By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
When my girlfriend Minerva invited me to meet her at Ace Gallery for last Wednesday night’s opening extravaganza, I had little interest in the unveiling of Melanie Pullen’s “High Fashion Crime Scenes” exhibit. But I wanted to see Minerva and was mildly curious about what promised to be a dazzling spectacle of crowd and footwear, so I persuaded my photographer/art-snob friend Floyd to come with me.
Floyd brought along a bad attitude and a preconceived distaste for the exhibit, but he was driving, so who was I to complain?
He sulked as we trekked across Wilshire to the über-gallery.
“Dead girls in high fashion? That’sart? Thatgets you a show at Ace Gallery these days?”
Inside was a decadent to-do featuring a well-accessorized Who’s Who/“Who the Hell Are You?” of the L.A. Art Scene. The pictures were nice enough — pretty girls playing dress-up and dead at the same time. There were a hundred-plus images to take in, so even the most jaded of cynics was apt to find somethingpalatable.
Still, Floyd wasn’t embracing it.
“I can show you notebooks I kept five years ago that said: ‘Snuff. Fashion.’ It’s completely unoriginal.”
“Well, the hundredth-monkey theory says —”
“Yeah, yeah. Collective unconscious. Rupert Sheldrake. Whatever.”
We circulate, air-kiss, make small talk — all arty and sophisticated-like. I tell three different humans that I’m an L.A. native. They all assume I am from New York.
Floyd, a New Yorker, ponders this.
“Maybe it’s because you wear glasses.”
Something shiny catches one of my four eyes, and I latch on to a plump woman’s neck.
“I love your necklace!” I tell her.
“Is it because I don’t dress like a slut?”
Floyd, depressed by the sameness of it all, lapses into a familiar diatribe on the banal dullness of the upper-crust L.A. art scene — the same people, the same outfit, the same conversation. According to Floyd, it’s B+ art being eyed by a B+ crowd in a B+ space in a B+ town.
Minutes later, we’re cornered by a Swiss photographer who always hits on me (but never remembers doing it). He drones on about his Getty grant and his brilliance. I’m daydreaming of crop circles and arsenic-laced berm fillers when he veers off his “I’m so great” soapbox and backslides into a familiar song and dance.
“It’s like a bad Wlayout,” says the Swiss shutterbug.
Floyd, previously zoning out on passing cleavage, tries to strike up the B+ bandwagon.
“Or a good one,” he says. “But an editorial layout, just the same. Hardly what I would call art.”
“Hardly,” Swiss cheese concurs. “You know, I had this idea myself . . . years ago.”
And so it goes, the same conversation, the same envy, the same sour grapes — only fermented and chilled, poured into stemware and served on a silver platter, but sour and thin-skinned, nonetheless.
“So you both had the idea,” I break in. “I bet 50 people in this room had the idea. But she did it. She did it and she did it big and now she has a show at Ace Gallery. And that’s the difference.”
As Floyd and I escape the growing monstrosity of a crowd and stumble onto the well-manicured streets of Beverly Hills, I pose the following question:
“Which is more disturbing? A bunch of mediocre photographs exhibited at a fancy gallery or a handful of images so amazing and so mind-blowing that in comparison you’re a talentless boob?”
Floyd shudders at the thought. There’s no good answer.
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