Enter the critic
Post #1380 • August 17, 2009, 11:41 AM • 45 Comments
Today sees the launch of Kung Fu Art Critic, with a new review and a couple of old ones from April just to get the ball rolling. Henceforth, I'm going to publish art criticism there. Artblog.net will continue as a studio journal.
The reasons for this decision are several. The most pressing one was a deadline for submissions to A Summit on Arts Journalism, which, as they put it, is "looking for sustainable new models that have the potential to support arts journalism." Much of the rationale for Kung Fu Art Critic has been explained at the site's NAJP submission page, but there's some background story as well.
Blogging has changed quite a lot since I started doing it back in 2001. Then, readers expected a melange of content, and it was no trouble to switch from criticism to studio journal to talking about the family cat. Now, there are millions of such melanges, hundreds of thousands with an art theme. The switches back and forth from studio journal to criticism, in particular, is cutting Artblog.net off from opportunities to support itself. The NAJP is specifically looking for art journalism and criticism projects, as was the Creative Capital/Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant Program (to which I submitted an entirely different project). This is to say nothing of potential advertisers, to whom it is difficult to explain who is reading Artblog.net and why. Blogging itself has become so ubiquitous as to merit no notice as a distinct medium. The benefit of being a blog, as opposed to some other kind of site, has faded accordingly.
Too, the time has come for me to develop a separate Web presence as an art writer. At this point there's no harm in my telling you that the next issue of the New Criterion will feature a review I wrote, which will be my first appearance in print in quite some time, and my first ever at a publication with such a large readership. I plan to leverage that piece as I seek more writing work, and use that in turn to draw attention to my digitally self-published writing. That calculus becomes simpler with an all-writing site to refer to, and a commensurately focused professional identity. That goes for my art as well - Artblog.net, so I'm told, is categorized by Alexa as an artist site. So be it; the art and studio concerns shall appear there as I pursue my art career.
The work I did on revamping the Artblog.net content management system back in April made it abundantly clear that the site was too heavily kludged to update. With nigh 1400 posts and associated comments in a screwball format, it would have taken months of dedicated effort and the result would have smashed every incoming deep link in its six-year history. The new site is 135 lines of Python, uses clean URLS, tracks posts in a legitimate database, and stores them as HTML. It's built to last. It does not, however, take comments. After much reflection, I've decided to go the way of other writers I admire, notably Terry Teachout and Andrew Sullivan, and take comments in the form of e-mail and republish them as interest warrants. I have become sufficiently busy to have to choose between the work that goes into maintaining a community and the work that goes into producing content. The latter, I believe, is likely to prove more fruitful at this point. Besides, I have set the all-time record for comments at an art blog, 488 of them on a single post. Time to find other peaks to climb.
That anyone reads what I have to say is an honor, so above all, thank you. I hope you enjoy the new project as much as I'm looking forward to pursuing it.