Friday, October 6, 2006

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of the Art World

Darlene, My Darling 14
Originally uploaded by lorenzodom

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of the Art World

Darlene, oh, Darlene.

Darlene was the first of many people I spoke to at Photo New York , The 3rd Annual International New York Contemporary Photographic Art Fair on Friday afternoon.

I love Darlene.

Okay, maybe I don’t love her, but I surely do like her, or at least my very first impression of her.

She was kind, she was genuine, and she answered all my questions. I often have lots of questions for people I just meet, because I am fond of people in general and I am usually truly interested—unless, of course, they immediately turn me off with some arrogant gesture or act of pretension, than, well then, I usually just smile and get anxious about moving on.

Well, unfortunately, and fortunately, at the Fair you had a lot of folks on the extremes of this spectrum. You had those gallery owners that were effusive as long as they believed you were a potential buyer, as long as they were convinced that you weren’t another dreaded photographer. And then you had those people who were willing to set aside their agendas for a moment and would talk with you person-to-person. Coincidentally, a lot of the latter were from California. Go figure.

Alas, apparently this is the art world. There is a lot of genuine beauty and a lot of bullshit; just as much glossy surface, as there is wholesome substance.

In stark contrast to Darlene’s pleasant welcome to the fair, were Heckle and Jekyl, the Hyde and the Pride of the art world, two art dealers who apparently liked feeding off each other like cannibalistic sycophants.

FoS was the first proprietor of the very first gallery I came upon. B.S. was apparently just hanging around, seeing what she could siphon off the other.

At one point FoS began talking about one of her featured artists, when B.S. butted in with, “Oh, I know him!” FoS, apparently didn’t buy it, because she glared at her and then said, “Oh, yeah? I’m having dinner with him tonight.”

“Well, I was supposed to see him last night. I know his wife,” retorted B.S.

“You mean Zia? You know Zia?”

“Well, his wife…” B.S. stuttered, “I’m not sure what her name is. I’m going to call him right now.”

A moment later, B.S. shows FoS her phone and claims, “I’m not getting through. Is this his number?”

FoS didn’t fall for it though. For after she looked at her own phone she suddenly realized the ruse, and snickered, shook her head while smiling, “Oh, come on now…I’m not giving you that.”

Having observed such blatant scheming, I couldn’t help but start laughing out loud, and commenting, “Wow, I can’t believe I just witnessed that.”

It was such a stereotypical New York scene of cunning and conniving, of how things operate when it comes to money-grubbing, that I simply couldn’t hold back my chortle.

It was then that I figured it was time to press on.

Anyway, I immediately liked Darlene of Theo. Even though she immediately knew I was not going to be a new client she spoke to me about what she does and what she was doing here at the fair. She engaged me not as means to an end, but simply as the end itself, as the here and now, and maybe even, the never again. In other words, she was real and the kind of person you instantly feel you’d like to befriend.

Her kind disposition and the two free martinis I had toward the end of the show carried me through what might have been an otherwise a half-empty experience.

Moreover, and perhaps, most importantly, she let me take her picture. The colors, the exquisite contrast and subtle hints of complementary hues, the angle at which her head leaned to align with the sharp jet of a shadow on the wall behind her, and that slightly demure smile all turned me on. I thought “This is art, this is beautiful, Darlene is beautiful, life is beautiful!” Thank you Darlene.

Some of the other real people I met and would like to mention were Daneyal Mahmood, who is opening up his Chelsea gallery in November and Kyle Rosier of Rosier Gallery in San Francisco. Not only were they genuine people, their artist’s work was impressive. I highly recommend you check them both out.

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