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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Etiquette Questions: Art Exhibits, Coffee Shop Performances

We're still bending under the weight of objects (from Mr FS's late parents) and obligations (hundreds of assignments to process and hundreds more en route). Still, we try to have a little fun now and then.

To wit. We recently received invites from two people who are midway between acquaintance and friend. The first is to an art exhibit, which will feature--in addition to the art--live music and probably refreshments.

The second is to a coffee shop performance.

My question. If we go to the art exhibit, are we obligated to buy something? Can we just admire, listen to the music, and go home? We were once invited to an exhibit of work by a truly starving artist. We knew what was expected and--gritting our teeth because we didn't like the work very much (though we liked the artist a lot)--we bought a piece. This artist is a retired teacher married to a lawyer, so this is definitely not of the same category as the other invite. Plus we have not a bit of wall space available.

For the coffee shop performance--by a musical lawyer and her boyfriend--we know we are expected to buy some coffee and put money in the pot. Right? Does anyone know an appropriate amount?

Mr FS and I are clueless about so many matters of etiquette. It is truly embarrassing. Any advice will be much appreciated.


SewingLibrarian said...

Is the art exhibit at a gallery? If so, I don't think you are obligated to buy anything unless you see a work that you love. I can't imagine that everyone who attends an opening at a gallery buys something.
For the coffee house, I would take a cue from the other people, or look to see if there is a receptacle for cash. And I would certainly buy coffee. It seems to me a lawyer wouldn't be playing at a coffee house for money. Surely, she does it for the joy of playing and the money is a bonus? (Unless she's not a very good lawyer, LOL). Just a guess here, but I'd put in ten bucks.

Rosa said...

As an artist who has invited friends and acquaintances to shows, I have to say: You are under no obligation to buy anything. Your artist friend will be glad to see you there and to have a nice compliment from you, I'm sure. If you love a piece and it's within your price range, buy it. But you're certainly not obligated!

For the coffee shop: Buy coffee and, if there's a tip jar for the musicians, drop a few singles in or a five (especially if there's no cover charge for the performance). But no more than that, I think.

see you there! said...

I agree with the above. Artists like a crowd at the gallery and certainly don't expect everyone to be a buyer.

Coffee at the coffee shop, a couple bills in the tip jar - again I think musicians appreciate having an audience.

An empty "hall" is worse than an empty tip jar (or no purchase) it seems to me.


Duchesse said...

I'm with Rosa! You are *never* obligated to buy, even when an exhibit is in the artist's home. The tip jar for musicians or the passed hat is when you drop in some bills.

I can see how your sympathies were evoked by the starving artist, and I have done that myself (always throwing away the art).