“People love to talk about emerging artists; people talk less about emerging critics, emerging writers….”
And this is another reason to support PORT. I never saw it quite so clearly as when I listened to that remark, made by Katherine Bovee, when she came on Artstar Radio along with Jeff Jahn the other day.
We need not only more writing but also better writing about art. It has been too easy to toss something out and for us to feel in some way grateful to get that toss. Of course you can’t blame a paper which, as Jeff said, must set its sights at an 8th grade education. But this interview made me fully realize just what PORT is fostering here: a future for writers, a place where the writer can grow up in public. And since that is what every artist is doing as they exhibit throughout the years, it’s only fair that writers also have that kind of opportunity.
During this conversation, we also talked about the wearing of many hats and if this is any kind of conflict of interest. I like the confidence that Jeff enjoys in being able to make art and hang shows and write about them all at the same time. Katherine, too, had no nagging questions at the end of day.
The idea of artist-as-curator has been canvassed a bit in Baby Smith’s journal, where she says she is surprised that more curators do not take risks and create taste and style, as opposed to following it. I had to point out - and it was a revelation while I was doing it - that someone who does not represent artists is in that risk-taking position. I mention the representation part because not everyone is happy that Chambers does not do it.
We absolutely need even more galleries who represent than we have at present here in PDX, but I saw from the start of my curating that this was not to be my deal. We are actually living in a place where you can curate not only good artists into special exhibitions, but artists who have been in biennials, received all kinds of press, have an interesting and substantial track record and are still unrepresented! I learn a lot from every new artist I work with.
Jeff mentioned that for him to write about the work, he had to have a vested interest in it. No ‘conflict of interest’ in his view - just plenty of it. “We wear our hearts on our sleeves,” he said, maybe more than once. I translated that into passion.