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An Open Letter to the Corcoran Re: Artini

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To: Artini Planning Committee, 1869 Society, The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.
From: The Bitches Who Brunch, their family and friends, and (we assume) many other angry patrons


Dear Artini,

Last year, we had the most phenomenal time at Artini. Our large group of friends, including several out-of-town guests, arrived around 9 p.m., sampled the dozen artisanal cocktails once—if not twice—over, took time to peruse the art gallery upstairs, and spent the rest of the night dancing until the event ended. My only complaint was the awful DJ (he played Space Jams), but this year you hired a better, more reputable DJ, DJ Neekola, so Cori Sue was sure 2011 would be just as great, if not better, than last year.

Based on 2010, we decided to make Artini a tradition among our friends. And we don’t exaggerate when we say we had been looking forward to it all year long. Three of Cori Sue’s girlfriends drove six hours from North Carolina for the occasion, and Becca’s mother drove another eight hours from North Carolina, as well. For the last two months, every time we saw a friend, we would say, “Have you bought your Artini ticket yet? It is one of my favorite events of the year.” We were your most vocal supporters. And, now, Corcoran, we will be your most vocal critics.

Artini is a fantastic concept for an event: You get twelve of the city’s best mixologists from top restaurants to craft a creative cocktail inspired by a work of art from the Corcoran’s collection. Patrons mix and mingle from table to table, sampling the cocktails, munching on hors d’ouevres, and bopping to the sounds of the DJ. Best of all, you can nip upstairs and check out the Corcoran’s exhibits. Tickets are $100, but it’s more than worth it because it’s going to a great cause—the arts in the District. You enjoy the phenomenal experience and drink and eat your fare share of unique cocktails and delicious appetizers. Right?

Wrong. Cori Sue’s party arrived at the event, which started at 8:30 p.m., at 9:15 to find three quarters of the dozen cocktail stations completely dry. They frantically scrambled around the extremely crowded (we’d venture to say oversold) venue in search of a beverage but found long lines everywhere they turned.

They snagged a cocktail from the Gibson, which was based on Albert Bierstadt’s painting The Last of the Buffalo, and meant to smell like you were on the prairie. Well, it tasted like buffalo you-know-what. The pours were stingy—a fourth of a tumbler cup—but it didn’t quite matter since the concoction was too awful to drink. The only other cocktail they were able to snag was a tropical, fruity concoction from Farmer’s & Fisher’s based on The Tiger and the Snake, which they all enjoyed. However, they couldn’t sample a second because Farmer’s & Fisher’s, like every other cocktail stand, was out of liquor by 10 p.m.

Becca and her party were there as early as 8:30, when the event started. But they, too, only managed to sample two cocktails. PS7’s Gina Chersevani was mixing martinis based on Gene Davis’ Black Popcorn, painstakingly painting stripes of food coloring on the top of what must have been the sweetest martini we’ve ever tasted (seriously, it made our faces pucker). There was one winner, though, and that was Againn’s artini, inspired by Daniel Chester French’s The Sons of God Saw the Daughters of Man That They Were Fair. Though, we seem to remember Brent Davis’ martini had something more to do with a Fall From Grace, with a drop of dark liquor that slipped to the bottom of the glass. It was the best in the room. But we still had to wait in line for 30 minutes to get a sip.

By 10 p.m., when the crowd realized that all the tables were running dry, everyone rushed the beer and wine bar upstairs—making for a line of hundreds of disgruntled people. Our party spent the better part of two hours waiting for cheap chardonnay, tweeting angrily about our ruined girls’ weekend. Hoping to make the best of it, at 11:30 p.m., we attempted to view the Corcoran’s galleries, but were kicked out by security guards closing the area early. Disheartened and near tears, we headed home.

So, Corcoran, what’s the deal? We’ve heard you’re having financial troubles and in danger of closing. Our presumption is backed up by the Living Social Deal that offered discounted membership to the 1869 Society, the young professionals association that hosts Artini. Were you trying to stay afloat by overselling the event and reducing the costs by skimping on the cocktails? We also noticed the dessert bar was absent this year—never a good idea to leave sober, unhappy ladies without liquor and chocolate.

Beyond the complete and utter failure on the cocktail front, the event’s patrons seemed … less refined. Fine, we’ll say it, we were shocked by how awfully dressed everyone was. And it wasn’t just us, everyone we spoke to alluded, or flat-out declared, how atrocious most people looked at the event.

Among the fashion offenses spotted: fur shoes, bright white taffeta cupcake dresses, purple satin with rhinestones, teensy-tiny-too-tight clothing on larger ladies (dress for your body type!), visible bra straps, a floor-length wedding gown on a post-menopausal aged woman (you could also see her underwear), hair feathers, and bad shoes galore. Did we mention fur shoes? The 1869 Society was once a classy, charitable establishment—but I suppose you lose that when you offer a discounted deal to join the club.

Now, we’re all for supporting the arts in D.C., and we certainly love the art exhibits at the Corcoran (well, sometimes we do). But we just couldn’t let this disappointing event fly without telling you how we feel.


Two Angry Bitches

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5 thoughts on “An Open Letter to the Corcoran Re: Artini”

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  1. Your experience was horrible, I’ll give you that, but was it really necessary for you to attack what others were wearing at this event? The acrimony in your judgmental opinions about fabrics, textiles, and forms makes me wonder if the wrong kind of people at the event were, in fact, yourselves.

  2. I think this is a great synopsis of the event. The night started promising, but we ended up leaving at 11pm to search for a better spot! Also, this might be a personal preference, but for an event with such an expensive ticket, I would hope for passed hors d’oeuvres. Who can juggle, mingle, look at art, & still remain graceful?

    Finally, there were fashion faux pas a-plenty! Someone had to say it. I’m sure all these folks were kind, giving people, but nothing was said about their character. The girlfriends just need to hit up the spring sample sales!

  3. Jhames,
    There is a reason this is a blog (opinion-based), and a blog with “Bitches” in the name. On this blog, we give our opinions on food, fashion, and events. There is also a reason that there are thousands of blogs, books, and magazines that provide fashion advice, and that the fashion industry is a multi-billion dollar industry—many many people out there believe that there are appropriate standards of attire for the workplace, formal events, weddings, and more. In America, you are free to wear whatever you want, and I am free to judge you for it and voice my opinion on the Internet.

    We openly welcome your opinion, as well, Jhames. But I wonder, you are an artist, yes? A graphic designer that “designs pretty things,” says your Web site. Do you consider fashion a form of art? Every day, we judge art, movies, books, food, TV shows—people establish opinions on nearly everything. Can fashion not be judged as well?

  4. Just came across this posting. As a member of the 1869 Society’s Steering Committee, a long time supporter of the Corcoran Gallery of Art and ARTINI, and the 2014 Co-Chair of ARTINI, I am very disappointed to read your post.

    While ARTINI is thought of as fun night of imbibing among other young professionals in DC, its main purpose is to serve as a fundraiser. The liquor provided to the bartenders for the event is donated by various distributors and the bartenders volunteer their time to support our fundraiser.

    As someone who was there, I totally understand about being frustrated in having to wait in long lines and not able sample all of the creative cocktails.

    With that said, I am sorry you were not pleased with your experience in 2011, I hope you reconsider and support us in 2014.

    Currently, we are in the process of recruiting a Host Committee. Since you have experienced the good and bad of ARTINI, I’d love to have you help us in planning next year’s event to make it the most successful fundraiser to date. Please feel free to email me at [email protected].

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