Monday, February 14, 2011

Changes in Art Writing at the Oregonian

Listen to the interview here.

Art criticism is a subject I covered from time to time in my old online diary. So much so that after awhile, D.K. Row rarely looked my way in a crowded room. I never felt particularly comfortable or happy about that. So it was with a strange baited breath that I made the phone call to David at the Oregonian: Are you indeed leaving? And if so, is anyone writing about art there?

Hence, my reason for the panel of art critics on KBOO tomorrow.

It is official: D.K. Row is no longer The Art Critic. But he’s not leaving. He’ll write about philanthropy, amongst other things (which still peaks my interest, in ways I’ll detail in a future post) at the paper. But as to who will be writing and how they will do it, he couldn’t say.

So it’s possible there will no longer be this major voice at the Oregonian. Whatever sparing I do with an art critic, I find this to be sad (if it’s true). Some say it’s all up to the Internet and blogs now, but for me that’s not the case. Not yet anyway.

The authority of the paper is something we rile against, talk to and around. That authority may have dimmed in some ways – but I don’t think that we found a replacement, at least not here in this town. And I want to say publicly that while I had my frictions with the O, D.K. Row in particular did so much for Lovelake and for so many artists who matter to me. And I now realize that nobody has got to do anything. We can talk about reporting the news, blah blah, but writers do choose the news.


Patrick said...

I wonder if all of the art writing on the net, plus the coverage given in the free weeklies makes the decision all that much easier.

Certainly the Oregonian is not the only large metro paper to go this route.

namastenancy said...

I am always sorry to see a good "official" newspaper critic go. SF is down to one - Kenneth Baker - and he has quite a few limitations. Although I write for the SF, I can't say that I get any respect. But then, neither do any of the art bloggers that I know here. But eventually, we may be the only game in townommunity - and that has it's good side and it's bad side.

Gwenn said...

Of all the gatekeepers in the art world, art critics are my favorite.

Other gatekeepers--gallery owners and arts administrators of any kind--feature artists in their venues or with their awards and that's it. The gesture of their approval doesn't have much depth. Either they get behind an artist's work or they don't.

Critics gets to decide whether or not the work is worth featuring in their columns and then they also get to say something--good or bad--on top of that. It's a more nuanced form of validation for artists and one that I don't think art can do without.

Anonymous said...

Everyone will now get to like everything all of the time. Everyone will enjoy bland monoculture more than ever. The critics will march to the scaffold a la Poulenc's nuns in Dialogues of the Carmelites, and bloggers who have never read anything save for other blogs will unabatedly enthuse over their friends' shows. Why, what is there for a relativist libertarian not to love?

Rob said...

David Row did an excellent job exploring many shows a month and writing about more than a few. His recent columns have touched upon the business of art, including at institutions. So the change is a natural evolution. We certainly need more critical thinking on how artists can thrive economically.

The Oregonian has many part time arts writers who are excellent, including John Motley.

Since it is only possible to have an economically sustainable career as a visual artist by selling out of town, reviews in national organs and local ones read nationally, like PORT, are much more valuable than those in a local daily.

A complementary factor are the social networks of collectors. From art buyers last Thursday on Alberta and Goodfoot shows to those operating in the rarefied air of international auctions, those connections are a much more powerful force than the pen, and will become increasingly so.

Eva said...

Art Criticism in Crisis?

Judgment and Criticism

(Links courtsey Mike Bray)

Eva said...

Jeff Jahn on PORT.

Eva said...

Lisa Radon on Ultrapdx

Eva said...

Brian Libby in Portland Architecture

Cynthia Mosser said...

It is remiss to leave full-time arts coverage off the roster for the largest newspaper in Oregon, especially since the city is currently in the national spotlight. A full-time critic is a tastebud, and following their weekly writing allows one to sort out one's own personal art aesthetic. It would bid the arts community well to continue full-time coverage.

The freelance visual arts critics who write for the Oregon do hold their own (thank you), and I hope the writing continues in the Visual Arts section of the A & E.

Could DK simply be tired of the work? Soon we'll find out the details...

Eva said... re: art writers getting paid....