If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, the adage goes. And yet, a machine as seasoned as The Review Panel can always do with a tweak or an oiling: change of locale or demographics call for a response, and tried and tested rules need to be broken once in a while, if only to remind oneself of what occasioned them in the first place.
In Philadelphia, where the panel starts its fifth annual season next week, attendance reflects the host venue, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, with its lively student body. The intention has always been to serve the broader artistic community of Philadelphia, and efforts at outreach continue, but in the meantime there is a new determination to garner greater audience participation. One way to do that is a smaller panel, with two guests instead of three joining David Cohen on the podium, with more time put aside for questions and comments from the floor. Cohen’s guests November 2 are the artist Colleen Asper, who teaches at PAFA and whose own work is currently on view, in New York, at On Stellar Rays; and series veteran Judith Stein, glorying in the reception of her recently published and long awaited biography of Richard Bellamy, reviewed in these pages.
And in New York, for the November 18 panel at Brooklyn Public Library, a cherished rule is to be put aside. When selecting shows for discussion, usually four, there is a strict requirement that we be looking at “a recent body of work” by a single, living artist. If a panel comes down hard on a show, the “victim” has time to improve! But what happens to a retrospective in such circumstances? It so happened, however, that when the long list was sent to guests Zoë Lescave, Nancy Princenthal and Christian Viveros-Fauné and retrospectives hadn’t been weeded out, the consistent choices were for career surveys. So, Cohen and his guests will look at two artists only, dwelling for longer on each on the basis that a whole career survey needs careful unpackaging, and that attention will also dwell on the curatorial endeavor. The exhibitions are by Kerry James Marshall at Met Breuer and Marilyn Minter at the Brooklyn Museum.
Another rule broken: confusing the roles of artist and critic. But Colleen Asper’s yoga poses seem the perfect metaphor for The Review Panel’s disciplined stretches.
For full roster of shows discussed at both venues, please see Review Panel Newsprint