Local art criticism and other digressions

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Post from Sid Sachs

[Sid is responding to a series of posts. The last one was here.]

The current situation is the best artistic climate in Philadelphia that I can remember. It has never been perfect. There isn’t the density of critics with objectivity (and passion) that other cities might have. Criticism pays less than poetry. You have to be serious to be serious (image, an Agnes Martin painting).

I understand the need for artists to express themselves and to write. I was first published 25 years ago. It’s not been there done that but it is a matter of still trying.

However there is a lack here of real writing with a larger worldview and depth. Did anyone notice the difference between the obituaries of Agnes Martin and Susan Sontag in the Philadelphia Inquirer versus The New York Times? I learned of Martin’s death first through Artblog.

But none of the obits mentioned how important the ICA show was to Martin working again–and the importance of Suzanne Delahanty and Dan Dietrich in that process. Carrie Rickey’s Sontag obituary [in the Inquirer] was fantastic and large and front page but nowhere near the coverage in the Times. There was also a moving essay by Gary Indiana in the Village Voice.

Now I don’t think of Sontag as a New Yorker but a national writer. Her ideas affected us all. Why was there not the same coverage and celebration of her life in our press including the Philadelphia freebies? We all have to take responsibility for the situation that we have and have created. If that sounds patronizing it is not meant to be.

I don’t think there is only one type of curator anywhere. Those who know me might have heard me define myself as a “lapsed artist”. I truly think that way. I don’t think that geography is destiny but it does affect us all. A worldview is just that.

If there are not enough for your needs you must invent them. I didn’t mean nor did I say work in silence. Raise hell. “Not to feel the terrible burden of Time weighing on your shoulders and bowing you to the earth, you should be drunk without respite.”

–Sid Sachs is gallery director of Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery at the University of the Arts.

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