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Wick Allison Answers His Critics


by Jerome Weeks 12 Jun 2009

Over the last two weeks, while D publisher Wick Allison was out of the office, Christina Rees at Glasstire and Lucia Simek at Renegade Bus objected to Allison’s new baby, the D Art Slam. Specifically, they took him to task for making grand claims for the show and its artists, for supposedly dismissing ‘credentials’ as […]

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Over the last two weeks, while D publisher Wick Allison was out of the office, Christina Rees at Glasstire and Lucia Simek at Renegade Bus objected to Allison’s new baby, the D Art Slam. Specifically, they took him to task for making grand claims for the show and its artists, for supposedly dismissing ‘credentials’ as any guide to a gallery and the artists it represents and for essentially poaching on local galleries (while more or less blaming the galleries for not recognizing the best art in the area). You can read my summation and evaluation here.

Now that he’s back, Allison replies to these objections on the Frontburner blog. On the charge that he stated the  gallery owner’s credentials didn’t mean much:

[My] concern was with the “professionalizing” of art, not with galleries. My point has to do with MFA degrees and ‘qualifications,”  not with those gifted with a good enough eye to pick out the best art and promote it. My advice was to judge art by the art, not by the artist’s credentials. Perhaps I did not make myself clear, but on re-reading it, it’s clear enough to me.

On the charge that the work in D Art Slam was hardly the best around:

I think even most of the artists at the Slam might reluctantly agree with that. I overstated the case, and she’s right to call me on it. I should have modified the claim and regret that I didn’t.

On the charge of pandering to the bad taste of the local wealthy, he gets a little seigneurial:

Reverse snobbery is one of the plagues of the art world. From this statement, I take it that Simek has a very low opinion of wealthy people and their tastes. I would advise her to broaden her circle of friends. She may discover that wealth does not necessarily correlate with lack of education, refinement or discrimination.

And for the other charges that came up in the comments posted to Simek’s piece: the Slam was actually well attended (paid attendance was more than 2100) and there was a jury making admission choices (although he admits the point was to get as many artists in as possible).

But to the charge of D magazine’s having a tradition of “pay-for-play” policies, Mr. Allison becomes incensed and recommends that the poster retract the statement or face legal consequences.

Which — in case you haven’t been paying attention — is a nifty demonstration of one reason Fronterburner no longer permits comments on its posts (see my comment posted to my own post).

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