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Ken Johnson

Ken Johnson

i gotta say, this has been the most educational fb thread i’ve ever had the pleasure of participating in. i mean that completely sincerely.
i’m glad richard and others have spoken up so eloquently for the event planners. lemme ask this: theory aside, where does criticism come in in relationship to event planning? i mean, what’s the criteria forĀ judging whether it is any good or not? it is because i don’t know what the appropriate or relevant ways to make judgments about it that i have a gut feeling it’s not art but something else. i’m referring to serving free food in a gallery, or designing a discussion forum about iraq and the stuff tino s does. when it comes to art, i’m starting to feel in some muddle-headed way that i’m an essentialist. there’s stuff that has the feel of art for me and other stuff that feels like sometihng else. for me it is not institutionally determined. it maybe be novel, thought-provoking, socially theraputic and all that, but lots of stuff has those qualities — they are not what makes sometihng art, i don’t think.

The above comment by NY art critic Ken Johnson has nothing to do with Artlurker, other than it references Artlurker contributor Richard Haden who sent it to me. It is part of a conclusion to a Facebook thread in which Johnson ventured many people find the term “relational aesthetics” confusing. should we call the artists associated with that movment “relational aestheticians”? ugh. i have a suggestion: let’s call them “event planners”. Today, partly because I feel I shouldn’t be working on my birthday and partly because I don’t want to influence anyone submitting to the Miami Writer’s Prize, I thought it might be fun for a change to focus on the catering provided by Miami galleries, and not the art. Of course, being a self proclaimed connoisseur of all things and an active member of the South Florida blogging community I am an avid reader of blogs like Food For Thought Miami (even The Burger Beast) so while this might seem impromptu, it is actually something I have wanted to do for sometime. Nevertheless, despite its lengthy period of gestation you may notice – from the tenuous link to relational aesthetics and the slap dash manner in which it will no doubt be constructed – that this post’s birth, much like my own, was chaotic, painful and will likely be remembered as something best forgotten.

For me second Saturday actually began on Friday with the openings of Chirsty Gast’s Batty Cave at Gallery Diet and three solo shows at Dorsch Gallery. At both of these events I was pleased to see that although the eyes of Miami’s community were not out on mass, the two galleries still made valiant efforts.


At Diet, ironically, we we pleased to see a number of impressive sushi platters. Included there in were favorites American style treats like California, Philadelphia and spicy rolls.


Although nothing REALLY wild was present we were treated to some ama-ebi and unagi. Accompanying the sushi platters was a delectable bouquet, small but powerful, which if I am not mistaken looked like a Pistils and Petals creation probably worth around 70 bucks. All in all the food and flowers here were excellent. My criticism in the case of Diet is a topical one as it regards the booze – there was no bar. I know its been a sore point in Wynwood especially of late. I myself have rallied up in arms against the hoards of drunks, but being one myself from time to time its always nice to know you can get it if you want it. In the case of Diet however, despite getting it, it seemed to be a friend of a friend kind of deal and when I did ‘get it’ it was Bud Lite.


After deliberating, cogitating and digesting at Diet (har har) I proceeded in a north easterly direction towards Dorsch Gallery. Here there was no food, but what the gallery lacked in snacks they made up for in accessibility. A fully stocked bar, totally unmanned.


Of course by now I can just about sneak my way into any typically off limits crevice and befuddle myself silly with the captains personal stock, but its nice not to have to (see Artlurker contributor Cassidy Fry helping himself above). At Dorsch the wine, although unmanned seemed to miraculously replace themselves and the beers, Sol I believe, were stowed in a cooler for the taking.


On the table a charming bunch of mauve roses.


And down the other side of the bar, a trash can!


Something which Diet, despite having food had sadly overlooked.

On Second Saturday I set out again, hell bent on measuring the relative quality and accessibility of nibbles and drinks, however, I was sorely disappointed. Apart from the New World BFA show at Cifo that to its credit served sushi and meatballs there was very little else on offer. Even at Cifo the food and drinks all came out on trays and after a while only those ‘in the know’ were drinking their fill.

I continued to search, largely in vain, for a piece of cheese or a fresh beer. Dreaming of the buffet at MOCA or one of Jason Hedges’ roasts I found myself again at Dorsch Gallery where a different bunch of flowers was on view.


As places began to close I began to lose hope. In the Design District I found the remnants of something – empty bottles, fragrant stains, plastic glasses crushed under foot – but alas I was too late.

Picture 3

After enjoying the potent ambiance at Spinello and ducking into Swampspace for a quick tinkle I went back to Wynwood one last time. Maybe Harold Golan had some cup cakes…nope. Maybe White Vinyl had some beef…nope. Britto was showing off his new iPad. Was it really him? Dejected I slumped in Artseen, the only space that seemed open past 11, and sipped thoughtfully on a generic brand of cola. Had my experiment failed? What was the experiment anyway?

Sadly I was sober enough to conclude that there was no point. Even now in the cold light of 9pm I fail to see any merit in what I was doing. Perhaps in future, when I have had enough time to prepare a key consisting of various symbols then I might revisit this exercise, but I doubt it. All that remains to be said, maybe, is that as much as we want to complain about booze etc at art events, the fact remains that people expect it, like it and in my case, at least last weekend, go for it. The food, the ‘event’ might overshadow the ‘point’, but the point of openings is the event. Those who sneer at abundances of sustenance can very well visit galleries mid week and spend their money in over priced museum cafes. In a way we are lucky. After all, hot dogs and beers are not free at sports events.

Tags: poorly executed, why bother?

This post was contributed by Thomas Hollingworth


  • Gallery Diet

    Yay! I’m so glad I decided to spring for the sushi this month and that our efforts didn’t go un-noticed… next month maybe we’ll continue our upgrade with a bucket of ice so the beers in the fridge don’t seem so exclusive…

  • anon

    I run a gallery here in Miami. One that you’d know. We go back and forth as to whether or not to serve booze and food all the time. It’s the usual argument where one person thinks that the art should speak for itself and that we shouldn’t have to bribe people into coming in, much like a museum shouldn’t have to offer you anything to come and appreciate that which it shows. I can’t tell you how many times I watch people walk in, go straight to the bar, get something and leave. It’s human behavior not at it’s most disgusting but certainly pretty awful.

    A few select times that we’ve not served, I’ve had my own glass of wine and I watch people walk in, search for the bar, not even see one single painting on the wall, walk right towards me and as “where’d you get that.” I tell them, “In back” and they apologize because they know it’s just plain wrong.

    It’s really quite sickening….

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As we’re not thinking we don’t need titles.