Friday, October 03, 2008


For years now I have been bitching about the visual arts coverage decline in the Washington Post, which started many years ago and which was essentially destroyed while Eugene Robinson was the editor of the Style section.

But this piece on KISS's Paul Stanley will be remembered as the proverbial camel backbreaker:

Perhaps it was inevitable. Paul Stanley -- known for wearing red lipstick, white foundation and a black star over his right eye -- has transferred his makeup skills to canvas. The Kiss frontman has a booming art career, to the tune of $2 million in sales last year, and will visit the D.C. area next week when his paintings go on display at Wentworth Gallery in Tysons Galleria.
I am embarrassed the the nation's capital has a newspaper that allows the distribution of drivel like this:
An original Paul Stanley can sell for about $70,000; a small print goes for $1,000, though Stanley insists on calling it a " 'limited-edition giclée,' because 'print' sounds like something you tore out of a magazine." His customers range from Kiss diehards who don't go to art galleries often (or ever) to collectors who wouldn't dream of attending a metal concert. He has had about 18 gallery shows over the past 18 months.
This is not an anti Paul Stanley rant, whom I suspect is an adequate painter clearly employing his celebrity status to hawk artwork, nor is it a dig at the article's author, whom I am sure responds to the paper's pressure to write articles (in an art column) that focus on celebrities whenever possible. This is certainly not a dig at the hardworking and highly successful Wentworth businesses, all 31 of them across the nation. If you want wall decor by Peter Max, Alexandra Nechita, Paul Stanley, Charles Fazzino, David Schluss and Grace Slick, they're your place!

This rant is a vomiting on the leadership of a newspaper that does not understand, nor wishes to understand, the reasons that many people like me, feel that they have failed miserably to execute their role and mission when it comes to the arts. Read the article here.

And if you think I am being tough on the WaPo, you should see what madman Bailey is saying. Read it here.

Paul Stanley on his art...


Anonymous said...

I found the video to be pretty funny.

What isn't funny is that the Washington Post and many other newspapers (including the City Paper) either have non-existent or simply TERRIBLE coverage of the D.C. arts scene.

On the other hand, this leaves a market for someone creative and entrepreneurial to start a rag devoted to the D.C. arts scene. No good competition, I'll tell you that!

Unknown said...

Preaching to the choir, Lenny. Keep on keepin' on!

With all of the good artists here, and especially with the recent local selections at Littelton and Tate's foray into national collecting status, you'd think the WaPo folks could bother to cover local arts.

Their lack of coverage is a real embarrassment.

Anonymous said...

A couple of thoughts: one, I think we start getting into trouble when we expect what is essentially a public info/service business - a newspaper - to adhere to a certain role and mission when it comes to covering the arts. I'm not saying that it isn't possible or that we haven't had excellent writers in the past, it's just that for the most part, any good criticism has become so secular and self-serving to all the players involved - artists, galleries, museums, collectors and even bloggers etc. - that it is indeed preaching to the choir. I would turn the finger pointing around towards those same individuals who have sequestered art and its machinations into a castaway activity unrelated to society's day to day existence. Or to put it bluntly, who reads about art in the newspaper these days? The importance of that writing is only equal to the affect it has on an individual concerned by it - which is none on the non-art public.

Secondly, honestly, who cares about Paul Stanley? I mean how is his artwork going to affect our art making practices, sales, reviews, or any other related activity we do? It's not, not anymore than Hirst's latest auction. That it is a waste for a newspaper to cover such inane artwork, I agree, but to believe that they have some unwritten responsibility to review something "better" or more substantial (our picks would be limitless) is to assume they care about doing so.

Anonymous said...

"Adequate painter" come on Lenny. You know that's not true. He paints with the technique and ideas of an average high school art nerd.

The post must have lost all taste to promote this trash. However print journalism is gasping for air so they have to pay the bills somehow.