19 November 2009
Went to Vandalog RJ's Art opening last night at the Village Underground. It was awesome. Delicious Punk IPA, a Dave Symonds cameo and a MZA birthday kick-off meet-up. Best art show since the last one I went to.
And the art - the wide-open back alley arched redbrick warehouse was jammed with street art awesomeness. Just about every big name I know - Banksy, Swoon, Shep Fairey, Faile, Elbow Toe, Os Gemeos, Herakut, and a few others that were super striking up-close and well-lit: Adam Neate's piece, text artist Jenny Holzer's Inflammatory Essays, a Burning Candy mural on the wall outside... It was all delicious. Nice review here.
But with all the great art, and all the great friends it was easy to lose sight of the real highlight. The conversation with an Art Collector.
A middle-aged woman, a serious collector. No nonsense. Confident at a hip gallery opening, despite her appearance as someone who I'd expect to be behind in line at the supermarket. I thought motherly and out-of-place. She quickly turned my snap judgment back on me: it was I who was the outsider. She was fiercely passionate and well in the know.
She is an Art Collector. We were not. Nor artist, agent or otherwise engaged on the inside. But she was pleasant enough. Patient, even. She hadn't seen us around before. We were hovering around a piece by one of the Burning Candy collective, a guy she knew as Mo. I do not know Mo. We talked about the piece: spraypainted on faux-brick, framed on a gallery wall. She told me she was a collector, I asked her "of who?"
To my outsider mind, that's a logical next question, the one begging to be asked. To an insider, that is poor form. Do not discuss your own collection (I guess). She demurred. Strike One.
Chiara, Dave and I exchanged glances. We needed to step up our conversational game. This was no longer idle chat. This was Art Talk.
I tried again. "Your house must be awesome!" I offered, charming in my guilelessness, I thought wrongly. Strike Two.
The conversation carried on. Street art. Street art in the gallery. Transitory nature vs. preservation. Blowing up vs. keep it real. It shifted to some galleries and agents. I struggled to keep up, but we got through it.
Despite my gauche belief that an art collector might want to talk about her art collection we got along fine. And she taught me something. I've got homework to do. It's not enough to just know what I like. I've got some more knowing to do. It's called research.
And there's plenty of galleries and spots in East London. And according to Art Collector, this city will be packed with artists come December. Tis the season to keep my eyes peeled, my ears to the street, and my bike meanderings wide-ranging.
UPDATE: RJ has put up a summary on Vandalog. Bonus points if you find me, Chiara and Dave in the photo.