How to Gallery Hop
Here’s a scenario: it’s a Friday night, more specifically, the last Friday of the month. You’ve got no plans you want to see some art and contribute to this giant vacuum we call “life.” Congratulations, you’ve hit the jackpot! In Cincinnati, we’re fortunate to have a strong art scene that participates in Final Friday. Final Friday is the last Friday of the month that is punctuated by multiple galleries hosting openings at once and thus makes an ideal time for gallery hopping. Gallery hopping is essentially exactly how it sounds: you move from one gallery to the next and fill your entire night with good conversations, cheese-laden snacks, and excellent art.
While Final Friday—obviously— doesn’t happen every day, fear not! There’s still hope at finding art events without waiting until the end of the month. If you have a Facebook profile, it’s an excellent resource to have at your disposal for finding events. Simply go to the events tab, take a gander at what your friends are going to, or hit the “Discover” tab, and narrow results down by location, date and genre (in this case, you would select “art”).
If you don’t have a Facebook, there’s great event listings of programs performances, and exhibition openings in Cincinnati featured on independent local arts and issues weekly CityBeat’s website. [Editor’s note: as a longtime contributing writer for CityBeat’s weekly visual arts Staff Picks, those might be a good place to start!]
If all else fails, speak with another person interested in the arts and see if they have any recommendations. Invest in forming relationships with people who regularly attend gallery events. Having friends around offers a no-pressure-experience for talking about art and alleviating some of the normal social anxiety of mingling at an art opening while alone.
Here’s a handy list of some spaces that regularly host art events (& more) in Cincinnati:
So, you’ve found a rad event, but none of your pals are as jazzed as you are to go out and see some art. You have two options:
1. Venture out into the unknown alone, potentially having a great time and making some new connections by introducing yourself to new people. Or…
2. Reach out to someone you’ve maybe only talked to twice, but you know might dig the same kind of art that you do (and they don’t totally seem to be a serial killer,) so no loss and only gain.
Regardless, pick your party, or don’t.
Before leaving your house to become an art viewing superstar, start planning a handy carpool for your night to ride on smoothly, and make sure you’re leaving your sweats at home. There’s no need for a ball gown for most openings, but tidy up a little. Comb your hair, brush your teeth, and maybe a clean set of clothes to head out in. While you might not be charging out there to make new friends, you’re still making an impression to the average crowds that will slowly begin to recognize you, if you keep hanging out in these spaces.
Once you’ve made it to your final destinations of the evening, relax and have some fun!. When it comes to etiquette at a gallery, the number one thing to keep in mind is curbing any potentially unfavorable comments about pieces in the show. You never know if the artist is mingling around you, or even the curator.
While criticisms are necessary and thinking critically about art is important, just be aware of your surroundings and maybe save certain conversations for the car ride home, or to the next space. Learning how to constructively critique is a skill, and betters your own artistic practice. Think about it this way: You can start by considering, why something isn’t favorable to you, and how it could potentially be bettered? Though keep in mind, silence often speaks as loud as negative comments but, it is also seen as being much more polite.
Remember new spaces can be intimidating, however, everyone has been the new kid at one time or another. If you want to become involved with the art scene in your city, your first time being in any place is inevitably going to be a little uncomfortable at first. But eventually, you will fall in step with your surroundings, make quick friends and find your own niche, in a scene you felt like you were looking at from afar.
Written by Macartney Greer.