Why I Didn’t Come to Your Opening

by Michael Anthony Farley on August 30, 2016 · 1 comment Off Our Chest


I’m sorry I didn’t come to your opening. And I’m sorry I probably won’t make it to all of your future ones either.

Like many people lucky enough to work in the arts, I should probably just have some variation of these phrases saved as drafts in my phone, email, and Facebook messenger. Apologies and explanations have become somewhat of a Monday morning ritual.

That’s because, for reasons I don’t understand, the vast majority of art openings happen on three nights of the week between the hours of 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. or 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. It is impossible to be in two galleries at the same time, yet an artist-run space in Bushwick with otherwise inconsistent hours will open a show the same Thursday night as 20+ gallerists in Chelsea, 40 minutes away.

In nearly every city, art-saturated neighborhoods try to tame this scheduling beast by organizing “Third Thursdays” or “First Fridays” or “Second Saturdays” or some other alliterative night designated for cultural events in close proximity. One of the major flaws in this logic: these are competing with other weekend activities.

Also like many people fortunate enough to work in the arts, I necessarily have more than one gig going. A sizable chunk of the cultural workforce moonlights in music or nightlife—from bartending one night a week to being a party “host” to help pay the rent to stripping. When you text me, for example, at 8 p.m. on a Friday or Saturday night asking “Where are you? I want you to meet the artist!” my answer will usually be “frantically searching for a complete pair of fake eyelashes because I have to DJ a party in drag in two hours. What’s the artist’s name? I’ll put you both on the guestlist.” It sounds like a glamorous problem, but it’s one I would rather not have.

Stock-photo approximation of my weekend "job".

Stock-photo approximation of my weekend “job”.

A simple solution to this issue is to stop having art openings on weekend nights. I can’t stress enough how lovely it would be to leave work on a Monday or Tuesday evening and be able to spend some unrushed time in front of artwork, have a few glasses of wine and conversations, and then head home to sleep at a respectable weekday hour. Most of the 9-to-5 workforce would be thrilled at the prospect of 6-to-9 art openings. In the case of the 9-to-5 art workforce, they would be complimentary to our workdays. I’d love to wake up on a Wednesday or Thursday with fresh thoughts about a show I’d seen the night before, excited to review it. David Zwirner always opens on Tuesday nights, and his shows always get a lot of attention.

But when those of us who work in the arts feel obligated to schedule our days off around more art activities, it’s fucking stressful. On my rare, un-booked weekends, sometimes I just want to go to the beach, or the movies, or get out of town, or just get drunk. I suspect I’m not alone in this sentiment.

Drinking wine: a great idea for Sunday afternoon or Tuesday night. Not a recommended activity if you plan on ordering vodka-Redbulls an hour later.

Drinking wine: a great idea for Sunday afternoon or Tuesday night. Not a recommended activity if you plan on chugging vodka-Redbulls an hour later.

And really, we need to talk about the drunkenness.

Does the art world know how annoying it is for bartenders in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, Miami’s Wynwood, or even Baltimore’s Station North when they have to deal with multiple art events letting out at 9 or 10 p.m. on busy nightlife evenings? Please don’t schedule your openings—where you will be drinking wine for hours—on nights that you plan on going out later. Everyone is sick of art people getting shitfaced by 11 p.m. on crowded bar nights. Chasing whatever cheap wine you’ve just imbibed with even one cocktail is a recipe for hangover hell.

Which brings to mind the only acceptable weekend art activity: the closing brunch. Why can’t we make the opening brunch the default? The Sunday afternoon closing brunch is the best idea curators/gallerists have had since white walls. It’s really the perfect way to recover from your weekend and transition back into the art-work-week. No, I won’t guarantee that I can give up a Friday or Saturday night to come to your show. But give me a 2 pm mimosa and I’ll definitely be at your closing.

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