Monday, January 04, 2010

first introspective hand-wringing/holding panel discussion of the new year

Welcome back, and welcome to 2010!

So what's new for the new year? Well, tonight you should come over to the Capitol Skyline Hotel (10 I Street SW) to hear a WPA panel discussion in which Kriston Capps interrogates Isabel Manalo, Danielle O'Steen, and me about the trauma of being an isolated, lonely DC artist--or about the convenient fiction of said isolation.

Discussion starts at 6:30. See you there!


Blogger mj said...

I appreciated your comments and participation in the panel last night. As a person who is new to the city, the event was a great introduction to what's going on the DC area.

While I understand Victoria's objections to your ladder idea, I think it was an apt analogy. Perhaps because art ladder rungs seem to be missing, it is very hard for younger artists to commit to staying here and/or creating their own structures? There is no model of how to do that for them to reference. It is hard to imagine a goal for yourself if there is no one to point the way.

In other cities I've lived in, the museums played an important role in the local art world by showing local artists. Institutional support of the local scene seems to be one of the big missing rungs here.

5:10 PM  
Blogger jhcudlin said...

A few things:

I agree with Victoria's objection that envisioning non-profits as the "bottom rung" is not entirely apt. Non-profits are not simply junior commercial galleries; they are spaces where certain kinds of production or ideas that don't necessarily seem commodifiable, or that don't match typical notions of commercial gallery presentation, can be developed and presented.

That's certainly how I think of what the AAC does. I'm always asking myself, for example, what the difference is between showing the work of an artist with commercial representation here, and a show of that artist's work in a gallery...and if I can't find a convincing reason, we don't do it.

I think Victoria was more offended by being lumped in with other galleries that use a different process to select artists and proposals. Or maybe it was the use of the modifier "closet-sized"--I wasn't even thinking about Transformer when I said it, but probably should've realized it'd be interpreted that way. (Hey, to a guy working in a 17,000 sq foot facility, every other gallery in town that isn't Conner Contemp. is a closet.)

The museums are an interesting question. Rubell's mention of the disconnect/disproportion between local artists and, say, the NGA is a little inapt: It's the National Gallery of Art. Let's remember that everybody in the entire country wants in there. Still, I think institutions like the Hirshhorn, or the Corcoran--or even the NMWA, as Kriston pointed out--could and should do a better job of connecting with the art in DC that's museum-quality--of which, in my opinion, there's quite a bit, and those artists are struggling to figure out why they're plateauing on the middle rungs.

That said, there are reasons to live in any city with a vibrant cultural life, and there are artists I've talked to in other cities who would much rather be here than where they are now. And I don't think these gaps are unbridgeable; I think it's just going to take a lot of work.

Anyway, thanks for your comment, and I hope you'll be staying for awhile.

11:59 AM  

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