In 2002, when I started talking to artists at KPSU, there was such a need for any kind of art coverage. There weren’t so many blogs back then or the profusion of voices we have now.
At the time my big concern was the artist, front and center. I felt they did not have a lot of power (that hasn’t really changed either!). Pals told me that they were not very empowered in our how their art life played out.
An artist quipped one day: “I’m at the bottom of the food chain.” I was a little taken back at the brutal claim (and it turns out she was talking about her medium, not just being an artist, so there’s a hierarchy even within the visual arts). She was making all this work and did not know how the hell to get it out there - so I was like: “Let’s hear what the artist has to say!”
Five years passed and while doing that show, I worked at exhibition spaces, getting a crash course on what other people in the art world were doing (the gallerist, the curator, the writer, etc.). Being on the other side of the desk let me see and value what these people were doing. It was almost weird to see myself become an advocate for the gallerist, as opposed to the artist, but let’s just say that advocacy grew as I understood how the art object made its way to us.
Many of these art people do not make much (or any) money for what they do and what they do, basically, is help facilitate the works and dreams of others. This is not to say that the job needs no sense of self however!
Julie Bernard at KBOO handled her show like this from the start – she was always as interested in the director of a museum as much as an artist. It took me years to see that she was right.