17 June 2009
Just a quick one before I pick up where I left off (remember? Aaron Sheppard, et al.? To say nothing of Keith Tyson, Yayoi Kusama, Phoebe Unwin, Edward Cella, etc., et al.) – What’s the deal with museum, gallery or other art/culture events where the wine and/or hard liquor flow, or shall we say, are being poured with a heavy hand (a good thing, all things considered), but the food served is minimal to non-existent? Now, no one expects a gallery to hand you more than a glass of serviceable table wine or a spritzer at the run-of-the-mill vernissage. On the other hand, at what might be characterized as “special” events – special receptions, benefits, collector events, gallery events set off from the usual opening protocol, colloquia or other confabs, etc., where a slightly more ample libation might be offered; especially those events scheduled on ‘school’ nights at those somewhat ambiguous hours between ‘tea’, drinks and/or dinner – it might not be unreasonable to expect something to quell the hunger that, in the absence of an early dinner or a substantial ‘tea’, is surely swelling to a crescendo. Something perhaps slightly more than a breadstick (this is not a criticism of the fare at the Hammer, by the way) or a handful of salted peanuts.
EITHER OF WHICH WE (I speak for MANY of us) WOULD HAVE BEEN DELIGHTED WITH at the MOCA Contemporaries luau at the Catherine Malandrino Maison yesterday evening. In theory, the event was catered by the Malandrino café. In actuality, you could hardly call what we were presented with catering. In fact, you would have been excused for thinking it was a piece of performance art. Whatever it was, it was entirely surreal – the surrealism of it only magnified by the gathering haze of inebriation – inevitable if, like me, your last meal had been not much more than a light lunch and you had been hard at work for most of the day between 9:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. I should have guessed something was afoot when I was presented with a plate of half a dozen of the tiniest stuffed mushroom caps that were the first course of hors d’oeuvres to come out of the kitchen. It would be a long wait for the next plate (and I do mean plate, not platter). After a couple of surprisingly strong champagne & liqueur libations, I was really looking forward to something. As in ANYTHING. Anything appeared in the form of some microscopic-looking cherry tomato thing that looked tiny even on its toothpick. At this point, I was already practically drunk and wandered into the store to see what I scavenge. The wait staff had apparently retreated back to the kitchen again. Now what I saw was simply strategy: get the guests good and plastered and get them to drop a few quid BOTH on MOCA and on Catherine Malandrino shmatte. It made a bit of sense. The shmatte, such as it was, was fabulous. A beige-y draped cocktail dress beautifully draped and detailed in lace and netting would have fit me (once upon a (slightly more flush) time) brilliantly, and there was a quilted multi-colored mini-skirt that I seriously coveted. Unfortunately, my purse could scarcely budge for the parking valet – a situation that was moot because I was now in no condition to drive.
I was not alone. Clusters of guests were now huddling outside the kitchen door waiting to pounce upon whatever emerged from it. But you had to be very fast and very determined to get what there was to be had. The wait staff would rush out by-passing the beggars (us) outside the doors and rapidly fan back into the store – presumably to feed starving sales girls (or models? Presumably with a diet like this, you’d be ready for either the runway or the hospital.) By the second run, I was ready, and all but tackled one of the staff to grab my slightly-less-than-bite-size morsel of something vaguely resembling quiche.
Of course it wasn’t enough. By this time, I had joined a few other guests at the coffee bar, waiting for espressos and gnawing at the morning’s pastries and biscotti. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much left. I didn’t think I could even manage trying on the clothes in my condition and had already schmoozed half the Maison. A lot of people were heading over to LACE for the Fallen Fruit opening and performance, but I was in no condition to drive any more than a few blocks to the closest emporium selling coffee and FOOD (which happened to be Urth Café).
Look – don’t get me wrong. The reception was lovely. The clothes were fabulous. The drinks were …. Well there was Champagne. How bad could it be? But people with empty stomachs, whatever their taste for contemporary art, fashion, or for that matter the size of their wallets, need something MORE. Some galleries really get it (I’m thinking of a few Culver City galleries; a couple in Santa Monica; Lawrence Asher on Wilshire – you know who you are); but too often these are the exception. PLEASE L.A. ART WORLD: go ahead and spring for the Trader Joe’s nosh. The art audience’s (and your customers’) good will is not something that can just be written off.