The Real Gallerinas of New York
Gopnik, Blake, Newsweek
Byline: Blake Gopnik
Can seven aspiring dealers teach the world about art?
A Martian, coming out of an alien-invasion movie: "Geez, they got everything wrong. My skin's purple, not green, and I'd never have that many eyes. And what's with those puny ray guns, anyway?"
That's how I felt, screening the first episodes of Gallery Girls, the new "reality" show from Bravo that launches Aug. 13 (and the network's "latest masterpiece," according to a modest press release). I've spent years living on planet art-world, and I couldn't see any trace of it in a program that's supposed to be set there.
The show follows seven 20-somethings as they try to make their way on the New York scene. Chantal and Claudia have actually opened a commercial space. Most of the others-Kerri, Liz, Amy, and Maggie-are interns, while Angela does "art" photography, and models with flowers covering her most private parts.
Reality Check No. 1: Chantal and Claudia's "commercial space" is actually a clothing store with '80s-style paintings on the wall. That's so low on the art-world totem pole, it's hardly in the art world at all. There are plenty of smart young things in the city who do open ambitious art galleries-but maybe Bravo couldn't get any of them to play ball.
This brings us to Reality Check No. 2: I said "smart young things"-which is what none of our protagonists show any signs of being. Your average intern at a major gallery has written an honors thesis on "Alterity and Othering in the Performative Self: 1963-1967." Whereas our Kerri's engagement with timeless aesthetic concerns extends to such statements as "I want to work with boutique hotels, but I don't have the art background."
A lot of the action around Liz (unbearable daughter of a major collector) and Maggie (the show's official underdog) takes place in a gallery called Eli Klein Fine Art, on West Broadway in SoHo-precisely where the art world hasn't been based for well over a decade. …