A Day with 'Gallery Girl' Liz Margulies
By Bill Kearney
I meet Liz and her father, Marty Margulies, at Morgans in Wynwood for brunch. Liz is one of the more outspoken cast members of Bravo network’s Gallery Girls, a reality show depicting the ego collisions, hobnobbing, posing, and glamour of young women working in New York’s art gallery scene. Her father, Marty, is one of Miami’s most important real estate developers, but also a patriarch of sorts for Miami’s art scene, with his renowned Margulies Collection at the Warehouse.
Liz seems slightly less peppy than her father this afternoon. “I’m running on three hours of sleep,” she notes. She flew in this morning from New York, where she studies graphic design at the School of Visual Arts. “I had a freelance project I had to finish last night, plus school.” Her sleeveless blouse shows off elaborate tattoos, including a thorn-rimmed día de los muertos skull, and the phrase “one life one chance.”
Marty watched all but one of the Gallery Girls shows, and not surprisingly, as an art world heavyweight, he was put off. “Some of the girls were childish. But I was very proud of her. She came off very well,” he says. “The show had nothing to do with the real art world. There was no substance. I guess those reality-TV shows are like that.”
“It’s the nature of the beast,” she says.
Marty looks down at her plate of salad. “You finished with that?” he asks, then polishes it off himself.
3:30 p.m.—the Margulies Collection at the Warehouse
We walk into the warehouse and are confronted by 17-foot-long lead eagle wings atop a stack of weathered and ashen tomes—Anselm Kiefer’s Sprache der Vögel, 1989, which stands almost like a sentry to the collection of modern art inside. Marty dives into showing Liz photos of his new acquisitions: another moody Kiefer with simple dresses tattered to spooky effect across a chalky background. She likes it, recalling how he had been outbid at an auction on a similar piece, making this one all the more meaningful. And he just picked up Olafur Eliasson’s composite of 56 photos of different huts amid raw Icelandic landscapes. “I’m thrilled to get it,” Marty says. “How I’m going to pay for it is another issue.”
Liz grew up on Key Biscayne and used the 45,000-square-foot Warehouse as a playground, surrounded by works by Willem De Kooning, George Segal, and Richard Serra. “When I was learning to speak, my mom was teaching me the names of the artists. I would point to the paintings and say the names.” Marty laughs at the memory. “We played hide-and-seek on all the sculptures, behind all of them.”
Liz wants to see what’s going up in the main room as the Warehouse preps for Basel week. Hammers and staple guns resound as we walk through a glade of massive statues by William Tucker and the pendulous, vaguely sexual stalactites of Ernesto Neto’s É ô Bicho!. Liz is keen on the bleak and intentionally anonymous black-and-white photographs from African artist Sabelo Mlangeni, and the way Nathalie Djurberg uses a nostalgic medium (claymation) to create sordid characters who break out into R-rated perversities. Dad’s phone rings, and he answers excitedly; Liz smirks at the fact that he’s got a flip phone.
10 p.m.—Bond Street Lounge
Liz walks in with Erin Koppel, a high school friend, and Koppel’s boyfriend, Ryan Gonzalez; friend Victor Davanzo shows up as well. We order spicy tuna on crispy rice, play Russian roulette with randomly spicy grilled shishito peppers, and debate the merits of lobster: Maine versus Florida. Liz reminisces with Koppel and Gonzalez about how they knew each other in high school but didn’t date until recently. “I had a boyfriend until about a week ago,” she says with a laugh, impressively void of self-pity, and admits that said ex-boyfriend was a boon during the filming of Gallery Girls. She says living her life in front of a camera caused her self-consciousness to spike. “It made me wonder: Do I need a better nose, better highlights, better boobs?”
“How do you think the show portrayed you?” I ask.
“I was the rich bitch. I mean, I am a bitch sometimes, but there are a lot more sides to me. At least it’s better than being the drunk fool.” The show was no easy task—between classes, working at the gallery, and shooting, her life took on an air of chaos. “I have new respect for Kim Kardashian. [Filming reality television] is a job!” Once we’re done with lychee martinis, we’re off to the SLS Hotel South Beach—Liz is eager to see it, since Philippe Starck designed both it and the Gramercy by Philippe Starck, where she lives in Manhattan.
Midnight—Hyde Beach, SLS Hotel South Beach
We stroll through the lobby, Liz eyeing the walls and ceilings, the decorative bull head, the joyously ostentatious octopus-like chandelier of shells hanging over The Bazaar. Out at the pool, she’s charmed by the 9-foot, 6-inch silver rubber-ducky replica and the overhanging architecture. Once inside Hyde Beach, she and her crew are joined by Lisa Herran (who once dated Liz’s brother). Drinks are raised. There’s talk of handbags, the good tunes (Foster The People’s “Pumped Up Kicks” transitions into Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean”), and who knows the door guy at Bardot. Another round and they’re off to roam the wee hours on the mainland.
photography by bill kearney