Art Review: A Dollop of Grandeur For Your Living Room
I'm trying to warm myself up to the idea of considering myself a critic. I tend to feel more comfortable thinking of myself as a budding "arts writer," a term I did not coin and found pretty readily when searching for an alternative title. Most arts writers are more comfortable with being called such currently.
It fits well when you see your role as largely promotional. I consider myself a tremendous fan of the arts, and even more of local artists and art people. I want to help spread the word about their shows, and help them see, and maybe more importantly, articulate to people what is so interesting, or worthy, or unique, or just great about they work they are doing. The local arts scene is perhaps glamorous from afar, mysterious at least, but a lot of thankless and often un- or underpaid work to execute.
However, everything I learned in crits in art school has lately been gnawing at me. Critiques serve as tests for art classes, and they can be brutal. Your peers gather around you and your work and dissect it. Ideally, they reveal the flaws you're too close to your own work to see for yourself, and it makes your work better. But often, they skewed too fluffy to be helpful, or too cruel to be useful. You have to know the artist and their level of verbal sensitivity, as well as believe their work can be stronger to truly help them improve.
This New Yorker article sums it up pretty well, if you're a super nerd and want to read more about the internal struggle against slimy feelings of being paracitic, and toward a view of criticism as constructive.
My point in this all is saying, to whomever it may concern, that I want to start pointing out areas that could be improved when I see them in my reviews, BECAUSE I love the local art scene, and because I believe I'm doing us all a disservice not to push us a little. Because I believe we can take it. Because I believe we're reaching a point where we need pushed. There are enough of us doing enough really great, really professional and engaging things that it's time to take the conversation further.