Meet the Press, Sept 26, 2009. Panel discussion moderated by Kevin Freitas from Art as Authority at Art Produce Gallery as part of Agitprop: David White's Brain Trust.
You can see the video of this panel discussion on UTube posted by Kevin Frietas. Kevin and Philly Joe Swendoza did a further discussion of the evening and you can hear that on this link if you click on Viagra Needed for San Diego Arts Press Corps? on Art Rocks! Internet radio.
What follows are solely my written answers to the questions asked by Kevin Freitas that evening. Other panelist were Keli Dailey from SignOnSanDiego, Pam Kragen from North County Times, Seth Combs from San Diego CityBeat
What is your current diagnostic of the state of health of the arts coverage here in San Diego? (What would you prescribe as a remedy?)
High grade fever of expectations, sperm count is too low. Viagra needed.
How do you proceed and decide what to cover? (Give me one good reason why we should cover the arts at all?)
Art needs to be mystified and demystified. We need to create wonder. We also need to give people a handle on a way to approach art. At SDVAN we chose writers who make a choice for our Picked RAW feature and they then write in Picked RAW Peeled a report on what they have chosen and seen. We ask that they commit to 6 months of Picks in order to develop their own voice. We also ask them to write in a way that the man on the street can understand.
Do you have a target audience that you write for? What is the most effective way to reach that audience? For example, as purely informational (who, what, where, when) or is there a larger goal?Our target audience is those who have never bought art before. They are graduating from Art Walk to Ray at Night to Open Studios to buying their first art work. We are still working on the most effective way to get to them, but we believe they are young and computer literate.
As newspapers and their readership shrink, are sold and re-bought, their advertising dollars shrinking (from what we hear in the press) and the push to put the news on the web, with video and breaking news reporters a la CNN, etc: Has the art press shrunk as well, or is this an opportunity to develop and reach a larger public? How has it affected you as a writer?
I was paid to write free lanch in England for a Middle Eastern Magazine and have a history of connection with writers (I was previously married to the terrorist expert and defense correspondent for the London Sunday Times). I wrote a book of advice for Artists. I write tons of copy (A+ Art Blog on anything I am feeling, Art Resource articles, press releases, an annual newsletter from London and state of the arts) so I have been forced to think of myself as an art writer. It took me three years before I really thought of SDVAN as media source. To me the art writing world just gets bigger and bigger. Sometimes it threatens to take over my life. But if you curate and create, you almost have to write as well. But I have almost no idea who reads what I write and I see that as the biggest possible future change. Could comments left by readers be the new score card for advertisers replacing subscription numbers?
How can we improve the arts coverage here?We need to constantly encourage more writing. Ideally, there would be one place (i.e. website) where an audience could go to link to all the articles that are available by local writers on local visual artists. We need to use art writers to educate art buyers.
What do you think makes for outstanding arts writing?
There is no substitute for text which is well written with no art speak. We should be able to see the personality/prejudice of the writer and identify those we trust. But the most important thing to me is that the article should make the readers want to go and see the work for themselves.
I am including below a small teaser about my trip to London….a full art report will come to you in November about London and Venice.
Anish Kapoor at Royal Academy was by far my favorite exhibition so far on this trip. (click the link “view exhibition photos). Take a look at the firing of the cannon video. By the end of the show the room will be filled with wax and I found this both a strangely exciting and silly experience. Kapoor gives us a once in a life time sensuous experience of cherry red lacquer and gooey oil and wax and ultra shiny surfaces that distorted the room and those in it. It is monumental in scale especially a large H.G. Wells type construction of massive rusted steel which might have been a cross between a time machine and submarine hull with lovely curves and seductive opening. I don’t think I can do justice to describing the giant train-like object that ran on rails blocking five huge gallery spaces and appearing to squeeze through three doorways leaving trails of red wax and oil everywhere. The giant depression in the wall which was a very pure yellow was phenomenal…a Zen experience which was on a level with his first powdered pigment pieces. A few of these were on show and were very disappointing. I don’t know if they were just bad versions or if he has moved on so far from these that they just seemed rather pathetic. I think it might be my first impression of the mirror balls as you come into the courtyard of the Royal Academy that will stick with me (and is the new wallpaper on my cell phone). I was most impressed with the Royal Academy for letting him do major construction and destruction to their rooms. No photo can do them justice. You have to experience them to feel their grandeur. London is all a buzz about this show and it is the one thing everyone agrees you should not miss. Plan a trip to London by Dec 10 if you possibly can.
I also want to mention the Charette held Sept 11-13 held at the New School of Architecture by Synergy Arts Foundation for Affordable Work/Live Space For Artists & Arts Organizations. I received a complete report on this from Naomi Nussbaum. The first 120 participants were divided into 16 groups to discuss development of the nine sites. On day 2, 40 people continued to develop these ideas and they made presentations with sketches, floor plans etc. on day 3. Finally all the participants were asked to give five goals for Work/Live spaces and a master list of these was compiled. They range from Community centers to community outreach to building design to personal space to finance and include lots of miscellaneous information as well. Hopefully the full report and results will be available for all to see soon.