Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Way of the Dinosaurs

Many of you know that I work for a local publication. Many of you have also commented to me on the topics/artists/etc…that we cover. One friend in fact, finds it endlessly amusing to tease me about a particularly windy story on watergardens that I penned.

However, other, less kind things have been said to me: to my face, in my home, while consuming my wine. From the conjecture that I’ve slept with interviewees who garner more than one article in a season or year, to the idea that—as a writer—I am only capable of regurgitating an artist’s thesis, or, that I lurk around the scene attempting to write “exposes” on locally infamous artists, people feel comfortable, and justified saying all kinds of things.

I can only imagine the kinds of things said behind closed doors…and that, really, is fine.

However, when I ran across this article a couple of days ago, I couldn’t stop thinking about it, because it basically confirms those things about print media’s relationship to art, that everyone already suspects to be true.

These include young attractive artists, artists with gimmicks, artists whose sales break records, and a host of other "sensational" reasons are the people that get covered. Which of course leads to artists who actively seek these sorts of things/situations out, creating a distrust between the viewing public, writers and even other artists.

However, this is not an attempt to foist the faults of the critical system onto artists. Many daily newspapers have been forced to cut back on staff and consolidate duties, so now the same guy who writes knowledgably about music is trying to wrap his head around art (incidentally John Updike often rails in the New Yorker about art/architecture he hates. Good, if occationally uninformed stuff), it’s a formula designed to fail. And if not fail, then languish in the “human interest,” category...somewhere between AP celebrity feeds and community columnists.

By no means is this a blanket statement; it stands to reason that there are probably more writers out there fighting for stories that newer see print than the public can give them credit for. But, because newspapers and print media occupy an idealistic place in culture, we are doubly disappointed and angered when dubious and self-serving relationships are revealed. Then the credibilty of a publication gets undermined and an endless cycle begins.

And sometimes, speaking from personal experience, you get tired of trying to fight the good fight...and go start a navel-gazing blog.

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