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Concerning both Lance Kinz’s letter and Fred Camper’s response [May 18]: I find it sadly comical that Camper thinks his reviews for Feigen Gallery are worth their weight in relation to Kinz’s clear statement about leaving Chicago in part due to “no interesting art writing.” Why does Chicago have so few and good critics? Why do larger art magazines like Art in America and Artforum only have one writer each from Chicago but numerous in other cities? (And if you aren’t good buddies with Snodgrass or Yood, then forget ever being written about regardless of your work.) Why are Chicago critics so mediumistic and only write about their favorite medium? Why does all photography have to pass by NewCity’s Michael Weinstein or not at all? What Wesley Kimler ranted about in the Reader in 1998 is still true. Everyone is talking about the vitalized art scene north of Greek Town but these new galleries are courting young, undeveloped BFA students from UIC and not-even-graduated Northwestern MFA students, while blue-collar anger still exists towards SAIC students, who in turn regularly leave for the coasts upon graduation. The New Art Examiner just got a raise [Culture Club, April 27], but how far will that money go until they are right back where they started if they continue to pay (the same group of) writers so little? What kind of writing is worth such pennies? This is no way to treat artists or viewers. As Deanna Isaacs and Fred Camper mentioned in recent Reader articles [Culture Club and Calendar, May 11], various Chicago expat galleries didn’t even apply to Art Expo. But why would they? These top-notch spaces left Chicago for a reason. Why would they come back to beat the dead horse of an art community whose most recognizable action is mass exodus? As an artist, I’m in love with Chicago, but too often it doesn’t seem reciprocated. Why does it take outsiders to support Chicagoland artists? While the local and state cultural departments ridiculously require artists to fill out a billion forms for 500 bucks, the San Francisco-based ArtCouncil hands over $106,000 (plus an exhibition) to 15 worthy strugglers. Those amounts can truly help an artist. What an amazing thing for a wealthy man to do something with his excess cash rather than stock up on expensive goods. ArtCouncil deserves our greatest thanks for believing in our artists more than we do.
Will the west coast shame us into similar private funding of Chicago artists? Are Chicagoans afraid that if their artists get “too good” they’ll leave for greener pastures with more prestigious showing, selling, and granting opportunities? What frightens me is that I can’t have an honest discussion about these issues without most folks becoming highly defensive (“If you don’t like it, then leave” mentality). This only creates more barriers between artists, curators, gallerists, and collectors, and what good will come from that?