THE BLOG
12/20/2013 11:18 am ET Updated Feb 19, 2014

Art Fair Pests Are Everyone's Problem

There were a hundred booths at the art fair and I could see this one guy walk into each one and leave with a spiteful look upon his face. He stuck out in a crowd, though, and an art fair crowd is one where every other person is desperately trying to stick out, be it through lavish jewelry, foot-torturing shoes or hairstyles that look like they are applied as animation cells.

What did this character do to stick out? Well, he was carrying a framed painting. At these affairs, many people are scurrying about with art in hand - often bubble-wrapped with a SOLD tag on it or coming out of the fair's on-site storage to replace sold work, the blue collar carriers weaving their way thru the crowds with ease, swiftly hauling large pictures that would cause anyone else to break a sweat after ten steps.

This guy, though, was different. He was cuddling this painting. Despite his schlocky fedora/sportscoat attempt at "dressing-up-yet-standing-out" he looked like a complete nut. Of course, the myth that artists are magical beings who are different than ordinary people gave him his bold righteousness. As he entered the fair booth next to mine I could see the look on his face. It was one that some might call determination. Others, though, might have seen anger and bitterness posing as resolve. That painting he clung to was like a lifeline, it was as if it was attached to a helicopter and he were hanging on to it for dear life.

Yep, he was an artist. Let's ignore the actual quality/content/intent of the painting to which he clung. It wasn't my cup of tea but you can imagine if you would like that it was a masterpiece. Because as much as he wanted it to be, the encounter that this story is leading up to is not about his art. And it is not even about him. It isn't about me, either. So the only one left for this tale to be about is YOU.

This man was walking around the art fair and belligerently confronting art dealers. Imagine if YOUR art was on the wall of a booth at the fair. A big collector walks by and is intrigued. Usually that is my cue to sell YOUR art to the buyer. But the Frame-Cuddler has me cornered in the booth, asking if I like his art, explaining why he thinks it would be great for my gallery and generally preventing me form moving away from this imposed conversation.

The collector lingers, looking at YOUR art while I tell the pest/artist I am not interested in his art. I am not polite and all it does is make him bolder. He starts to tell me I need to be educated to understand why he is a giant of art. The chance for me to sell YOUR art is ticking away, the seconds are like hours as I somehow look left and weave right, breaking free from the pest and his picture and turn to make my way across my gallery's art fair booth to the buyer, but oh... my charge forward is only to see the back of their designer clothing walking away... away form your art, away from my gallery's booth and on into to the fog that is the rest of the art fair.

The pest just moves on to another gallery across the aisle. His work is done. He ruined my sale. He ruined YOUR sale. And yet, somehow, some way, he remains the underdog and many casual observers will root for him. There is a romance in his narcissism, a dream to embrace in the casual glances of people-watchers. Something about his pathetic visage inspires everyone. Well, everyone but me... and hopefully now, YOU.