeezed into this gallery tonight so tightly we view the works hung carefully on the walls at about 3 to 6 inches away so we do see the brush work, indeed, are here with not enough money to pay of a cab ride after-wards, no matter how well we tossed together an outfit. We are trappings, the crowd that makes the one or two potential buyers think they’re on to a Fresh New Artist(tm) when unbeknownst to them they are surrounded by the Wine Zombies.
Also called the Hollow Leg Crowd, Wine Zombies are nothing new nor specific to Gothem. I do yet have fond memories when I was far younger and the Warhol Generation, those either in the Factory, close to The Factory, or tangentially associated with The Factory – which considering how open and freely Mr. Warhol associated with high and low this meant thousands of individual artistias -, had yet gotten geriatric and were just plain ancient and falling apart from their own hollow legs giving out from under them doddering about saying how close they were to Mr. Snap-on-Wig himself his ghost too busy doing something else to come after them from Beyond to punish them for such lies…. however, knowing how he liked a good story and it kept his name alive…..
photo (7)Those were great days. There was the couple of art mavins who wore strange outfits. He wore I forget and she always wore something revealing – something with her nipples showing and the majority of her breasts which were ample but gravity and Father Time had yanked down to her belly, not quite her knees but certainly there was a born on date printed somewhere on those charming appendages and they had expires. It is sad commentary on a misogynistic society that the man cannot be described in a similar manner but what is worse, to be remembered as the strange whore with the saggy baggies or the forgotten rube companion, male shaped but otherwise a ridiculous void in a tare in the universe? For one, I would rather be known as the horrid nipples, but that’s just me. There were so many older people, the last gasp of the 1970s and we, the younger crazies, would cluster together and make fun of these oldsters as the drank wine, as we drank wine. I remember boosting a bottle of booze only to let it slip out of my hands and smash on the subway platform to rage at my life, at the lost booze that made the entire station reek of vodka or whatever and then realizing I had not paid for this, that I was indeed quite inebriated and unlike my hosts, I had to work the next morning. For a paycheck. And so we kids gathered to take the stroll, the crawl from one gallery to another, just beating the zombies of wine, the last ranking member Factory as they stumbled in front and behind us. It was a lovely way to spend a Thursday evening and as the summer approached, to be wandering about those industrial streets, to be in the dim light of late spring, it was a wonderful thing. And sometimes, once in a while, I would see art that was worth the trip.
For the art of Gothem does not dwell in some singular gallery, but it can happen just about anywhere. Of the art crawl, of the booze, I do miss that off chance when entering a room one’s breath can be taken away by a few smudges of oil paint or a well crafted design. I also in time miss those strange older people, the leftovers from the 1970s or 1980s or whenever since today it seems that those who wander the hallways of the buildings of art on the west side of Gothem or elsewhere in the art ghettos do so in a safe bubble, not worrying about the crime and dirt and muck of humanity since all that has been swept away and today, we are all artists who clink plastic cups in complete safety both in body, and because of the nature of the Art Market and the finances of Contemporary Fine Arts, in mind too. It took spirit that I am sure I lack to wear nothing covering my boobies and attend openings in a still-formal world or to wear the same green coveralls or whatever the trope was and be obvious to all, it took courage to go out there and fail and be rude and to try something new knowing it will be received with laughter or derision. Today I still enjoy going to The Western Lands. To the Highline. To the restored warehouses and seeing the same bad art, the same wine, and once in a while, finding a gem. Finding a work that still makes me shudder. And rarely. Very rarely. Finding some cheep free champagne.
photo (8)

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