How to Survive a Fancy Art Event

This is not the Whitney Biennial. But you get the idea.
This is not the Whitney Biennial. But you get the idea.

My moment of glory as an intern came this past week while attending the opening of the 2014 Whitney Biennial. My association with the staff placed me on a guest list among the artists, curators, and trustees that made this event happen. And I was going to get the very most out of my fancy event experience. Now that I am officially a seasoned attendee of fancy art events, I thought I should pass my newly acquired wisdom along.

1)      Get there early.

Maybe one day I’ll be one of those featured contributors who get to bypass the line. But today, I am merely an intern; hence, I am very low on the priority list. Knowing my place, I arrived 20 minutes before the doors opened. And a 20 minute wait in the cold was well worth the chance to check my coat and first dibs access to the free wine and gourmet cheese crackers. Those salty, delicious crackers do not last past the first hour.

2)      Travel lightly.

Because if you didn’t arrive early, that coat check situation might be a nightmare. And then that heavy coat and bulky handbag quickly turn into your own personal set of weights, hindering that brief moment of opportunity to squeeze through the crowd.

3)      Wear reliable shoes.

It is likely you will never have a chance to sit. Think about that.

4)      Bring a guest you know will appreciate it.

Just like every critic, museum professional, and member of the art community, you’ll have many a thing to say about the exhibit. And it’s much more fun when you and your guest can feed off each other’s comments, critiques, and insights/insults. Also, a sense of humor helps when dealing with all of the madness of the spectacle. Or when taking selfies with the sex doll art installations.

5)      Listen and/or people watch.

Again, people have a lot to say. And the art community is full of big personalities with tons of style. When you’re surrounded by it, embrace it. Take it in. And eavesdropping leads to a discovery of who’s who in the room.

6)      Be confident.

If you act like what you’re doing is exactly what you are supposed to be doing, no one will question it. So be an intern amongst the art elite, take selfies with the art, and drink all of the free wine.

Article by Taylor Zartman, NYAP participant and blogger.


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