It’s a dilemma as old as time.
You have a date that you want to impress. You want that date to think you are a smart, well-educated, person with a vast cultural appetite. So what do you do on a date? Your usual evening of eating hot wings and watching procedural crime shows is not going to cut it. You need a night of culture, one that will impress your would-be mate enough to at least get that second date.
You have it planned out perfectly. A nice dinner followed by a dessert at a local gelato stand, then off to a local art gallery.
There is just one problem: art galleries are scary! There are all those paintings of demons and people with neatly groomed goatees. People talk about a twisted pile of metal like it is art when it is, in fact, a twisted pile of metal. How is a person supposed to survive all of that?
Surprisingly, it is not that hard. Anyone can do it. With three easy steps, you can go from a complete idiot to an art snob. Your date is sure to be impressed.
Step 1: Look the Part
There is nothing as awkward as a person hanging around an art gallery that looks like they don’t belong. If you don’t believe me, head to a local gallery in any sort of sports jersey. You will be stared at like a five-headed alien just burst through your chest.
When looking like a person who should be in an art gallery, the first thing to remember is comfort is for the unwashed masses. Art fans have no interest in being comfortable. Attempting to be comfortable would take away valuable time from their busy schedule of pretentiously judging art and pretentiously judging everything else in life.
Tight, ill-fitting clothing is the key. Jeans should not be relaxed or comfortable. If they are not cut to the exact curvature of your body, they are a waste of everyone’s time. Your best bet is to find a tight pair of jeans and wear them immediately to the gallery. A pre-gallery washing or even an hour or two wearing them ahead of time, and you will risk losing that “my jeans won’t allow me to bend my legs in any way, but I sure do look good” look.
The size of the shirt you wear does not matter. What matters is the neck.
At no point in time should you risk exposing your neck to the harsh, gallery conditions. You should be prepared for that inevitable art gallery vampire attack, covering your neckline with a turtleneck collar or scarf. Or multiple scarves. You might even be considered cool if you wore 60 pounds of gold necklaces like Mr. T did in the 80’s. Be creative with it.
Step 2: Be Able to Talk Artinese
The crowd at a gallery is a very snooty bunch. One incorrect word and you will immediately be shunned, forced to the back of the gallery where only confused boyfriends and people who are disappointed at the lack of poker playing dogs stand.
To avoid this, one must learn a few art terms:
Brush strokes: The stroke of a brush.
Medium: What the artist used to make the thing you are now staring at.
Depth: If the painting looks like it is actually another three-dimensional world, it has a lot of depth. If it doesn’t, it has very little depth. If it actually is another three-dimensional world, you might want to buy that painting immediately, lest you miss the adventures with talking woodland creatures that are contained inside.
Be sure to sprinkle these words into conversation about every painting.
Another important note is the lack of short words used by those in the art world. One syllable words are simply plebeian. Instead of saying, “That painting looks real good” like you normally would, say “That canvas gives the impression of being exceptionally high-quality.” The art crowd will eat that up even though it means the same thing.
The real mark of a true gallery nut, though, is the ability to steer the conversation about the piece back to your own life. Example:
“This piece has a bit of a Latin-American flair to it. It brings to mind a recent appointment I had with a gentleman named Javier at a TacoBell…”
Now your fellow gallery patrons have no choice but to listen to you prattle on about your own life. You have successfully won “Most Important Person in the Room” solely because no one else can compete until you’re done talking about Javier and the plate of Nachos Bel Grande he ate.
Step 3: Conduct Yourself Like You Belong
While the first two steps will get you in the door, it is still very easy to be identified as an interloper if you act like you don’t know what to do while you are there. It really is not that hard at all, though.
First, grab a drink. You don’t have to be thirsty. In fact, it’s better to not drink it at all. Just walk about, swirling whatever liquid they may be serving in one hand. You look like a person comfortable enough to be handling liquids near expensive paintings. Everyone knows that the threat of spilling a kombucha tea on a $300 painting makes you edgy and cool.
Next, find a piece of art and stare. Stare at it until your eyes hurt. Stare until the sight of that art makes you sick to your stomach, until you want to pick it up and hurl it out the nearest window. While you may be making yourself go cross-eyed, you are also convincing everyone that you are so enraptured by this painting that you can’t tear your eyes away. To like a painting that much, you have to be very knowledgeable about art.
Lastly, be dismissive of everything. You are an expert in art. Why would any of this impress you? You know everything there is to know and you have the kombucha tea and impractical scarf to prove it. You are truly a well-educated fan of art.
It definitely doesn’t matter if you actually know anything about it.