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August 19, 2013 | by  | in Arts Visual Arts |
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Four Portraits at an Exhibition Opening

  1. The Mother of the Artist

Like the mother of the bride, the Mother of the Artist is the only person allowed to wear a hat. She is the only person, other than the Intern, allowed to take photos. And she does so with a vigour that would put the Intern to shame, had the Intern not received a two-week training course on approaching every task with a grimace and a discernible lack of enthusiasm. For the first hour, she will have everyone on edge. She will point out errors in placement. She will point out crooked frames. She will tire and settle herself by the wine. Her laughter will get progressively louder, she will tell anyone who nears the table that this is her son’s/daughter’s show. She will check herself in the glass of picture frames, and leave when she notices wine stains on her lips.

  1. The Bewildered Friend

There will be hugging and congratulations, and the Artist will drift off to the other side of the room. The Friend will stand in one place and talk about how he doesn’t really get it, about how this isn’t really his kind of scene. He will stay for one drink. He will walk around the gallery twice, at a careful pace. He will, for lack of anyone else to talk to, complain to the Intern that the beer is warm. If the Intern is feeling generous, they will explain that the gallery doesn’t have the capacity to chill that many drinks. If the Intern has other things to do, they will shrug and walk away. The friend will ask why no one thought to buy some ice and a bucket. The Intern will explain that no one really felt like it.

  1. The Fellow Artist

There will be hugging and congratulations. During the embrace, the Fellow Artist will keep any comments beyond, “Oh, it’s so great,” and “You did such a good job,” to themselves. Their emphasis on the words ‘Oh’ and ‘such’ is apparent enough to make both parties aware that the comments weren’t genuine, and they will both walk away from each other. The Fellow Artist will place their business cards on any available surface. They will stop people mid-conversation and show them their website on their phone. They will ask the Intern how easy it is to get a show. The Intern will shrug and walk away. They will position themselves in the centre of the room and lead everyone conversation with, “What’s your medium? I work mostly in sculpture, some performance pieces too, but I’m looking into soundscapes.”

  1. The Freeloader

The Freeloader will arrive alone, about an hour in, wearing a torn blazer and ill-fitting cords. He will not know who is exhibiting. He will head straight to the drinks, and stay until after closing. The Freeloader will corner anyone who is available (common targets include wide-eyed Massey first-years, anyone who isn’t wearing black, and quiet, angry painters). The Freeloader will talk about this friend he has who has a truck and he takes it around to businesses and offers to wash their dishes for them and it’s great and really cheap and he does a really good job. He has a skill for choosing victims who are too polite or inept to dismiss themselves. He knows that Enjoy serves Beck’s on Wednesdays, that Matchbox serves Tuatara on Tuesdays. He knows that the staff look upon him with scorn, but he also knows that none of them can be bothered asking him to stop. There is a mutual acknowledgement that this relationship is symbiotic, for the Freeloader is an enabler, and the more people drink, the more art they buy. To try and ensure he isn’t outstaying his welcome, he may buy an inexpensive piece every couple of months. This piece will become his talking point for the next two or three openings.

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