Wednesday, July 06, 2005


Few things make me madder than someone patronizing me. Here's the Assistant Style Section editor's answer to my question:

Question: By the time that one adds up commercial art galleries, non-profit art galleries, alternative art spaces, embassy galleries, and cultural art center galleries, there are over 100 new art shows every month in the Greater Washington, D.C. area, making it one of the largest and most active visual art scenes in the nation.

And yet the Style section has diminished its already dismal gallery art coverage to a twice a month schedule by Jessica Dawson. And The Post's Chief Art Critic (Blake Gopnik) focuses exclusively on museum shows, and does not review local art galleries. By comparison, his colleagues at the NY Times and LA Times (for example) review both museums and their cities' local galleries. The Arts Beat column also focuses on arts news events and rarely on local galleries.

What can the Style section do to improve local gallery coverage, say to the same (or even 50%) of the level as local theatre coverage (which is covered in Style on a nearly daily basis)?

Steve Reiss: I understand that no one likes to hear that their gallery show isn't going to get reviewed. But while we've got a lot of talented critics and reporters in the Style section (Thank you, Don Graham!), we don't have enough people or money to cover everything we would like to and we have to make choices. Some of those choices are based on quality, some are based on popularity, some are based on the interests of the individual critics. A while back, we reconfigured one of Jessica Dawson's monthly columns so it would feature a half-dozen galleries instead of just one or two. As for Blake Gopnik, he is a prolific writer and I find it hard to argue that we should be giving up reviews of major museum shows so he can write more about galleries that have a much smaller audience.
Now, do you see why this is a losing battle for our area's art galleries and our visual artists, when these sort of answers are being given?

By the way, the Jessica Dawson "reconfiguration" so that it would "feature a half-dozen galleries instead of just one or two:"

(a) predates Style reducing her coverage from weekly to twice-a-month, and

(b) I suspect was made by the WaPo following a suggestion that I discussed with their Arts Editor (a really nice guy and a very hardworking editor named John Pancake) when Ferd Protzman left the Galleries column... as a means to review more galleries.

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