Even with the increased attention that publications like vita.mn and the other weeklies have been giving to the arts lately, there has been quite a bit of talk about the lack of real arts reporting in our local media. MPR devoted a recent Midmorning broadcast to the topic of declining arts coverage in a discussion with Douglas McLennan, editor of the arts aggregator ArtsJournal.com. When asked about the Twin Cities, Mr. McLennan generally skirted the question but did offer the opinion that there was little indication of the true culture here. He also spoke pointedly against writing that acts simply as a ‘cheerleader’ for the arts.
There is a distinct difference between arts coverage and arts criticism. Arts features, particularly related to the visual arts and gallery shows, do a great service in garnering attention for all the hard work that artists and gallery owners in Minneapolis do to bring art to the public but a feature is not a critique and rarely are we offered any real, thoughtful analysis of an artist’s work.
Just as art should challenge us as viewers, the artists need challenging as well in order to accurately and properly reflect the culture around them. They need to hear our opinions, questions and critiques or we all become nothing more than cheerleaders.
It is with that idea in mind that we have asked Mark Wojahn, a member of the visual arts critics union VACUM, to offer a critique of Ben Olson’s solo show at Rogue Buddha. In the interest of full disclosure, the review we will be posting later today was solicited by mplsart.com, Ben Olson is a featured artist on the site and the subject of his work is Emma Berg, his wife and founder/director of mplsart.com. It should also be made clear that any review we post now or in the future will remain unedited and printed in full, regardless of the position of the critic.
We believe strongly that a critical dialogue is needed amongst artists in Minneapolis and we hope that you will join in that dialogue with your comments here.