“Cover me, Uncovered”, in the Valley Advocate
Below, below, is a comment I posted on the Valley Advocate site in response to the article in today’s issue. I wonder if more people will comment on the article. I think comments sections offer valuable real estate for discourses on topics although people seem reticent about commenting. You can comment with complete anonymity–I really can’t unearth your identity. It is safe to comment anonymously. Share your comments.
But first, a linkage timeline:
The original post in its original venuistic glory which started the whole thing can be found here. This includes the comment (which I took as a dare) from Anne Laprade inviting me to make this post into a show. It also clearly states that the post was inspired by a recent 9and not the first) cut in arts coverage in a local paper. It is important to note that this show did not come out of a sudden indictment on my part about the quantity or quality of arts coverage but rather was inspired by yet another cut, a further diminishment of arts coverage, and editorial decisions to replace a space set aside for arts coverage with American Idol coverage. It also begins to ask why the masses would rather read about a reality show about non-local aspiring musicians than the local arts reality show playing out in their own backyard.
A post on this blog in which I discuss the premise of the show, include the curatorial statement, and include bios of the participating artists can be found here.
The post on this blog about the Boston globe article is here. And the actual Globe article is here. Then there are
Pictures from the extremely well-attended reception. The images show a gallery crowded with people. A pretty good turnout for a show that didn’t get free line listings with the reception time and place. How did we get all those people to come? Well, this plays into a discussion about the obstacles papers face due to the proliferation of online media and which I will post about one of these days. We got that crowd via a combination of traditional USPS postcard mailing and email announcements and blog posts here. So, if we can’t get free listings about receptions and show dates then of course we are going to turn to emails and blogs to get the word out. The blogosphere is where I turn when the traditional media outlets lack room. The popularity of my old newsletter suggests a high need for a place to at the very least announce upcoming shows.
And a half page article later is The Hampshire Gazette article.
Which, combined with the advocate article, inspired Geoff Edgers at the The Boston Globe to post about all the coverage this show got in his blog, “The Exhibitionist” at boston.com, the show’s second appearance in that blog.
I thought the article brought up many good points. I guess I’ll get to them later as I am temporarily stuck on the last two sentences, which may be of some delight to a few critics perhaps. I heard many criticisms about even putting this show on and those were from fellow artists. And if you read my comment below you’ll see that there are two omissions in the article that I wanted to point out, one of which I think, while inadvertant, is important to our case in both a factual and ironic way. I remain proud of this show and proud of what we accomplished. Discussion is always a good thing.
And if I falied in some ways as a first-time curator then I admit that and I own it. I was too timid to approach the show by curating the work and so I just invited artists to address the topic and took what was dropped off. I like all of the work in the show, relevant or not. And I want to point out that while Tobey called Anila Zaidi’s work “flip”, I saw it as thoughtful and brave regardless of how it might measure up to demographics and pie charts. I am a fan of Anila’s college-ruled series and to know Anila is to know that she is not flip. Maggie Nowinski’s piece did actually address the theme. The images are representative of a feeling brought about perhaps by the possibility of creating work in a vacuum of sorts. Line Bruntse’s piece also seems relevant; the tile, “Medonna” suggests to me a shrine to oneself and the bathtub madonna construction calls to mind the shrines people often create in their own yards as a worship piece. Perhaps she is suggesting that without outside ‘worship” or coverage, we need to create our own or that self-worship replaces outside acclaim. This is guesswork as I have no text on her piece to enlighten me as to its intent. Again–if you have a thought about the show or the work why not comment either here or on the Valley Advocate site.
One last thing before the comment: an excerpt from an email from Tobey (in garish teal text, as he called the hue of my beauty shop chair’s fabulously retro-tacky vinyl upholstery), pasted with his permission (I consider email discussion sacred and do not share people’s emails to me without permission) because I like these words better than some in the article–
I think the show was, in ways uncommon here, really good: You found talented people, who work in a wild variety of media, the space was laid out very well, and you throw a great opening party. You could have a whole new money-losing career as a curator, I bet. And on second thought, maybe that’s not such a bad idea, if you could actually get some gallery or museum to provide a weekly salary… Seriously…
And, for what it’s worth, I would never put you in the merely beautiful object school, nor among the “too many”, because you take real and bold chances in your work, and you work really really hard at it. It does suck that there’s not a better world to receive/reward what you do so well–I think you’re among the people that perhaps would do better in the big city, but who aren’t there because of what gets sacrificed in the way of humanity, grounded connections.
I am grateful that you devoted 4 pages, many pictures and a cover (!) in this week’s advocate to cover the show. The article was well-written and brought up many points which are grounded, provocative and certainly merit discussion. Did we make our case? I don’t know and my therapist is also at a loss on this. We put on a show about the lack of arts coverage and got a Boston Glove article, a Hampshire Gazette article and this Advocate article. If nothing else we got coverage I guess. The Boston Globe article was, yes, “more of the same” as in a non-critical piece, but Geoff Edgers, the author, is an Arts Reporter and not an Arts Reviewer and so he “reported” on the show. (And, not only did we get the Globe article, I got lunch and lobster as well. More sustenance for a struggling artist perhaps–although the lobster was a bit dry.)
Anyway-I am still digesting the article and will likely be back here to ramble some more semi-coherencies but for now I am mainly stuck on the last two sentences of the article. Let’s say, for the sake of friendly debate and lovefests, (for you know I love you as much as I love starting sentences with “anyway” and putting things in parentheses) that some of the artists did not address the theme; the possibilities for this would be more of an infinite nature than a singular conclusion that it was due to a lack of regard for the theme, I think.
If I were asked to be in a show about the war and I chose to submit a glass-covered vacuum cleaner would that mean that the premise of the show was somehow invalid or pointless? Would my action-driven opinion even render it so? Maybe that would mean that I just want people to see my vacuum. Maybe it would mean I have no room in my studio to store that vacuum. Maybe it would mean that all I want is another line item on my exhibition history and don’t even care what the theme of the show is, as long as I get to be in a show. Or maybe it would mean that I think that the war sucks our souls. Who knows what it would mean.
But I don’t know that the work in this show that seemingly doesn’t address the theme necessarily means that “the premise failed to grip the imagination” of the participating artists and as such undervalues the theme. Arts coverage is important to all artists. Maybe there are those artists that eschew coverage. And if any of the artists in this show are of that ilk and accepted the invitation anyway then shame on them. I don’t know how I’d conclusively be able to discern that. I am not sure that happened. Perhaps I will have a polygraph ready when they come to pick up their work and will report back, like that new reality show.
Also-Lisa Scollan’s piece, on the front page of the print version of the article, is called, “Self-Coverage”, and is disembodied human parts engaged in “self-love”, which makes a relevant point. I wish the title of her piece was captioned below the image for it is somewhat ambiguous without it. And in a somewhat ironic twist, given the theme of the show, Larry’s Slezak’s piece on the cover of the Advocate is uncredited.
But still – great article and I still love you and will be posting all of my thoughts here and on my blog at benigngirl.com which has the curatorial statement and the text and links for all of the press to date.