"Makes Me Not Want to Go to Work Tomorrow": Actual Art World People Respond to Bravo's "Gallery Girls"

The facepalm — a typical reaction to Gallery Girls
(Courtesy Dennis Lapets via Flickr)

Last night, the ARTINFO staff and 75 of our closest friends gathered together to learn a thing or two about the world in which we work. Bravo’s new reality show “Gallery Girls” follows seven young aspiring gallerinas as they intern and play, purporting to offer a peek inside the cutthroat New York art world. (If you missed it, read our recap here.) But just how closely did this reality show resemble reality?

To find out, we asked a handful of current and former gallery employees (and one intern) to assess the program’s authenticity. (You wouldn’t know it from the show, but men also work at galleries, so we asked a few of them, too.) We also polled our guests — some of whom had been offered parts on the show — with comment cards following the screening. Read all of their uncensored takes on “Gallery Girls” below.

What did you think of the show?

Real gallery employees say:

“Gallery Girls is going to be another awesome Bravo ‘reality’ show that has little to no basis in reality. I will admit it’s going to be my new favorite guilty pleasure watching these girls bicker and bitch, getting drunk and putting their feet in their mouths. It’s the best sort of train wreck.” — Emma Hall, sales associate, Haunch of Venison

“I had trouble discriminating between the programming and the Match.com ads.” — Benjamin Tischer, co-owner, Invisible-Exports

“I think the show is definitely Bravo doing what it does best: producing reality TV that is pure entertainment and drama while giving a window in to a world that's usually opaque.” — Natasha Rottman, formerly of Vanessa Buia Gallery, currently director of operations for Collectrium

“I'm holding out for the episode where they do a studio visit with Michael Heizer in the desert.” — Eric Gleason, director, Meulensteen Gallery

“Clearly, the art world and reality TV find very little 'mutually beneficial' territory (to quote the used car salesman-like dealer Eli Klein), so Bravo settled on two galleries that lie pretty far from the art world that most New Yorkers respect and participate in… That being said, the Bravo camera crews were uninterested in taking any focus off the show's dolled-up bunch to actually look at art, so perhaps any galleries more oriented towards art would be too distracting.” — Anonymous Chelsea gallery intern

Our guests say:

“Made me feel more confident about the job search”

“Makes me not want to go to work tomorrow.”

“It was terrible but Chantal’s eyebrows were beautiful”

Was it an accurate depiction of the art world?

Real gallery employees say:

“I fail to see what this show has to do with the art world at all. The Manhattanites are all eternal interns and the Brooklyners are flakey space cadets. I guess they have all caught on to the fact that the art world can be glamorous but they seem to have a complete disregard for the art part of the art world.” — Emma Hall

“That was about the art world? If so, where was James Franco?” — Benjamin Tischer

“The show accurately depicts what it's like for young women just starting out and how hard it can be to get past the 'unpaid internship' phase with their dignity intact.” — Natasha Rottman

“Personally, I've found the art world to be full of intelligent people who are earnest, interested in, and passionate about what they do. I've also encountered plenty of people who find a whole lot more in art than money and glamour, though those may unfortunately be dwindling ranks. The art world's a big place, so it's a matter of seeking out people who earnestly engage with it.” — Chelsea intern

Our guests say:

“Not my art world” — Brian Boucher, Art in America

“It’s like if Bravo made a show about the American healthcare system filmed on the Grey’s Anatomy soundstage.”

“Hopefully not.”

What was the least realistic part of the show?

Real gallery employees say:

“When Kerri landed an internship by introducing herself to an art advisor at an opening… obviously the Magic Elves helped with that one.” — Emma Hall

“Was there a line about how one can't dabble in Asian art? Cuz if so, I have seen it dabbled.” — Benjamin Tischer

“I would have to say that it seemed extremely unrealistic to me that there are no Chelsea galleries in the show or any focus on what still is the premier arts district of New York. If Upper East Side girls look down on Brooklyn girls, well Chelsea girls eat them all for breakfast!” — Natasha Rottman

“Making it in the art world involves lots of hard work (often including physical labor), and intelligence, tact, and optimism are actually usually seen as positive qualities.” — Chelsea intern

Our guests say:

“That Eli had two interns”

“No one name-dropped their senior art history thesis topic”

“The Brooklyn/Manhattan divide”

“Eli Klein’s hair gel.”

“Why do all these girls know each other?”

How long is too long to stay at an internship?

Our guests say:

“More than six months”

“1 year”

“Definitely 1.5 years”

“As long as that crazy girl has been at Eli Klein”

“Three years”

“If you have to ask…”

“6 mo and 1 day (paid) / 3 mo and 1 day (unpaid)”

Where do you stand on the Manhattan/Brooklyn divide?

Our guests say:

“There’s only two boroughs now?!!”  — Brian Boucher

“What divide? It’s a Bravo concoction”

“Williamsburg Bridge”

To view a slide show of our favorite comment cards from last night's "Gallery Girls" screening, click here