There is an ongoing Seattle discussion about a critic supposedly curating his collection into an exhibition. It started at the Slog and continued at Artdish. Several times I wanted to jump in, but felt I had maybe too much to say that was hovering yet still beside the point - as I am not in Seattle, have not seen the Mary Henry show (unfortunately!), don’t know much about Matthew Kangas, etc.
But I do know a bit about what can happen when a writer wants to collect here. It wasn't cool for the writer to review and collect, seen as a potential ‘conflict of interest’ (and no, this writer had not reviewed that particular artist or show).
But what about creating an intimate relationship with art as part of your critical practice? Can you really do that if your relationships are all based on gallery and museum visits and books? Art is an ongoing conversation and a real critical practice can be similar to a real art practice – it doesn’t happen in flashes or at a distance.
Mind, one should never ‘pay’ for a review with artwork! These questions apply whether someone buys the work or it was given to them. Art can change your life and change your mind, but it has a harder time doing that if you don’t let it in. To let it in takes a certain commitment, even if it was a gift. To live with it demands something that critiquing does not (that also applies to people who curate and hang shows, who write press releases and all – I’d call that ‘living with it’ too!).
After all, what does a critic do but give an opinion? It is all based on bias, every bit of it - and the writer is allowed, maybe even celebrated, for their bias. But the really great writers love, they don’t just like. And they often surround themselves with what they loved enough to let in.