Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The State of Art in DC, Blogs and Criticism

This evening I listened to Kojo Nnamdi’s show on WAMU, which featured Lenny Campello and Jack Rasmussen, both of whom have functioned as
superiors in my development in very indirect ways. Jack runs the Katzen
Museum in the Katzen Arts Center at American University, for which I have
installed walls, painted parts of the gallery space, transported artwork
and hung a show. He also is the custodian of a multimedia earthwork,
America’s Grave, which I collaborated on with colleague Randall Packer.
Lenny has been the publisher of a couple of my art reviews of work at
the Watkins Gallery, AU’s former gallery space, and a critique I would
like to formally abjure on the work of Tom Flynn at Osuna last May (partly because it was poorly written, partly because my opinion has changed).

The segment discussed the gallery environment in the greater DC area and
why the art scene is not as strong as it potentially could be. Kojo even
pointed out how DC has the most concentrated population of millionaires in
the nation, yet their patronage of the art travels north to Manhattan.

Lenny mentioned the blossoming theatre scene in the area, which has become
well established in the past couple of years, and how it could point to a
trend of rising arts awareness. However, Lenny also pointed to the Post’s
diminishing coverage of area arts; the style section has reduced arts
coverage to two per month for the 100+ exhibitions occurring regularly in
the area (mixed liberally between embassies, nonprofits, alternative
spaces, established galleries and so forth).

Perhaps that will be the focus of this, intermingled with my own
particular interests. With the blossoming awareness that is occurring, as
galleries move from Georgetown to Bethesda and Dupont/14th St (easily
accessible by Metro), the strength of the theatre scene, and this call for
something, the blogosphere appears the stronghold of DC criticism, though
shady and spotty at times. The potential is there for evolution, something
of a more dedicated nature than a blog because, let’s face it, a blog is
like an email: casual. It is why the blog is also a casualty. It caters to
the web geeks but also the artist web geeks who search them out. As
Barbara Rose once said to me of a piece I was kicking around, “the only
thing worse than art about art is art that jokes about art.” Somewhere in
there is a parallel between art criticism and the blog. Still, we must
venture forth!

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