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DC art critic comes out swinging!

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Jeffry Cudlin Goes Yard

That’s new baseball talk (new to me) for hitting a home run. The current issue of the Washington City Paper has Cudlin’s review of the area’s visual arts year gone by.

And I’ll be damned if Cudlin doesn’t just hit a very readable homer, but also throws a couple of tight fastballs (awright, awright… enough with the baseball talk).

On Blake Gopnik:

“Ostensibly, Blake Gopnik is the Washington Post’s art critic of note. But his coverage of the art scene this year has seemed less concerned with Washington than with a certain city to the north: He wrote a travelogue on the galleries of Chelsea, and he recently began conducting studio visits with artists living and working in Brooklyn. Still, certain D.C. events were on Gopnik’s mind, if not on his itinerary. We could count on him to draw attention to anything confirming his worst suspicions about his occasional hometown — say, those PandaMania bears, or, yes, the redundant controversy of Artomatic (in which I participated).”

That was very good, and it takes cojones to say it; and there’s more. Cudlin praises Dixon, references a well-known BLOG and slams Jessica:

“Meanwhile, thoughtful freelance critic Glenn Dixon — the only area reviewer to write on a 19.3 grade level, according to one local art blog — bailed on the Washington City Paper and made an auspicious debut in the Post’s Galleries column. Then he promptly thought better of it and bailed once more —which leaves column readers again with Jessica Dawson and only the blandest publicizing imaginable. But now only twice a month.”

Ouch! I do disagree with Cudlin’s broad characterization of cooperative galleries when he writes that “Numark [Gallery] stands out in a ’hood that’s home to craftsy emporiums such as Zenith Gallery and — even more dubious — pay-to-show member galleries such as Touchstone.”

I disagree 1000% with his characterization of artist-run cooperative galleries.

Cooperative galleries such as Touchstone are not “dubious” and in fact cooperative galleries in this town are some of the oldest galleries in our area, surviving the demise of many private galleris, and have been a breeding ground for many, many artists, who now show in other galleries – including now showing in most of the independent, private commercial fine art galleries mentioned in Cudlin’s article.

In fact, I am told that at least one of those “other” galleries mentioned elsewhere in Cudlin’s article is one that unfortunately has charged artists to exhibit. This is called a “vanity gallery” and it is much different than a cooperative of artists all sharing the costs of running a gallery space. Being a true “vanity gallery” is unethical especially when the gallery pretends to be a “regular” gallery and in private charges artists a fee to exhibit in their spaces. Very unethical.

Otherwise a superb round-up! Read Cudlin’s entire article here.

Bravo Cudlin!

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