Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Alcohol at Openings : Open thread

We've discussed not serving alcohol at our openings at the gallery for a number of reasons. While in Brooklyn, the main problem was police ticketing our guests who wandered outside with their beverage and talked on the sidewalk. Once they nearly ticketed a high-profile New York art critic, much to my horror, but just before they got to jot down his details, they were called away to some more pressing matter. We posted increasingly alarming notices about the ticketing at our openings, as well, but invariably the police would show up and two or three people would get a fine.

That's not been an issue since we moved to Chelsea (knock on wood), but we've still considered ending the practice (and serving just water or soda). Technically, in most places, I believe, an art gallery is supposed to attain a permit to serve alcoholic beverages anyway, which very few do, and so by not serving any we'd be less open to any problems there. There was a time back in Brooklyn where collectively we galleries approached our city council members to discuss whether that legislation was truly written for spaces that offered free beverages to a small contingent of technically invited guests and only about once every 5 weeks or so, and somehow (I didn't attend the meetings) the police stopped ticketing spaces for not having permits (although they kept ticketing folks for drinking on the sidewalks).

Another reason we discuss not serving alcohol, though, is that abuse of the gesture by guests can really get on your nerves some times. Bambino noticed at one of our recent openings that a guest who kept stacking his plastic cups for each round of wine he was drinking was carrying around 7 of them stacked together. Forget the fact that seven half glasses of wine means he was just getting silly drunk on our dime; what an un-green thing to do when our gallery is perfectly happy to refill a glass.

Of course, in the overall scheme of things, these are petty annoyances, and not really worth much discussion, but I bring them up in light of the news that East Hampton police initiated a crackdown on the practice over the holiday weekend, and the local tabloids have had a field day with the resulting fracas. From the New York Post:
The owner of a high-end East Hampton gallery went from hosting a famed photographer's opening to being dragged from it kicking and screaming during a surprise crackdown on liquor-laced art shows on the East End.

"The police out here have nothing to do, so they come bother our galleries," Ruth Kalb, 67, fumed yesterday, a day after cops busted her soiree and dragged her out in front of 300 stunned guests, saying she didn't have permits to serve alcohol or hold a gathering.

"They came in here with all their muscles. They needed someone to fight," said the eccentric art purveyor, known by her gallery's name, Vered.

Kalb said she told the cops: "I've been serving liquor at my openings before you were born. So don't tell me to stop now."

Kalb was slapped with the summons at around 9 p.m. Saturday after chasing away the first two cops on the scene.
Later, however, Vered [seen above] had her position on the issue validated by the Police of neighboring village Southampton:
The East Hampton art dealer busted for serving wine at her posh gallery has found an unlikely ally just one ritzy ZIP code away - the cops in Southampton.

Southampton Police Sgt. Darren Gagnon said yesterday that his East Hampton counterparts went way overboard when they hauled off 67-year-old Ruth Kalb in handcuffs Saturday night because she was serving her 300 well-heeled guests liquor at the opening of a photo exhibit.

"It's like serving alcohol in your house - no big deal," Gagnon said. "I can't believe they [East Hampton cops] did that. That's crazy.
I would agree that it should be seen as like serving alcohol in your house. I really can't imagine the original law was designed to control or close down a two-hour art opening reception that happens every 5-6 weeks, so I agree with Vered who summarized the East Hampton police's actions as motivated out of boredom.

Then again, as they say, all publicity is good publicity, and Vered has received so much more press for this incident than her new exhibition would likely have gotten had she not been arrested, so....

When I've discussed the question of serving only nonalcoholic beverages at openings, I get an overwhelming "thumbs down" on the idea from friends and colleagues. The most rational of reasons offered tend to focus on the notion that it's a highly artificial gathering of strangers often, and a little libation goes a long way toward making everyone feel more comfortable. Then again, I attend other gallery openings without drinking their booze all the time (OK, so this is my profession and perhaps I not the best test case), but I will admit to appreciating a prop to handle when mingling and having the edge of my day taken off.

The other reason for not serving alcohol, of course, is the expense. We serve a remarkably drinkable wine (many galleries serve wine with a taste you'd only expect to find in a bottle under the kitchen sink), but get it for a good price. As a businessman, though, I do sometimes wonder what the impact of not serving it might be on our bottom line. I know galleries that don't serve any at their main opening receptions, and they seem to be selling art like there is no tomorrow.

Consider this an open thread on drinking at openings and whether the practice is outdated.

Labels: ,

66 Comments:

Blogger Tyler said...

I, for one, would like to see drinking in comments threads.

5/27/2008 09:01:00 AM  
Blogger Donna Dodson said...

presumably folks are coming to openings in order to
1) see the art/buy the art/write about the show/blog about the art
2) meet the artists/curators and network/make business contacts
3) be entertained/be part of the event/imbibe alcohol and food
if it's the other way around then i dont see what the artist and gallery or museum get out of the work and expense to host openings
except a reputation for entertaining fools...

5/27/2008 09:25:00 AM  
Blogger CAP said...

It's become such a custom now, trying to change it could just make you an outcast. But as usual it's the people that abuse the hospitality that are the problem, rather than the hospitality itself.

If only there were a way of designing openings that excluded assholes...

5/27/2008 09:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It boils down to this: If you offer wine, people will drink it. If you don't, people won't. The real issue at hand here is the cost to you. If the wine were free for you would you have an issue with some carrying a stack of empties? I have never seen anyone get ticketed in Chelsea for drinking on the sidewalk unless they were completely unruly. And that in itself is a rarity in a social setting that prides itself on it's proper image and behavior (unless its art). So really its the cost. If it bothers you to pay for someone else's buzz, then don't do it. I can't see anyone shunning your openings for that.

5/27/2008 09:40:00 AM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

Then I'd never be allowed in!

I don't really drink alcohol, and on those rare occasions when I do I don't drink wine, so I never drink at openings. I've seen openings where they serve beer -- Pabst Blue Ribbon seems to have been the popular one, but Inka's opening had Newcastle -- but not too many, and anyway beer's not my favorite, either.

At your openings, Ed, Bambino has always been gracious enough to get me water. The last time he pulled it from your private stash, too, and I couldn't express how grateful I was. I don't know if you've reached the point where you dislike me yet, and I know we have our differences of opinion, but Bambino is still my favorite person in Chelsea. He always makes me happy to be there.

So I'd say you could stop serving alcohol as long as you kept him around.

5/27/2008 09:41:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

I, for one, would like to see drinking in comments threads.

Just cause you can't see me, doesn't mean I'm not drinking! ;-)

e

So I'd say you could stop serving alcohol as long as you kept him around.

Bambino is nature's perfect intoxicating agent, I'd agree.

As I noted in the post, the so-called "asshole" guests are not really a big issue, but when you add up the occassional abuse, the potential for fines, the expense, and the questionable pay-off, I do understand those galleries that stop serving alcohol.

We have no plans just yet to stop (I can hear the artists with upcoming shows sigh in relief from here ;-)), but I don't think the notion that it's so much a part of the custom that stopping would make me an outcast is true actually. I think I'd lose a certain contingent, but possible gain another, at our openings.

My problem, of course, is that as I'm closing up after an opening, I like to have a drink myself, so ...

5/27/2008 09:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i wouldn't stop serving alcohol since it's not a 'dry business' to go to a gallery opening, to have a glass of wine (or beer?) while chatting with people feels a lot better to many people. why turn the opening to a serious business meeting?

5/27/2008 09:50:00 AM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

Anon sez:
have never seen anyone get ticketed in Chelsea for drinking on the sidewalk unless they were completely unruly.

The wonderful folks of the NYPD once blocked my parked car with their command post (a patrol car) from which they issued forth and began giving out citations to everyone on the block. It was a crowded night but nowhere near unruly.

I think it's a fundraising activity.

5/27/2008 09:50:00 AM  
Blogger Anna L. Conti said...

Add to the list of problems with free booze at openings: damage to artwork when drunks start dropping drinks (it's amazing how far and wide a half glass of wine can splash.) I've witnessed it at two openings.

My suggestion would be to woo the guests away from alcohol, rather than just cutting them off. Only provide one, very cheap white wine, but also offer some kind of fancy, non-alcoholic mixed drink. Give the new drink a seductive name, and keep it in line with the theme of the show. Each show gets its own signature drink.

Try it for a few shows and see if the alcohol intake goes down.

5/27/2008 09:50:00 AM  
OpenID ericgelber said...

Stop serving alcohol and bolster your bottom line.

5/27/2008 09:51:00 AM  
Blogger Donna Dodson said...

i agree- there is also a community function to offering the hospitality and hosting the social gathering...
but some galleries have private after parties where they serve buffet food and nice drinks- so i suppose that is an idea- to serve non-alcoholic beverages at the larger public opening and booze at a private vip event at the gallery for your guests

5/27/2008 09:56:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

If the wine were free for you would you have an issue with some carrying a stack of empties?

Yes, actually. It's honestly the waste of cups that really bothered us, and what that symbolizes.

We're actually implementing a firmer "refill" policy. Perhaps writing people's initials on the cups, I don't know. But after a while it truly becomes obscene to see that much waste in the space of time you have an opening. It's not like a party where folks hang around for 5 hours. It's consumption approaching a revolting rate, and it's hard to ignore. I mean, we could implement using paper cups, I suppose (although wine out of paper isn't as pleasant as wine out of plastic), and perhaps be a little greener, but 7 plastic cups? At what point would it dawn on such a person that they were abusing the planet?

5/27/2008 09:58:00 AM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

I'd also like to point out, if you need alcohol to loosen up, you're pretty pathetic.

5/27/2008 10:00:00 AM  
Blogger Kate said...

I once had an opening at a university museum where someone threw up on the DuBuffet sculpture outside. After that day, they started serving the wine in excessively small cups. The result was that it was not really worth it to fight the crowd and keep returning for another thimbleful.

5/27/2008 10:02:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

I'd also like to point out, if you need alcohol to loosen up, you're pretty pathetic.

Just like Old Faithful, you are, Chris...back to your old sweeping and boisterous generalizations. :-)

It's not a matter of "need" as much as desire for most people. A drink is enjoyable. The resulting loosening up merely a fringe benefit.

5/27/2008 10:08:00 AM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

Kate sez:
...someone threw up on the DuBuffet sculpture outside...

...and improved it!

Ed sez:
...a little libation goes a long way toward making everyone feel more comfortable...

It's not a matter of "need" as much as desire for most people.

Well, if drinking alcohol makes you more comfortable, I'd say you're a sad, sad person.

Now, if you were handing out bongs at your openings, that'd be something else.

5/27/2008 10:12:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have a donation receptable at the door towards Tara Donovan's next sculpture.

5/27/2008 10:13:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, if they stopped letting sad pathetic people in to openings, it would be a very slim crowd.

5/27/2008 10:15:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Have a donation receptable at the door towards Tara Donovan's next sculpture.

LOL!

5/27/2008 10:15:00 AM  
Blogger George said...

FYI

The police ARE ticketing people for walking on the street with 'open containers' of alcohol in Chelsea.

The fine is $25.

5/27/2008 10:18:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Speaking of plastic and the planet, a teen science fair participant seems to have made big progress on how to deal with plastic. [via Sullivan]:

"Plastic takes thousands of years to decompose -- but 16-year-old science fair contestant Daniel Burd made it happen in just three months.

The Waterloo, Ontario high school junior figured that something must make plastic degrade, even if it does take millennia, and that something was probably bacteria."

5/27/2008 10:39:00 AM  
Blogger Pretty Lady said...

I'm shocked at your business management skills, Ed. It is a well-known fact that people buy more art when they're drunk. They also write friendlier reviews and bring more friends, thus creating a hipper, livelier 'buzz' around the space, egging on the collectors and the reviewers. Teetotalling openings are for self-righteous non-profits.

Also, the profiteering police state is something to be staunchly resisted, not meekly capitulated to.

5/27/2008 11:13:00 AM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

I think offering bong hits is the ideal solution.

For me it doesn't matter if Im drunk so much as if I get high. I can get high by drinking coffee and writing or looking at art or making art or by smoking pot or by drinking or by all three. It doesn't matter and there is no hierarchy in my mind but one does fuel the other; It's called synergy by marketing types.

SOme people like crystal meth, that's great, but it leads to delusions and possibly suicide.

Other people like Coke and liquid extasy, which leads to nasty foaming heart attacks.

Like pumping oxygen into the casino or piling coke up next to a pool. Drugs make things a little friendlier.

I'm not a puritan but I know that looking for the high is destructive and probably masks/eliminates/enhances inadequacies, social and otherwise. For me small talk is like holding in a giant crap. Too much too soon. Small talk while drunk is like painful elimination. Kind of a rush.

Caging drinks off of haughty gallery assistants is like chewing niocorette. I could take it or leave it, I don't smoke. To some people it's a provokation; In an art world that conspicuously consumes, there is relatively little in the way of noblesse oblige, and for anyone who has seen IT, the return on investment (ROI) does diminish, though perhaps that is a jaded POV (point of view).

Very few people see even half of what is going on in Chelsea.

My solution - BYOB coffee or weed. I guess not everyone can afford that though, its a bit declasse and also kind of williamsburg (Talkin' Turkey!) to haul out a fourty, puke in the street or light up a blunt (cops are everywhere).

But really, why go out to drink?

Why look at art at openings?

Why look at art you don't like?

But what is the alternative? Invite people to a boring show in the off season with nothing but a cheese plate? that is no way to start a dialogue.

Honestly I tried to drag someone to Winkleman gallery and they would have none of it. Why?

Because Winkleman Gallery wasn't good enough.

5/27/2008 11:32:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Honestly I tried to drag someone to Winkleman gallery and they would have none of it.

Ahh, what's the matter, Zippy? No new-born puppies within kicking distance this morning?

Please tell your friend that we change the exhibitions at the gallery regularly, and that if the last one they saw (assuming their opinion is based on an actual visit) wasn't to their liking, perhaps the next one will be.

There's really not much more I can offer in response to your kind comment than that, though.

5/27/2008 11:54:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Zipthwung needs a coffee enema after reading that silly diatribe.

Your gallery rocks Edward. Maybe Zippy ought to put his money where his mouth is and open one himself or is all that weed making him too lethargic?

Oh, and long live a glass of decent red wine at art openings!

Ondine-NYC

5/27/2008 12:04:00 PM  
Blogger kalm james said...

Personally I like the idea of breaking the law and standing a chance of getting busted, although it’s not $25 it’s $80. (I also encourage fireworks and public urination). This is the kind of risk that makes for exciting gallery crawling, and great war stories. Last month I was at an opeinig in the ‘burg that had three people arrested and handcuffed right in front of the gallery. Dumb me I didn’t get video of it.

Ruth Kalb can’t buy this kind of press, drink up folks.

5/27/2008 12:26:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

I like openings where only a select few get glasses, or where the glasses run out after the first ten, or where there are stacks and stacks of cups, like a million, but no water or wine. Or lots and lots of toothpicks but no olives or martini glasses. Or tons of candy but no soda pop. Or a block of chocolate you have to gnaw on. Or a party where the only way you know about it is a coffee table book, you were not invited. Or parties where you have to know someone and even then you might not get in because there is a guest list. Or parties where there is another more exclusive party upstairs, and then theres one more, but sfter that you are on your own, becasue the aprty is so small that you might not even get in, even though no one is there.

Like the coffee enema party. Or one where I drive around in a car with a spiked hood ornament.

5/27/2008 12:30:00 PM  
Blogger Joanne Mattera said...

I see Zippy's been bonging Ecstasy. Or maybe snorting the bong?

I show at a gallery out of own where on the Thursday night opening, which is a semi-private affair with food, there's good wine--but on the free-for-all neighborhood Friday opening, only soda and sparkling water are served. This latter keeps the intoxication level down, and since there's nothing for the traveling drinkers to consume--the ones there for the booze, not the art--they move on.

As for wine having quite a splash radius, that's true. Just ask the artist whose unframed work on paper got royally doused with red wine.

In general, I have no problem with just water and soda being served. But, of course, I do have a huge problem authorities saying it cannot be served.

5/27/2008 12:40:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

Or a tea party without tea, and little cups and dolls. Or a party where everyone listens to someone talk aout a book they read for an hour and then they all get together and have doughnuts and decide where to spend their money so they will comfortably forever. Or parties with games like move to the left all at once for a month or so (while the party lasts, no one likes an endless party).

Or parties where everyone has their own refilable mug with homeade coffee and they all drive out to a parking lot and sit there for an hour or two with the engine idling.

Or parties where you go and buy photographs but also there are games like talking about where you were for the last five months, which is fun if you were vacationing in the same place, because what are the odds?

5/27/2008 12:42:00 PM  
OpenID ericgelber said...

"Stop serving alcohol and bolster your bottom line."

Let me rephrase this. Ed you should do whatever is best for the business, whatever will help it to continue to exist. I would imagine that any business in Manhattan that is not rolling in the dough is a fragile thing. Especially nowadays. The main issue should be this. If the wine is costly and the business will not be impacted by the removal of it from the opening galas, then get rid of it.

5/27/2008 12:49:00 PM  
Blogger David said...

Sounds like Brooklyn and the Hamptons need some real criminals, so the police will have something useful to do. We could send them some from Los Angeles if Manhattan isn't willing to share theirs.

As far as cost, do you have Trader Joe's in NYC? The Yellowtail Cab/Syrah blend is great, and it's only about $5 or $6 a bottle.

5/27/2008 01:35:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

James,

It's $25, trust me on that. If you got nicked for $80, you were doing something else.

Also, if you send the $25 in within the time limit, there's a good chance the court will return the check.

5/27/2008 01:37:00 PM  
Blogger Oly said...

I witnessed a woman put her glass of red wine down on a wooden sculpture once. Clueless people. I think she thought it was a drink stand. Smart one, huh?

Ed, I don't think there's a problem with having a 2-3 mandated drink shutoff point. After drinking that many, they're just totally taking advantage of your generosity as a gallery owner.

The bartender would probably know someone after 4 refills. 7 is just outrageous!

I've now witnessed several galleries have to refuse rowdy customers any more drinks, as well as being escorted out.

Oly

5/27/2008 01:56:00 PM  
Blogger mbuitron said...

What would Jackson Pollock do?

5/27/2008 02:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was at an opening at St. Ann's warehouse in DUMBO lasta weekend and the security guard at the door wouldn't let me walk outside with a paper cup of apple juice. She said, "the police can't tell it's apple juice and might ticket you." I didn't want to start a fight with the guard over such a puny issue, but those must be some dumb cops.

Oriane

5/27/2008 02:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

http://www.phillyblog.com/philly/old-city-society-hill/56469-first-friday-beneficial.html

5/27/2008 02:27:00 PM  
Blogger Carol Diehl said...

Serving wine is a way of marking the opening as a celebration, one the artist and gallery deserve as a reward for their hard work. But I believe in not doing anything unless you can do it well, so if you're going to have wine, make it a decent one!

I rarely drink wine at openings (although maybe I would if it were better) and am surprised at how many galleries don't have water (or enough water) available.

5/27/2008 03:04:00 PM  
OpenID artphile said...

Stop serving alcohol and bolster your bottom line.

Instead of serving free drinks, I think you should offer a free bottle of wine with every piece you sell.

I'd also like to point out, if you need alcohol to loosen up, you're pretty pathetic.

I normally don't need to drink to loosen up, but if you're there Chris, I'm sure I would make an exception. :)

5/27/2008 03:12:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

I agree, I probably go better with alcohol. Not for me, but anyone within earshot.

My big problem with most openings is not so much the drinks but what to do with the cups afterward. (I always have them refill my cup if I go back for seconds.) I've wandered around many a gallery looking for a place to leave my cup that isn't just a windowsill or a work of art. (Although I'd note if your sculpture can't be easily discriminated from a drink stand, you're in the wrong business.) A simple trash can would be wonderful -- but then maybe people would think it was part of the installation. Hard to tell in these dim, dark days. Anyway, many times I end up leaving with the cup in my pocket (I have big pockets, in case I find a sculpture I like) and disposing of it somewhere else. I hate the idea of just leaving my litter somewhere in the room for some minion to pick up.

This is not a problem at Ed's gallery, of course, but at other more stuffy places.

5/27/2008 03:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Water and diet pepsi is fine by me. Just don't get those little bottles and compound the problem.

Getting a buzz at the openings was a must when we didn't have any money. You started there and took it to a bar after. Times change. And young artists now days are boring. Not worth drinking with.

5/27/2008 05:29:00 PM  
Blogger Donna Dodson said...

openings are admittedly more social than otherwise in that they are often busy, crowded occasions and it's not usually the best time to see the art or talk to the artist or gallery owner/curator beyond a meet & greet and if alcohol makes that happen, then that is good, but if it prevents that from happening, then that is bad- i usually dont drink anything other than water, sparkling mineral water or seltzer but i know some people really enjoy the whole scene of art openings and schmoozing and a small glass of wine or a beer or two can help them be 'on' or relax but i have also seen people drink so much they slur their words, become intoxicated and pass out which makes me feel like they are fans at best or party crashers at worst- i've also seen people light up a joint and get lit on some weed in back rooms- which is kind of embarassing because it is usually a mixed crowd of people who dont know each other well and the social 'norms' arent very clear

5/27/2008 05:36:00 PM  
Anonymous James in BCN said...

Greetings from a country where drinkable wine can be less expensive than common bottled water - Spain. Don't listen to these "buzz" sissies. Serve your guests as decent of a wine as you feel comfortable serving economically and regard any "glass stackers" as pathetic slugs who have a drinking problem. Take whatever action you must with those people, but don't deprive the rest of your guests of your sumptuous generosity of a simple, tasty glass of culture that we have been sharing for centuries. Santé! James

5/27/2008 05:43:00 PM  
OpenID ericgelber said...

I don't think anyone would be stupid enough to suggest that drinking some wine at an art opening isn't a tradition but if it is hurting the bottom line, turning black into red so to speak, and if it leads to headaches and suppressed rage on the part of the gallery staff consistently, than it should be dropped from the program. Of course no one expects to look at art during an opening. That is why I never go to them, but I am bad at networking. If wine helps the business in abstract or subtle ways than continue the tradition by all means, but make sure the person serving the liquor makes it clear to all of the numb-nuts who are getting refills left and right that they have reached the cut-off point for plastic cups and/or booze.

5/27/2008 06:17:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

Eric sez:
Of course no one expects to look at art during an opening.

Crap, I've been doing it wrong! Well, lately I haven't been doing it at all.

5/27/2008 07:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Matt said...

Do you remember this from a few years' ago?

http://www.thevoiceofreason.com/RealFunnyNews/2006/15AllYouCanDrinkMartinis.htm

5/27/2008 07:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Matt said...

Sorry - link didn't work. There was a Clear Channel "all you can drink" martini party at the newly-reopened Milwaukee Museum of Art. But the party soon degenerated into a drunken riot with people passing out, vomiting, shoving each other, and then four guys climbed onto a bronze sculpture named Standing Woman, by 20th-century American artist Gaston Lachaise. This was in the brand-new Santiago Calatrave designed wing.

5/27/2008 07:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No one looks. True. It's social and status. For friends of the artist and others.

Like I said, not worth it anymore. Now I get invited to the after party, an I arrive accordingly, at the end of the opening. Plenty of booze. The inner circle rules like everywhere else.

Galleries that can have both are at the top.

Don't hate me because I tell the truth.

5/27/2008 07:44:00 PM  
Blogger Eben said...

Check out the exclusive video at Vered gallery at Plum TV (which I happened to shoot).

http://hamptons.plumtv.com/videos/gallery_owner_arrested

5/27/2008 07:54:00 PM  
OpenID ericgelber said...

"Well, lately I haven't been doing it at all."

There is a reason for this.

5/27/2008 08:55:00 PM  
Blogger Aaron Wexler said...

Beer and wine go hand n' hand with openings.
I think it's just the way things go. I hope it doesn't change. If it's a question of wasting the plastic (or broken glass) or $$$... You could charge a bit.
Moti Hasson charges a couple of bucks for a good beer or small drink. It seem to work out okay. People are a little more responsible when they have to put a little in to get some back. I also like when galleries get a booze sponsor to cover the opening libations.
If you'd like to take a break from offering beer at an opening, I suggest an 'ice cream social'.

5/27/2008 09:19:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

The Boy Scouts traditionally grills hamburgers and hotdogs, and gives out cans of soda, at our town's Family Fun Day. (Yes. Ten miles outside of New York City and we have Family Fun Days.) For several years now we've charged a nominal amount -- 75 cents or a dollar -- for a hamburger and soda, not to make money, but just to keep it from being free. If it's free, people take way too much and it ends up getting thrown away. If it costs something, even very little, people only take a bit more than they want or need, and much less ends up wasted.

So maybe you should institute a cash bar. A nickel a cup! Of course, who would have cash on hand at a gallery opening? The only reason I get hamburgers and soda at Family Fun Day is I'm working the stand.

5/27/2008 09:52:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

Selling alcohol requires a permit. Operating an establishment with a name like Pace's Place or Marky Mark's Market or Winkleman's Absynthe Lounge without a permit is a crime, probably at least a 3,000 dollar one.

In my in crowd we go to the secret room with the stuffed fowl to talk about Kundalini Yoga over a meal of endangered species steaks. Or watch TV. make art, and chillax. Whatever floats your boat, you know? Might eat some shrooms, fart art, blog, think aobut how nothing lasts, the meaninglessness of this, the banality of evil, decadence, status games, moral bankruptcy, arrogance, beer, more beer, the horror, more horror, the end, the end.

and yes I do remember the museum puke fest in the midwest. And people said that was bad. For shame!

Any rosatia fetishists out there tonight?

5/27/2008 11:09:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

or should I up the fantasy level?

5/27/2008 11:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let the people drink!

PV

5/28/2008 12:04:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember paying for my beer in Williamsburg.

5/28/2008 12:26:00 AM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

I paid for a beer in chelsea last month. Shhhh don't tell anyone.

5/28/2008 01:43:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Zip, I meant at the old gallery dear....

5/28/2008 01:46:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When Gavin Brown had his space on 15th Street he solved the problem by incorporating a full bar (Passerby) with liquor license into the gallery. This not only avoided prosecution, but forced attendees to BUY their booze. After all, while you might expect to get a free glass of plonk in a gallery, you can not expect the same treatment in a bar. Bars SELL booze, that's why they exist.

This allowed GB to be both "cool" and a skinflint. Why waste money serving drinks to all the art driftwood when as proprietor of your own bar you can choose who gets the free drinks -- your friends, your customers, the people you need to suck up to.

5/28/2008 07:03:00 AM  
Blogger christopherlee said...

All politicians are the nerds you went to high school with. Cabaret laws, no alcohol at art openings, this is what happens when geeks make laws. Next time vote for an athlete, rock star or someone from the arts or theater crowd..these were the cool people.

5/28/2008 10:42:00 AM  
Anonymous ben said...

I enjoy going to art openings where there's a bit of alcohol. However, i've become quite frustrated with the art-school-kid contingent that tends to crowd the well boozed openings - not because of their antics, but because it becomes difficult to view the work on display. Often times these openings are a room filled with hipsters talking to one another just six inches in front of the work.

Makes for a "fun" vibe, but i can't imagine it's good for selling or seeing the work.

5/28/2008 03:57:00 PM  
Anonymous shaun said...

There are now clear cups available made of a corn based material, and are compostable, so you can keep the nice looking wine cups, and be green at the same time.

5/30/2008 09:40:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

thanks for the tip, Shaun

any idea of who sells them or a brand name?

5/30/2008 09:46:00 AM  
Blogger joy said...

get your corn cups!

($$$?)

5/30/2008 09:56:00 AM  
Blogger John Hovig said...

'corn cups' are made of a plastic called PLA. searching on amazon.com for 'pla cups' turned up this 1000-pack from a company called Jaya for about $140 (14c each). now all you need is a compost pile.

5/30/2008 10:25:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If she was BLACK, the police would have shot her entitled ugly white ass 50 times.

6/01/2008 12:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Lewis LaCook said...

May I suggest Alice Toklas Brownies?

...eh, maybe they take too long to metabolize????

6/02/2008 03:32:00 AM  

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