Art fairs are everywhere these days, have you noticed? Enough to prompt The Wall Street Journal to do An Art-Fair Survival Guide on March 7, by Kelly Crow. Not saying it is all my scene, but it’s fun to be in on what so many people are talking about. And it’s exciting that more and more people seem to be interested in art. It must be contagious. That week, writes Kelly Crow, began in New York “a citywide swarm of art fairs” attracting collectors from all over and kicking off the spring art season.
The “art season” for me, however, started a bit earlier, with an unplanned visit last month to the Art Institute of Chicago, for a reception following the memorial service for a family member and beloved friend. That she, Frances Dittmer, bequeathed to the AIC the Christopher Wool painting that is the promotion piece for the entire exhibit is an irony and rather sweet satisfaction lost on none of us. Read the AIC write-up on the exhibit here.
I missed the Christopher Wool show when it opened to acclaim in late October at the Guggenheim in New York. I am crazy about the Guggenheim and am a member, but I missed it. (The Wool show closed in January) Why do I bring this up, you ask?
Well because many people were talking about did you see it at the Guggenheim and I think it is better here than at the Guggenheim and along those lines. And then whoever said that would look around sheepishly and say he’d better be careful where he says that. And you’d think a person (namely, me) with even a modicum of a cerebellum would pick up on that kind of caution. Slightly catty though it was.
I could see their point what with the Guggenheim’s spiraling walls affording close proximity to works that to my entirely unsophisticated eye seem to cry out for elbow room. But what do I know. Nothing, is what.
But that didn’t keep me from proffering the regurgitated remarks of others in attempts to make small talk with people I did not know on a subject I did not know. So I wandered into a lovely group of ladies, among whom I knew one. How do you like the show, etc., they asked. “Well I think it is wonderful,” I said, sorry as I was for the circumstances that brought us there. “I missed it at the Guggenheim so am doubly glad to see it here.”
Nods and smiles of approval. “Everyone seems to be saying,” I carried on, “how they prefer this one to the Guggenheim, which I can sort of see…” You know where this is heading, yes? Straight to disaster. But I kept talking, at which point you see one or two in the group get a look like, to paraphrase TR Pearson, I was standing there talking to the Governor and my skirt blew up over my head.
TRBL indeed. “Frances,” says one of the perfectly dressed, coifed, and bejeweled ladies indicating one of her companions. “Have you met Jennifer Stockman, president of the Guggenheim’s board of trustees?”
I mean, what do you say? When the earth does not open up and swallow you whole right then, as you so fervently wish it would, then you are compelled either to fake a seizure or to respond. Eliminating the former as bad form (even for me), I said, “Well you aren’t president of the Guggenheim because you’re a sissy.”
Or because she is not gracious and poised. Jennifer Stockman could not have been more gracious and poised, saying something about how she likes to hear what people are saying etc. etc. Nonetheless I would have given anything at that moment to have turned into a large potted palm and remained one for the rest of my natural life.
Read this to your children. Discuss it at dinner. Don’t be like me.
Do be like Jennifer Stockman.
And do read up on Christopher Wool. Robert Smith’s piece on Wool and the Guggenheim show here.
His Grace (my husband for new readers) and I were lucky to have loaned to us for a while this striking Christopher Wool piece, photographed here hovering above the Christmas mantle.
I was going to regale you with more art adventures but am too traumatized at the moment to continue. Stay tuned for the Getty Museum and Jackson Pollock’s Mural, Paul Gaugin, Mira Schendel and Sara Genn…
Until then I need water and a lot of light.