Lamentation and Melancholy

Hello my friends,

I picked up my LA Times the other morning and read of the demise of art criticism at the LA Weekly. Well, to be honest I read about this in the Times’ Culture Monster the night before (it is my custom to check this and a few others before I shut down) and then again on paper after the comics in the morning (another of my customary behaviors).

I won’t whine and I won’t castigate a business that is trying to make money.

Well, I will too whine, a little. “Rough sledding” the publisher called Doug Harvey’s writing. And by implication any such writing.

Really? Academic? It’s art criticism for crying out loud. God. By nature writing expects a certain sophistication of an audience. When we aren’t sufficiently sophisticated on a subject we look things up. That’s why we read!!! To learn!!!!! If I only read what I already know well, ick – who wants that kind of world?????

Sir, Mr-Publisher-Guy, your audience is going to disappear. In an entertained to non-existence, anti intellectual barren soul-hole of navel-gazing. And you’re helping them along. Oooh.

There is a creepy vacuum developing where there should be writing about ideas and historical precedents, thoughtful considerations of the slow shift and development of artists’ careers, high points and lacunae in the collections and exhibitions of local museums, honest praise for honest work by one or another Los Angeles curator or artist – we who have so much (and many) in the way of artists, musicians, practitioners and cultural producers are losing our scribes – we are losing a vital link to the world and…….. to history.

The LA Weekly had been publishing valuable art and music criticism since…. well, I go back to 1979 and they were doing it then, so let’s just say “a very long time ago.”

Do you subscribe to the LA Times? If your show gets a review – are you more excited if it’s in the newspaper, a magazine, or on a blog or web service? Hmm? So now tell me, do you subscribe to anything? Anything local?

Um, you do know that digital information isn’t permanent, don’t you? Blog posts disappear with the whim of the blogger, websites change direction and text goes missing, after a while if one doesn’t keep the data up to date and one stops paying for the domain – it’s all gone.

Print really does matter. I say this as a blogger. Printed stuff from our own city matters a great deal.

We’re not going to solve the seemingly insurmountable troubles of the publishing world. I’m not issuing a call to arms. What I am going to do is link to a bunch of the formerly printed LA Weekly reviews and articles so we can read them again. While they last on the website, that is.

Doug Harvey on John Baldessari Pure Beauty, August, 2010.

Harvey offers a lead in to Amanda Ross-Ho’s recent exhibition at Cherry and Martin in this May, 2010 article.

Doug gives us what many people consider to be the most complete consideration of one of Los Angeles’ most enduring and important artists, Steve Roden in Unfinished Symphony, from September, 2010.

(It is now 1:03 pm on Tuesday, Dec 28. God help me I’ll be back after work for a bit to post more and some images.)



PS – Yes I am aware of the weirdness of crying about text and then hyperlinking for evidence. I cherish, indeed flourish with internal conflict and contradiction. Crazy life – I love it.

(12-29-10 at lunch. Oh phooey. No more to say, on to other things.)

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