Thursday, January 19, 2012

Welcome to Arterpillar

This is a monarch pupa, but I think there's an Arterpillar in there.
Last June, I interviewed local artist Aran S. Graham, who discussed the challenges of exhibiting art in a period of what he called "art regurgitation."

“Postmodernism is essentially about taking old ideas and images and presenting them again in a new way,” he remarked. “In a sense, everyone is copying or stealing. The question is about which artists are aware of that and which ones aren’t or are in denial about it.”

Graham, who considered himself in the former group, theorized that some artists, in the absence of new ideas, strive for authenticity and craftsmanship, while others become the kind of conceptual artists he called “the dark side of the force.”

As he put it, “They’re the hacks who take everyday objects that they didn’t even make, splay them about on the floors, walls and ceilings of stuffy galleries and try to convince people that there’s a profound, elusive statement being made. It doesn’t take more than a few seconds speaking with these people and their supporters, or reading their artist statements, before you realize they’re just making it all up after the fact. You’ll find they speak only in haughty gibberish, and their patrons are really just there for the free snacks.”

His comments seemed inflammatory, yet intriguing. ... and the part about "gibberish" and "making it all up after the fact" stuck with me.

Over more than two decades of working for a news organization, I've received many art show press releases and artist statements that read like gibberish. I've also talked to artists who prefer not to address a body of work until they've completed it, and even then may struggle with explanations.

I believe that art, for many, is a process. The act of making a painting, sculpture, video, installation or simply writing one paragraph after another, forces us to slow down and contemplate things we're generally too busy to consider. Often we're feeling our way through something, doing what our intuition is guiding us to do and figuring out why as we go along, or sometimes even after the fact. 

These are the things I found myself thinking about as I prepared to launch my new project, the sequel to my old one —ArtMurmur.

Two months ago, after 26 years at the Tribune Company (more than 20 of them with City Link) I left my job. I realize that in this "you're-darn-lucky-just-to-have-a-job" era, that may seem a crazy thing to do, but it felt right.

Like many companies, ours had been through its share of changes and layoffs, and with layoffs come increased duties and often large changes in job descriptions.  Mine, thanks to people many rungs up the ladder from me, was being rewritten into a position that I could do, but probably wouldn't have applied for and in all honesty, didn't really want. What I really wanted to do was continue writing about art and the people who create it. That's what I truly love.

So I decided to do that on my own through freelance art writing under a brand new name. I made a list of name possibilities but the only one that brought a smile to my face was Arterpillar, because I love art, caterpillars and weird little made-up words ... and it just felt right. 

I hoped to have a meaningful story to share about the name  ... something about pupas, monarchs, long journeys and transformations, but in the end I haven't figured it all out yet. In truth, I'm making it up as I go along, or maybe even after the fact. Like a monarch caterpillar, which has six pairs of eyes but very poor sight, I don't have a complete vision yet, but my antennas are up and I'm feeling my way through it.

I hope you'll share my journey.

This blog will continue to evolve, but for starters we'll have a South Florida Arts Guide (user-friendly and broken down by county) as well as frequent posts about local art news, art blogs, videos, artist opportunities and soon, links to local arts organizations and photo galleries of art shows.

Also, I'll still be writing art features for print publications on a freelance basis, starting with the Sun-Sentinel's new Showtime in early February..

As my former City Link editor Jake Cline, explained in the weekly last month: "Following the Dec. 28 issue of City Link, Volume 22, No. 1, the magazine as you know it — as we know it — will be no more. It's changing. Again. The Sun-Sentinel, City Link's parent company, is merging the magazine with Showtime, the daily newspaper's long-running entertainment guide. The resulting publication will offer a strong commitment to covering South Florida's arts, entertainment and cultural scenes, with an emphasis on music, restaurants, visual arts, bars and nightclubs, theater, gambling and movies. It will appear, as does the current Showtime, in the Friday edition of the Sun-Sentinel and will be distributed to the same locations where you currently pick up City Link. I'm going to edit it."

I'll be writing some of the art stories for the new Showtime, and eventually other publications as well. Meanwhile, you will find my posts, art guide and links to my stories right here on Arterpillar.

Welcome. Make yourself at home. Please stay awhile, and enjoy the free snacks.

P.S. - The lovely caterpillar and pupa pics were provided by Alyson Gold. To view more of her work, visit

1 comment:

  1. Brilliant start to the blog! The art scene in South Florida has gone through a great evolution in the past couple years, and I'm looking forward to following your take on it.