The deadline for the annual Betty Bowen award is August 1st
but you can't win if you don't enter. True the $10 entry fee is lame (I'm spending my 10 bucks on a burger in delicious protest) but the avowed aim of foregrounding an undiscovered yet brilliant artist is a refreshingly romantic gesture. In practice though the artists who win this are often well known and associated with a major gallery and/or art school in the area (and PNW galleries and colleges aren't exactly radical art havens so they should be looking outside of those institutions). You can call me a hopeless romantic but the award (and all other Northwest art awards) should be a ladder for acknowledging excellence rather than perpetuating tepid career stability and if it did a little more of that risk taking maybe it would matter more? Last year's winner Jenny Heishman
was a reason to pay more attention since she wasn't the typical craft-driven academic that usually wins. How about new media and installation? Don't get me wrong craft is fine but I prefer to see as much emphasis on the intelligence of the work as the fetish of how well the materials are worked (work that isn't working with intelligence is a vain and petty thing). Look, there is craft and then there is Kraft. For example, the intelligent and delegated craft of a Judd piece absolutely kills the gee whiz Kraft that is Roy McMakin or Trimpin, egads! Even the workmanship of Roxy Paine (often executed by Roxy himself) is forged by his intellectual need to understand the construction. This is a nuanced distinction between outward fetish of work ...and work that builds understanding. This is a distinction I find utterly lacking in Pacific Northwest discourse except when the Museum of Contemporary Craft does things like Ai Weiwei. Best of luck to everyone, I will order my burger rare!
There are two public art opps for San Francisco that have been extended to August 15th:
Central Subway Public Art Opportunity for Moscone/Yerba Buena Entry Plaza: Sculpture: The Arts Commission is seeking to purchase a significant, museum caliber sculpture of the highest aesthetic quality for permanent installation at the entry plaza to the Moscone Center/Yerba Buena Station. Sculpture for this site must be made of durable materials suitable to this urban outdoor location. We encourage professional, practicing artists working in sculpture and commercial galleries to apply. Click here to read the RFP
Central Subway Architecturally Integrated Two-Dimensional Projects: The Arts Commission is seeking artists to be considered for three large-scale architecturally integrated public art projects located at the following three stations (one art project per station): Chinatown, Union Square/Market Street, and Moscone Center/Yerba Buena. We encourage professional, practicing artists working in two-dimensional media (such as painting, drawing, photography, etc.) to apply. The San Francisco Arts Commission's goal is to commission unique artwork of the highest aesthetic quality for each project location, which will be translated into a durable material for permanent installation within the station. Applicants should not develop proposals at this stage in the selection process. Any proposals submitted along with application materials will be disregarded. Click here to read the RFQ
Which of the following would you consider yourself most:
a. a hater
b. a nihilist
c. terminally pessimistic
d. burned up
e. owner of a lonely heart
PORT is not a venue for discussing our writer's philosophical outlook or personality, but none of those bears any resemblance to me. It is an invitation to discuss what critics do however.
Critics are easily misunderstood, esp. by artists. As a critic I'm interested in patterns, intellectual acuity and relevance. It would be difficult to label this as negative... though I am sounding the relevance alarm on certain local institutions/agencies because there is widespread dissatisfaction. Because of my position I am one of the very few people who can air these concerns without retribution. There is a sense of duty at work here, never hate. If I'm discussing institutions it is because the onslaught of summer group shows is a tad anonymous and not worth the same attention as good solo shows,
When Peter Plagens was out here he asked me to define myself by the 3 types of critic he has come up with: goalies, cartographers, and evangelists.
Goalies often write for the popular press and have a "defensive" position preventing undeserving art from being considered. Cartographers map the art landscape and therefore understandable. Evangelists are advocates for artists they consider worth supporting.
I indicated that I'm all three at once (because Portland is still the wild west in terms of cultural development).
I lso added that Im more like an old west mountain man/trapper like Jim Bridger. I know where stuff is and easily cross various real and invisible borders between artist, curator and critic. I'm equally at home talking to patrons in the West Hills and artists just scraping by down in Sullivan's Gulch. I read the weather/landscape and act accordingly, it is all very tactical with a goal of maximizing the potential of people and institutions. If it seems unrestrained that's just part of my craft because I do pick my battles very carefully and with great precision... it is important to be honest and not some mandarin toadie. Yes, I've also adopted a bit of a gruff voice because it is a good one for male critics, curators and artists as they age... but one has to earn that sort of thing (I've been writing professionally for 20 years, I started in museums and taught in grad school). Still, don't let the gruff voice fool you, if you are excellent at what you do as an artist or curator I'm your sweetest and most loyal ally... once again that must be earned.
Every now and again this needs to be restated and thanks for the prompt.
It cool. Was expelling some late night boredom here in E. WA, surprised to see such an elaborated response actually. PORT is my top RSS and I read posts here more than anywhere. I rather enjoy your writing/writers. Keep up the good work, thanks for your service. I'm cooking an apple pie and must go now.