Wednesday, March 26, 2008

confidence crushers

In a previous post we were discussing confidence crushers.

I once directed a gallery in a beautiful building. The super of this building seemed nice and accommodating at first. You need a mail slot? You got one. Yes, we will build a wall there, no problem.

Then one day as I was painting the walls, he made a comment on my “painting outfit.” I sluffed it off, just like I was trained to do. Then another day he came up and tried to touch whatever I was wearing and I flinched away. Sort of a natural reaction at this point.

The opening of the gallery had gone so well, a true success. Still, the next day, when I had to arrange a phone line, I had to ask this super when he might be there in the building, as Qwest had dealt with him many times before.

"Yes, you should be there at some point. Sitting in a certain position. I could put you in the right position -- maybe we can try a few out."

You can be the Director of an establishment and still be treated like a whore. It would get to the point that he rarely looked into my eyes, but elsewhere.

Mind, then there would be a time when he would briskly breeze into the gallery and talk only business, just the facts - and so the sexual remarks, coming at another time and sometimes out of nowhere, can take you unaware. Being nice didn't help. Or being just plain businesslike. Ignoring didn't help - red lights look oddly green to those who want to see it that way.

These kinds of things can take a big bite out of confidence, and a sense of real victory. It is very difficult to feel like you are truly moving forward, even when you know how good the game is going. I actually ended up crying one night about it .... someone reading this now may think that it’s no big deal... but it wasn’t the first time. It was too much like being a peon salesgirl in New York City, powerless save for the beauty people were happy to interpret as the best and speediest currency.

- But I was now nearly 50 and running the show. I didn’t really have the time to personally bring this man into the 20th century, but that is just what I had to do. The main reason I am thinking about this now is the current fallout with Elliot Spitzer and how the adage was quoted: “the most powerful people in the world are old white men and beautiful young women.” For me, it took time and distance. Not only am I no longer at that job, but neither is he.

4 comments:

harold hollingsworth said...

I worked for a rather prominent person in the art world in these parts a few years ago. He would say things to me that took me by surprise, like, "Harold, did you know you have a swimmers body", or, "I could arrange for you to see some friends of mine, quite powerful people in the art world who would find you very attractive". Now mind you, he had a boyfriend, a gallery dealer of some note, and he wanted to pimp me out after work. It was the kind of thing that kept me away from the scene here for sometime, and I still have a hard time going into his boyfriends gallery, and not thinking that, what goes on behind these walls and scenes that we all play or show around...

Anonymous said...

Sounds familiar....there are definitely casting couch curators, Harold. One guy put me in some group shows in NYC. Then he made a move and when that didn't pan out for him, he never curated me into anything again.
Eva

Baby said...

poignant post, as always....

and cuts to the core. (when i see you next, we'll TOOO-AWK)

i'm still learning the game and trying to out smart the fucking spitzer's of the world....

Calvin Ross Carl said...

I can think of no other word besides "dirtbag."