Monday, September 24th, 2012

Far From The Rolling Queue: The Lingering Virtues of Art Blogs

Another installment of our column, BOOKMARKED, in which artists, critics, collectors et al. share and comment on their favorite blogs and art-related sites.  Present company – artcritical – is taken as read!

Mira Schor's blog, A Year of Positive Thinking
Mira Schor’s blog, A Year of Positive Thinking

Yes, we’re all reading non-stop mashups of images and ideas on Facebook. I like the immediacy of the scroll and the occasional real-time discussions that take place—these days, mostly about politics—but when it comes to viewing art and reading about it, short of the gallery or museum experience, I still prefer blogs. For this installment of Bookmarked, I have selected four blogs I visit regularly, all different from one another in form and content, but each one deeply satisfying.

Henry Samelson’s Buddy of Work has an interesting premise: inviting artists to submit “an example of their primary work alongside an example of their peripheral (buddy) work.” The format allows us to see the connections in an artist’s work, a window that’s pried open a bit wider by the words each artist shares about the pairing. Gelah Penn shows an installation and a work on paper; Lori Ellison, a drawing and a poem; Katherine Bradford, a small oil of a stack of syrupy pancakes and the same subject painted large on a construction wall in DUMBO. The viewing is addictive. Karl Bielik pairs a chromatic gestural abstraction with a moody black-and-white video of his band, Lark, while Emily Auchincloss’s painting and potholder pairing is a lark, sharing an unexpected compositional thread. Over 70 artists have participated since Samuelson started the blog early this year.

A different kind of pairing take place in Chris Ashley’s long-running Look See. The Oakland-based artist alternates his HTML drawings—digital minimalist compositions created by computer code and made for viewing on a monitor—with photographs he has taken in his travels. I find Ashley’s unpretentious views of nature personal and quirky, but truth to tell, it’s the color-saturated HTML drawings I log on to see.

Mira Schor’s A Year of Positive Thinking, now in its second year, is wordier and thinkier than the average blog. Feminism looms large, intertwined with politics and art. To read it properly you need time, but you will be rewarded with long pieces on Louise Bourgeois, for instance, or a three-part consideration of cave paintings inspired by Werner Herzog’s film, Cave of Forgotten Dreams.  Don’t take forever to get there, though; Schor’s “year” may be drawing to a close. “I intend to continue for a while longer,” she writes, “although other writing projects I’ve been germinating may claim my attention.”

With art coverage on the decline in conventional media, Roberta Fallon and Libby Rosof’s The Artblog is a model of how to write about a city’s art scene. The city is Philadelphia. Fallon and Rosof, both artists, along with a staff that includes art historian Andrea Kirsh and a number of contributing writers, offer reviews, picks, features, interviews and podcasts. The format, with seven opening-paragraph teasers on the home page, is now more magazine than blog, a testament to the big need this online publication is filling. If you’re planning a trip to Philly, this is your guide. But you may want to log on even if you’re not headed that way, just because it’s a good read—and there’s plenty of international coverage in there, too.

Unlike the rolling queue of social media, blogs offer their content for the long haul, archived and accessible. There’s context. I can linger.

Joanne Mattera, Diamond Life 22, 2012. Encaustic on panel, 25 x 25 inches.  Courtesy of the Artist
Joanne Mattera, Diamond Life 22, 2012. Encaustic on panel, 25 x 25 inches. Courtesy of the Artist


Joanne Mattera is a widely exhibited painter who works in a chromatically resonant and reductive style she calls “lush minimalism.”  She is represented in New York City by DM Contemporary. Her work is in the collections of the New Britain Museum of American Art, (Connecticut), and the Montclair Art Museum (New Jersey); at the latter it can be seen in “Patterns, Systems, Structures:

Abstraction in American Art,” curated by Gail Stavitsky, through early 2013. In her Joanne Mattera Art Blog she reports on exhibitions in New York City and wherever she travels, including the Miami art fairs in December. Mattera divides her time between Manhattan and Massachusetts.