Dedicated to Valentine’s Day
Men in New York are fairly lucky; it’s a pretty classy town, once you get past the pollution. Men in New York, average men, can date models. In Las Vegas, you get showgirls and in Los Angeles, you get starlets.
And in Chicago: “It’s a representation of my vagina. In another world, it would have been a vibrant violet, and saccharine.”
“Oh. I see. Well… um… it’s a wonderful painting.”
The female artist.
Perhaps it is one of the many ways this less commercial city has screwed its men over. At least a showgirl is likely to be some sort of pretty. Artists are not necessarily pretty. They just make pretty (which actually is not necessarily the case either, anymore). However, the overly imaginative hippie is not the only crisis men in Chicago’s art community must deal with. Besides, I try not to generalize. I am smart enough, however, to know that in the city, amongst pretentious artists and within the heart of atypical peculiarity, lies classic romance…dead.
Mickey Carter’s Art of Getting Screwed Over
Art school in Chicago is a unique experience; unlike a big university, sports teams and clubs are derisory, academic classes are merely prerequisites that create insignificant side stresses, and romance, well, what can a man at art school say about romance?
“Love doesn’t exist in art school,” says an undergrad at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. “Orgies do.”
Obviously, the dating environment of the Chicago art community has disturbed this man. Let’s call him “Mickey Carter.”
“I met the first girl I dated in Chicago on Valentine’s Day,” he says. “She was in the painting and drawing department. She’d pose for my work, I’d pose for hers. It would almost always led to sex. I thought I was in love. I mean, come on. We met on Valentine’s Day.
And then? “During a class critique, some other guy, who I thought for sure was gay, presented his work. It was a photograph of the two, practically fucking. She claimed to have been a sexually independent spirit who believed in free love. Or something. And then I think she turned into a winged unicorn and flew away.”
Love at the Galleries
I attended a gallery opening in the West Loop. “What are you doing?” says a woman to her boyfriend, a showing artist at the gallery. “How dare you! Don’t you ever do that again!” I asked him what he did. “I was gazing into her eyes.”
Who gazes anymore? City people can tell who the visiting couples are because they will usually be the ones in each other’s arms or holding hands. We hate them. We hate hearing people call each other “baby” or “honey.” It makes us sick to see couples gaze into each other’s eyes. It exasperates us to no end when they tell their significant other, “I haven’t seen you all day,” over the phone. It just isn’t… city etiquette. Perhaps it is the lack of this cornball ease that causes urban artists to lean on temporary highs.
The Meeting of the Classes
Mickey met a woman at this event who also attended art school. She told him her mother purchased a piece at the show. “She was rich,” Mickey says. “Which was initially fine, because she’s an artist and she pretended to be poor by buying thousand dollar paint splattered jeans anyway.”
Social class is something palpable in Chicago, but especially in art school. Many of the students who attend SAIC, for example, come from wealthy families. “Who else would pay thirty thousand a year for a degree so unstable? People who can afford to throw money away, that’s who.”
Mickey expressed how the relationship eventually grew awkward. “During a date, she and I enjoyed dinner at Trotter’s. At the evening’s close, my credit card returned to me cut in half. Regrettably, she paid. In cash. The moment she received her change, I felt my sperm count drop thirty percent.”
“Love doesn’t exist in art school,” Mickey says. “Finding out you’re gay does.”
On the other side of the gallery was another couple, not complaining about gazing or discussing social class. They were two men who looked completely in love.
“In a regular college, meathead guys get into the whole frat party scene, sleep around, but will eventually find a girl they like and marry her,” said one of the men. “It’s not like that for men at art school, unless you’re gay. I feel sorry for straight women at SAIC. If they want a man, they’ll have to wait till they’ve graduated, or for a miracle.”