Angeleno : Look Who’s Talking : “Big Dealer: Michelle Berc is the LA art scene’s queen of the one-night stand, Nov 05

Angeleno : Look Who’s Talking : “Big Dealer: Michelle Berc is the LA art scene’s queen of the one-night stand, Nov 05

Angeleno > November 2005

By Gary Baum
Photography By Larry Letters

BIG DEALER Michelle Berc is the L.A. art scene’s reigning queen of one-night stands

Gallerist Michelle Berc certainly knows how to move the merchandise. Her bi-monthly series of downtown parties set the work of local artists to a DJ’s drum-and-bass beats. Part loft bash, part gallery opening, Berc’s events keep the cash bar flowing and the credit card machine humming to abet up to 60 impulsive buys a night-with some pieces, she claims, going for $6,000. Berc’s curating M.O. scraps highfalutin abstractions (forget the pile o’ glass shards) in favor of family-room-friendly populist pieces (hello, beige horseys and palm-treed city scapes). The Venice –based gallerist is an admitted micro-manager, designing the party flyers, personally closing some deals, and neutralizing the occasionally inflated egos of her artists when they throw the inevitable attention-getting hissy fit. “I have to put on this sort of parental, type A personality with them, but it’s by necessity, not choice,” she says. Berc, 32, who previously worked in music video production, didn’t exactly pioneer the practice of opening-night-only exhibits (local scenester Michael Arata was filling motel rooms with canvases and Merlot sippers at the Farmer’s Daughter when it was still in its late ‘90s, pre-hipster period). But her events are quite possibly the most audacious in recent memory, if only because she’s got the cojones to demand $10 admission-along with the clout to convince 1,5000 world-be patrons per night to actually pay up.

HOTS: Cucumber sauce, backpacking through the Chiapas, first editions from Equator Books, juicing carrots, kale, and beets in the morning, sunset bike rides along the Venice Boardwalk NOTS: Portraiture, overcrowded weekends at Abbot Kinney nightspots, the post-move difficulty of cramming all your stuff into a smaller place, temperamental artists, not being able to find the time to dance at your own party.