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Art bloggers get no love

December 14, 2009 |  2:00 pm

Creative Capital Warhol

Grants to art writers from New York's Creative Capital/Warhol Foundation were recently announced. Twenty-six mostly N.Y. scribblers were the happy recipients of anywhere between $5,000 and $50,000, designed to help them ply their typically underpaid trade.

The grant program, according to its website, “aims to support the broad spectrum of writing on contemporary visual art, from general-audience criticism to academic scholarship.” The list of 2009 recipients reflects that goal.

Still, one aspect of the announcement took me by surprise. As writers on art, bloggers just don't seem to measure up.

Although the Internet has gobbled up the globe, just one blogger made the cut: Greg Cook, whose estimable New England Journal of Aesthetic Research is produced in the greater Boston suburb of Malden, Mass. The remaining 25 grantees mostly proposed projects for print, including books, magazines, newspapers and other dead-tree media.

In fact, in the four years that Creative Capital/Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grants have been awarded, only three have gone to writers who produce blogs. (You can find the others here and here.) Given a total of 87 grants since 2006, bloggers have racked up less than 4%.That's not a very good ratio.

In fact, it's dismal. While it isn't possible to know which blogs and bloggers applied for grants (or how many of those got tossed out as ineligible because they didn't fit entry criteria), a Creative Capital spokesman tells me that, for 2009, the blog category had 153 applicants. Yikes. Maybe art blogs are generally a waste or only really bad bloggers submit applications or the jury doesn't like the form.

The bad news doesn't stop there. Two successful applicants this year got grants to start blogs. That's a nice vote of confidence in those established writers' abilities, but it also suggests the jury's rather sizable degree of dismay with existing bloggers who applied for assistance.

Is art blogging really that bad?

--Christopher Knight

Logo: Creative Capital/Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant Program

Comments () | Archives (13)


Hungry Hyaena is the only NYC blogger that is interesting and has a sense of life. MAN guy gives good info, but too much attitude and strictly academic in outlook, no creativity or ability to cut through the crap. Reps the status quo.

Like my boy dionysus too, but artnewsblog is down under, much more relaxed attitude towards art, and actually asks real questions, like how do we make art better and more relevant to humanity? Not just about career and how to make a buck brownnosing like Winkie and others, or a flaky nice kid like AFC girl

art collegia delenda est!

that's one theory: art blogging sucks and that's why the poor warhol foundation can't give away it's money. (full disclosure: i got rejected last year and have not reapplied.) but i also think it has something to do with the format of the application... the questions are geared almost entirely at people who produce books/scholarly papers and if i remember correctly, the application only allowed you to submit three (maybe four?) examples of your work (as in three blog posts). how are a few blog posts supposed to offer judges a good way of evaluating the often multiple daily posts of a blogger? (as opposed to an academic who can submit some 10,000 word treatise on whatever.) blogs are a drip-feed. i think they serve a very different purpose than a scholarly book. the application process doesn't really take that into account...

so, as you claim, art blogging could be really bad. or the warhol foundation is simply asking dead-tree questions of a digital crowd...

I have never applied for a Creative Capital/Warhol grant for my widely read art blog, CultureGrrl, because I sometimes cover the Warhol Foundation and some of its authentication activities have been highly controversial. Once I take that money (assuming that I could win the award), I've got a journalistic conflict of interest.

very interesting. Have to bone up on the grammar.

Why on earth would someone need a grant to start a blog? Just get on Wordpress and start one, for heaven's sake! It's not exactly expensive. I suppose if you've got millions of readers then your hosting costs would be a bit grim but it's unlikely that most bloggers are going to instantly have that level of readership, unless they're already celebrities.

@ Kirsty:

If it's cheap to start a blog, it's even cheaper to write a series of articles for a publication, which Warhol also funds. No hosting costs, no buying a digital camera, etc. The point is that BOTH activities if done well require time and research. And that does cost money. If one is to take one's blogging seriously then it certainly helps not to have to work 40 hours a week behind a desk or behind a counter and *then* attempt to go out and see shows, interview artists and read up on background material. Both activities are work and both deserve support when possible.

Blogging is a small business like any other. And like any business, including making art, one must work a real job and do their own on the side. When it gets to the point that the real business needs so much attention and makes enough money to go solo, thats when you know you have something. Til then, its all just dreams and learning. Just like any other business.

Many of us have blogs, William does, I do, though mine is not for daily chit chat and information, but a place to put essays and projects, these others are critics. Not artists. And so always taken with a grain of salt, because the only critics worth a damn are artists themselves, often in other disciplines.

Did i say discipline? My bad, not much of that in art anymore, as paying ones dues is a forgotten art in itself these days. Entitlement issues and instant gratification the words of the day. Witness the constant begging for grants.

Only organizations of communal arts like theatre and museums should get grants, or most importantly taking care of art already made. The Watts/Rodia Towers are LAs greatest work of art, and crumbling as we speak. THAT is the type of art that needs funding, to preserve what is, and we know is great. But taken for granted and scared to visit.

Are you listening Getty? Obviously not. You can spend monies and effort to preserve art across the globe, but not in your own backyard. Disgraceful.

art collegia delenda est
Save the Towers

Cook's blog DOES deserve the grant. Just looked at it, where else you gonna get lots of cool Christmas decorations to a excellent Ivan Albright portrait, dont usually care for that style, but really works here. Very Russian, in its Byzantine like mosaic of grizzled colors. an Icon. Ashcan school meets Vrubel meets Hogarth. Lucian Freud should be in awe.

I am a fan, plus most importantly has a good article and show of Romare Beardens listed. Would these other types above ever do that, like c-mon-grel or culturegrrrrlchicki? Hell no!

art collegia delenda est
Save the Towers

I probably shouldn't weigh in on this, but I will. I applied for the Creative Capital Grant this year and was rejected. I don't agree with c-mon that the application was biased against bloggers; it had plenty of room for all kinds of stuff this time around (I understand they changed it from last year) and I thought I had a good shot at it. There's a bunch of parts that don't apply to me -- like a resume, ha ha -- but the application this year was broad and deep. I didn't feel I had to leave anything out that I thought would help me.

I don't feel bad that I was rejected so much as I'm cranky about the winners. I wouldn't mind being slapped down if I could respect the people they did give it to. Greg Cook is very serious and very...I want to say academic without its sounding pejorative. Very intellectual? Professorial? I personally don't read his site but people I respect like it, so I expect it is good.

Past winners and non-blog winners leave me scratching my head, though. I know some of the others who applied and even if I didn't win, they should have. Clearly my thinking ain't anything like the judges of this kind of thing.

Most art blogging is fairly lame. There's a lot of cheerleading out there, and a lot of nonsense, and a fair number of people who think they're smart but aren't. But there's good stuff, too. Donald Frazell is right about Hungry Hyaena (Christopher Reiger) but he's not exactly an art blogger -- he blogs more about the environment and nature than he does art.

Now that I've defended Greg Cook I went to his blog and what do I get but a quintessential art cheerleader piece on Jack Pierson. Dammit.

He does say he is a cheerleader for local, Boston artists. No problem there as long as he explains, and even compares it to jewelry, which it is wall decoration.

Who is this guy? Dont care if thats his intent, it is the misrepresentation of therapy, decoration, childish self expression and academic illustration of silly concepts as cretive art, adn the excluding of all else I ahte. There should be room for all, but5nwhre is the art of Cezanne and Coltrane? Not in any gallery I can find or certainly website. He has Romare Bearden, clsoe enough.

Not all blogs are run as businesses.

A lot of blogs are just about the freedom of publishing personal opinion, the satisfaction that brings. I know quite a lot of bloggers, strictly from their blogs, and my impression is that they're not interested in being compared or assimilated into the mainstream of critical literature. So they wouldn't apply for grants in the first place.

A lot of the license, or freedom they take with language and presentation, certaibly would fly in the face of respected practice. So it's not like they're going to be appreciated by the straight press anyway.

"Is art blogging really that bad?' -

You bet. And unless you want to get bad in there with them, you're better off steering clear. Bloggers often write about the mainstream press, but they seldon address it - and never expect to be addressed by it. There is no one on one, no level playing field here. The LAT is as much an exotic plant to them as some absurd tag and embarrassing locution is to the paid professional.

As a resting blogger and serial commenter I say there are some things money can't buy.

On behalf of the entire staff at The New England Journal of Aesthetic Reseach, I wanted to thank everyone here for their kind words about our work. We at The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research are quite honored to win the Creative Capital/Warhol Foundation grant. Mr. Warhol in particular has long been an inspiration to us and this only increases our ardor. That said, we too would like to see more active art bloggers similarly honored and can think of many who are deserving. C-mon and Ms. Rosenbaum's theories of why more weren't so recognized may be correct as they correspond with our experience.

Greg "quintessential art cheerleader " Cook


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