Monday, April 28, 2008

THREE TALES OF ART FAUX PAS


Get your art straight, fool!
So we were at Ryan Myers' art opening in Philadelphia the other day at Artstar Gallery and there was an artist there I know (who I will keep nameless) and we chatted for a small part of the evening. I noticed a piece of her artwork was there, presumably from a past show and thought it would be nice to acknowledge it. As she was passing I pointed to the work and said "I see you have a straggler here". She looked at me smiling, I could see the confusion in her eyes..."one of your pieces..." I pressed on. It was only then when I saw my wife look at me that I realized it was a different artist I was thinking about. I wanted to die...

My wife affectionately calls me Larry David because I am constantly saying things or dwelling on issues that I shouldn't. But I find it is hard to keep up on all the artists out there, skillfully being able to match the names with the artwork. I sent her an email apologizing and I wrote, "... it could have been worse, I could have mistaken your work for a Thomas Kinkaid "Painter of Light" painting" -- then I realized after hitting "send" that maybe what I just wrote was in fact worse.


The Art of Some Young guy...
A few nights ago I was in my neighborhood of Fort Greene, Brooklyn and I saw an Asian artist I know walk by. We had a nice conversation once at an opening here in the city - his work is well know and again I will keep him nameless, but I went up to him and said "Hi ___________ how are you" I shook his hand vigorously, "Michael Mararian..." I announced, "We spoke at the _______________ gallery. I didn't know you lived in my neighborhood" He smiled at me and said one word.

"Yummy."

I continued babbling on, sort of ignoring his comment, but again he said "No, no, Yummy!...I'm Yummy!"

I'm thinking to myself now, "okay dude, what are you trying to tell me here" And it then dawned on me. Yummy is the name of the Chinese food place around the corner. He works there and that's how I recognized him. He laughed, smiled continued on and I apologized and left. I would love to tell that story to the actual artist but I'm afraid it will sound racist but the fact is the guy really does resemble him. Perhaps I will tell him the story one day and preface it by saying "I know this sounds racist, but..." Riiiight, something tells me from the moment you start out with a line like that you are destined to be sending an apologetic email later that night....


In Retrospect I Should Have Fawned...
Lastly, I met Ron English and Mark Ryden recently - well sort of. It was an opening at the Jonathan Levine Gallery and they were both there at the preview standing near each other. I would have been the third person in the triangle had I been part of the conversation. I wanted to say something but I didn't want to be fawning over either of them so I took my cue from Mark who said as he was about to depart, "We're off to see a drag show." and he said the performers name and I was surprised how uninteresting it was. I was accustom to artists names like "Hedda Lettuce" "Ivana Cockatoo" "Marsha Dimes" etc.... So naturally (or un-naturally I chimed in)

"That's strange," I said - they both looked at me - a pause as they tried to figure out if I was a friend of either one of them -- "Usually drag queens have very interesting names." I continued, "...a buddy of mine met a black midget drag queen once, and her name was "Teeny Tiny Tina Turner".

Long pause now. Neither of them reacted at all. AT ALL. Nothing. No response. Death. Mark said goodbye and left.

* * * * *

In my case there is something about the art world and my dealings with the artists themselves: I really need to just shut up and be a silent observer.

2 comments:

PeterC said...

Mike - that is so funny. I'm illiterate with smart alliterations but that tiny tenna turny thing would have had me cracking up anywhere, even if I was in church. Your timing is still excellent, even in the description.
I think you hit a layer of insulation people in any accomplished field tend to have., but I also think that was a fine example of what you'd avoid when it's your turn to be there.
..By the way I netflixed that documentary you suggested here about mr english, I'm glad people like that exist. ..Even if they tend to detatch themselves from people outside their immediate way of seeing things at some point. it's a viscious circle I guess.

Michael Mararian said...

Hey Peter - I'm glad you grabbed that film - "My Kid could paint that" is another great one - and "Who the &*%$%# is Jackson Pollack" as well. Yeah it just seems I need to wear a muzzle around town. Even when I try to be endearing I end up say things that come out slightly askew. Been talking to ricket BTW - he's goig to try and make my L.A. show in July. thanks