This is not a Facebook page

peter campus2

A viewer’s profile in a work by Peter Campus at Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery in December 2012.

Last year I commented to a friend that there were actually a few advantages to being too old to pass for a student: the familiar chill of the galleries had begun to thaw. I had even developed a good rapport with some, which improved if I was publishing a review. All that ended this fall: aloofness once again permeated many galleries. Why? I still write for BOMB and other magazines but I have also moved my column to my own site. My writing is the same if not better with exposure and blogs are not a new phenomenon, so what has changed?

A new arts blog gave me a clue: the writer flits from one artist to the next like a fly in a bakery. Observations are fresh but no more than a surface lick before moving on to the next bit of icing. It’s little more than a Facebook page – hey, friends! It’s me! A splash of ice water on my face…is this the chill? If galleries have come to expect little else of blogs today then no wonder they lower the portcullis to online bloggers. The democracy of the Internet affords opportunity in abundance but does not guarantee credibility.

Reputations in the art world are vigorously defended. I owe respect to the artists whose work I write about but I look for a modicum in return. Perhaps I’ll have to suspend that expectation. Galleries, curators, and artists have a right to prioritize their time and resources. I’m less interested in recognition than in the substantive conversation I can foster about aesthetics and ideas that artwork generates. For this I need participation from an entire network of players but it will be hard earned. When it is forthcoming – THANK YOU!

Is there any value to these playful, casual blogs with frequent updates? Sure, but arts writing is not a Facebook page and writing that is should not pretend otherwise.

Kathleen MacQueen, January 14, 2013,

One comment

  1. Of course cause and effect are often more opaque than I make out. There is so much we cannot know and any number of factors could be involved. The galleries of Chelsea specifically were overwhelmed by the flood surge of hurricane Sandy this fall. Past misunderstandings and resentments can also flare up when least expected. Relations are horrifically complicated. Last year on a panel addressing gallery/artist relations, one participant admitted that the best lesson he had learned over the years was to forget. There seemed to be a broad sense of discretion behind his remark.