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Saturday 02.28.15

« Populist Visionaries: Finster and Abernathy | Main | Cynthia Lahti Bonnie Bronson Fellow »

Weekend Art Criticism

Art criticism is becoming rarer and rarer because most outlets dont take the time to develop space and expectations for strong critical voices. PORT turns 10 June 1 and we have always taken the long view as well as the immediate taking both with a grain of salt. What little visual arts writing there is tends to be aimed at ingratiation rather than evaluation.

Roberta Smith reviews Louise Nevelson... it means something more because the NY Times has critics like Smith. Instead of merely announcing the show she givesa sense of where Nevelson has stood and why. If it weren't coming from a critic with experience it would sound catty but in actuality it reveals how popular attitudes change... critics cboth surf those waves and disrupt them.

Daily Serving and Arts Practical are merging with CCA. I have mixed feelings about the need for art writing and criticism remaining independent of large art institutions though at the same time large universities have hosted print journals for years... is it just an internet SEO grab or just another academic writing puppy mill? That said it is certainly very difficult to fund arts writing of all sorts. PORT tuns 10 in June and we abide by a very specific code... different than journalism. I think of it as a critics code because journalism and criticism are different.

The big news on Friday for Portland's art scene was that Richard Speer will be stepping down as the WWeek's Visual Arts Critic in March (he will be doing a 13 year look back as his last harrah. The thing that most misunderstand is the way a critic idiomatically and personally covers a beat month after month as a kind of public/personal interlocutor. True criticism is developed as a unique perspective idiomatic to that process, not as someone who simply regurgitates an artist's statement or press release with a little more vocabulary. That is what Richard always brought, an honest opinion that came from going to the shows. The bigger question will be if the WWeek will actually replace him with another person dedicated to that beat? Will it just be an occasional freelancer without the experience and context? What's more criticism and journalism are not always an easy fit and a lot of internet based arts writing is geared towards ingratiating itself with the community but I liken that creating a farmed arts community merely seeking "attention" rather than being tested in a critical process where critics act as charismatic predators that thin out the weaker ideas... not all art is the same and if Richard disliked something you would know about it. He will still write for other publications but the question is will the WWeek be able to have another critic that covers a specialized beat week after week?

Posted by Jeff Jahn on February 28, 2015 at 11:38 | Comments (0)


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