From light chat to Snapchat

Jonathan Grossmalerman, celebrated painter of vaginas, on how an artist generates forward momentum

By Jonathan Grossmalerman

Jonathan Grossmalerman

A museum curator is coming over for a studio visit and I’m hoping she’ll be very pleased with what I have planned for her.

You see, between you, me and the lamppost, it won’t really be much of a studio visit at all!

But rather a romantic candlelit dinner for two. Yes, that’s right! I am going to seduce a museum curator! I’m on a charm offensive with the artworld! A charm offensive!!!

My total artworld domination reboot shall succeed through the carefully combined effort of:

1 Appealing to the dark forces that have bound man to woman for millennia

2  My excellent new K2-inspired paintings of not anything in particular

I cannot believe it’s taken me so long to come up with this clever scheme! I know, I know... you’re probably thinking to yourself, “Isn’t this a bit beneath you, Jonathan Grossmalerman?”

Well, no. It isn’t.

Not if you’ve seen the news! The contemporary art market is softening as a whole and my own particular market is in absolute freefall! My Artist Index position is negligible and my Google Alerts have slowed to a trickle and mostly concern parking violations. Also, I’m beginning to believe the small Bushwick gallery that brought me back to the public’s notice (with an added hip quotient) has stolen all of my money! A suspicion buoyed by the fact they no longer answer their phone, inhabit their adorable bodega storefront space or appear anywhere on the Internet. Even the gallery director’s Tinder profile, once a hotbed of millennial hookups, is suddenly dormant. Word on the street is that the gallery now exists entirely on Snapchat... although I can’t verify that because I can’t seem to figure out how Snapchat actually works! I mean... I downloaded it onto my phone, but then what??

So that leaves me here, all by my lonesome! Looking out for no 1. Poor little old me.

But I’m no babe in the woods. It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there, and I’m playing for keeps! What I need is some sort of institutional support!

(And when I say some sort of institutional support I am of course referring to the museum institution sort, not the psychiatric institution sort.) Hence my special ‘date’.

You see, my clever plan hinges to a great extent on the first few pregnant moments.

I shall answer the door in my bathrobe and act as though I was certain we had scheduled the studio visit for another date. I even have the studio visit written down for the 12th in my datebook, despite that fact that today is the 11th. And the 11th is the day we actually scheduled the studio visit for... which I will then show her! Doubting herself, she will overlook the fact I am in nothing but a loosely fastened silk bathrobe and join me in the studio, where there happens to be a recently opened, chilled bottle of white Burgundy! I will compliment her ensemble and call it “sophisticated-looking”, place my hand on hers and say confidently, “Tell me about your day”, at which point I will studiously listen, eyes on her, fixed. None of that waning-interest stuff that generally derails this sort of thing! I won’t interrupt her with things that don’t pertain, or shout at her suddenly.

And when she’s finished telling me about her day... here comes the coup de grâce... I shall offer her a backrub! A BACKRUB!!

A little adult contemporary on the Bluetooth speaker and I should have a museum show within the year.

And not just any museum show. Not at the goddamned Ronkonkoma Community Museum (RNKMCM), the Wichita Museum of Contemporary Art (WCTMOCA) or the Cincinnati Center of Cultural Kreativity (CCOCK), which is really more of an abandoned mall than an actual museum.

No! We’re talking a real, first-class, grade-A museum show!

All I have to do is follow through on my plan to the letter. Give the best goddamned backrub of the century and Bob’s your uncle! Zam-boom. It’s all jazz hands and big smiles!

I was going to cook a cassoulet but I have such confidence in my backrub plan, I’m not even going to bother. I’ll just put out some chips or something. Maybe some salsa. Who really cares?

I mean, sometimes I even amaze myself with these clever little deceptions. Putting the appointment in on the wrong date in my calendar book is one of those details that pulls everything together. That’s where the magic of the chicanery makes itself evident. I ask you! Who else even comes up with stuff like that? It’s really too cute by half.

Of course, having written it in on the wrong date opens up other terrifying possibilities... like forgetting the actual date of the appointment. Which, come to think of it, I only really have a faint hunch is tonight. I should probably have written that down somewhere. Even if in secret. Like on a receipt in my wallet or in code on my fridge. I suppose actually that it’s possible I did. But I have no idea what the code was and I can’t discern anything from what’s written on these damn receipts. One says &7&SQL-222 Heseltine want teraz mil... What the fuck does that mean? Is it code? What could that possibly mean????

Oh, man! This could really be a problem. I can’t email her to check because then my whole plan goes to shit. I suppose I could simply sit and wait, but anyone who knows me knows I’m not really a sitting-and-waiting kind of guy!

I know! I’ll spend this time figuring out Snapchat. You see? Always moving forward! 


This article first appeared in the December 2016 issue of ArtReview