I always enjoy art walks. You get to meet interesting people, and sometimes even talk about art! For the galleries, it generates exposure and business. For the community, it brings people downtown. So at least there is an appearance of vibrant night life.
I was fortunate to have met at least a few interesting people during this Fourth Friday Gallery Night, among which was a professor from UNCW's fine arts department. We had a good talk about a master's class he teaches on invention. Additional familiar faces also came by, including some of the gallery's represented artists.
All was going swimmingly until I was drawn into the negativity nexus of a bitter young woman. She was staring intently at one of the photographs on the wall. Her attire might have been a little too casual for this occasion, and she was eying the crowd for a victim as her lean an tall figure shifted about.
I thoght I would see if she had any needs I could attend to, and her nicotine-marked face tightened with satisfaction. It started out innocently enough, with questions about the photographs on display. Yet it quickly plummeted into a cascade of random inquiries and dissatisfactions. First it was all about whether the photographs were digitally touched up, where it took numerous reiterations that they were not for her to grasp the concept. From there she stumbled onto declaring the work on display to be boring, and was appalled that some of our artists appeared to be painting in the style of the "California beach school" (picture above), a movement long gone. For the record, it's actually called the Bay Area Figurative School, popular during the mid 20th century.
I don't know if she had just too much wine on her freeloading trip from gallery to gallery, too much Ritalin before she left the house (or not enough), or whether she was just plain crazy. Whatever the case, our conversation steadily deteriorated. She got upset that I wasn't familiar with the other gallery's show down the street, then continued to interrogate me as to what artists I thought were good. As if whatever I had to say mattered at that point.
She didn't seem remotely interested in anything other than arguing trivialities by this time, yet continued
to probe me for any explanation why we might have chosen to hang this "crap" on our walls. I think that in the end she wore herself out, and slowly stopped incoherent rambling without giving me the opportunity to respond in full. That's when I saw my out, having stood there for what seemed like an eternity, and bid her good riddance with a polite "Well I hope your night goes... ...better." She didn't say anything, turning towards the door with a nod.
So what am I to learn from this? Maybe that "you can't please everybody," but that's too obvious. I prefer to think the moral of this story to be more like "don't get pulled into bitter psychos' gravitational vortex." Though the real lesson is probably somewhere in between those two.