Thursday, February 18, 2010

Rx for a Healthy Art Scene: Part 1 - the IMA blog

A few days ago I posted a list by Renny Pritikin on his 23 ingredients needed for a healthy art scene. The first issue I would like to talk about is not actually on the list, but if we are going to be Indy-centric we'll need to adapt the list to our specific needs. For our purposes, I would like to combine number 17 and 18.

17 - we need articulate artist leaders & 18 - we need heroes, iconoclasts, villains (people everyone loves to hate). Essentially, we need someone or something to lead the charge and a centralized location in which to praise, hate, vent about what is happening here locally. For quite some time it appeared the local arts blog On the Cusp might turn out to be just such a place, and in fact it still is a place that at times provides invaluable information and even some criticism from time to time. Unfortunately, with no budget and only volunteer contributors lead by Scott Grow, it becomes nearly impossible to consistently provide relevant information on a regular basis, as noted by the dozen or so posts so far in 2010. Other sites with potential have popped up and most have gone away nearly as fast as they arrived. With one exception - the Indianapolis Museum of Art Blog.

The IMA is a national and international leader in so many areas. From ArtBabble, to 100 Acres, to hosting extraordinary exhibitions in contemporary art and design, certainly the IMA deserves the praise they get from across the globe. What I would like to see is their blog take more of a leadership role in the local community just as their programming is taking a leadership role among other institutions. And since they already keep up with regular posting, they seem to at least have the infrastructure set up to do just that.

They already do some fabulous posts - I'm thinking in particular the posts about acquisitions and conservation - but a serious critique about the arts in Indy is what's needed. From new economic developments that install not very inspiring sculptures outside their shiny new doors, to the local artist that has a fantastic exhibition but gets little traffic, to calling out non-profits and art collectives and galleries that aren't pulling their weight. Yes, an authoritative voice that calls on us all to collectively raise the bar could help work wonders.

This post in particular was inspired by SFMOMA's blog Open Space and their discussion of the possible closing of the 30+ year old non-profit New Langton Arts. Having lived across the street from New Langton it held (and holds) a special place in my heart. Truly a place that had a major impact on my life. But after 3 decades it's mission was in question and some of the groundbreaking exhibitions they were pioneering early on were now being done by the larger institutions like SFMOMA and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. It was the discussion on SFMOMA's blog that asked the tough questions regarding New Langton, like is it still relevant or even necessary in 2010? Indy doesn't have decades-old experimental non-profits like New Langton or Southern Exposure (also in San Francisco) - but it does have a need for a place we can all turn to to discuss our triumphs and our tragedies. And given the time constraints of maintaining a volunteer blog, let alone facebook, twitter, etc., the IMA may be the only place this can happen.

It's certainly not as easy as it sounds - you never know when you might step on a donor's (or potential donor) toes, but I think it's possible. Maybe start by joining with On the Cusp and don't be afraid to piss some people off. It's just a thought, but I think it's a good place to start.

1 comment:

  1. Christopher, my friend - Thank you for your thoughtful comments. We're always interested in refining our communications so that the IMA's mission has the greatest reach possible in our community. The blog team has a lot to discuss and determine. You'll definitely see some changes soon. Stay tuned.