In the cities of the Rust Belt, arts writing is distinguished by how much of it there isn’t. The upper mid-west is thought of -when it’s thought of at all-by the art establishment on the coasts as a cultural backwater. But we all know that there are many, many artists living and making and showing their art here. Much of the work is good, some of it great. But because regional arts writing is so scarce, artists often don’t get the attention their work deserves. Artists with ambitions to acquire a broad audience are forced to decamp for New York or L.A. (or at least Chicago) to get a viewing.
The Rust Belt’s woeful shortage of thoughtful arts writing is the result of a number of unfortunate historical facts and technological trends. The financial hardships of mainline news media have forced them to re-organize as online platforms with unsteady revenue streams. Legacy newspapers like the Detroit News, the Detroit Free Press, and the Ann Arbor News, never enthusiastic commentators on the visual arts of the region in any case, have eliminated staff writers who covered the cultural scene. In some cases these writers have been replaced by unpaid or poorly paid online stringers. Often they haven’t been replaced at all. In this critical vacuum, the arts ecosystem in the northern mid-west lacks the intellectual oxygen that allows it to breathe and grow. And most importantly for artists, without arts writers to provide context for the art consuming public, there is no consensus – or even discussion – on the relative importance, interest or value of various artists and approaches to art.
But there’s no reason this has to be the story of Rust Belt art commentary going forward. There are a few online and/or print arts magazines such as Hyperallergic, Flashart, Art in America and Artfixdaily that write occasionally about art news here in Southeast Michigan.
More importantly there are now a few fairly new blogs and websites that cover artists and the arts in Detroit and environs. Herewith a list:
- http://essayd.org/– long form essays on outstanding Detroit artists (soon to be published in book form)
- http://infinitemiledetroit.com – “a journal of art and culture(s) in Detroit”
- http://www.knightfoundation.org/blogs -art news and art reviews
- ZIPR -calls itself “Detroit’s true source for art, culture, and everything in between.”
And if you just want a comprehensive listing of art exhibits and events go to: http://artdetroitnow.com/
I’d love to hear from readers of this post about any other arts blogs or online journals. Just send me the link and I’ll post!