Dec 012010


Let me first apologize to Ace Weekly. In what is the only remark that I sincerely regret, I wrote, “Others: Business and journalism ethics for our paper? A need to be nice to people? You must not read our paper except to see if there’s any “art” things in there. Our advice: go back to Ace.” This was intended as an intentional dig directed to a group of people who clearly were not aware that this paper generally denigrates business ethics and naive understandings of legality and illegality. Ace was the vehicle but also the butt. It shouldn’t have been. I am a regular reader of Ace, and though I may disagree with some of their positions, as I’ve been publishing this paper I am continually impressed and amazed that they’ve been doing our gig for 20 years now. It is an impressive run, and with the excellent work of Biannca Spriggs, they continue to be a relevant magazine that I grab usually within days of release. I am sorry.

I have discussed the issue of ART-gate with a number of you, some in public forums and others in an assortment of private areas. I am frustrated in that this discussion has grown into something that requires a quick response, and that is something that this paper does not do. Along with our commitment to an openly embraced professionalized amateurism and some very specific ideas for community empowerment, being slow is one of the strengths of this paper. And yet, here I am, blogging for 15 minutes before I have to take off, to appease a group of people who demanded apologies on Thursday (Thanksgiving), Friday, Saturday and Monday.

The question of ART-gate seems to be about public art.  While I do not excuse Niah Soult’s numerous incorrect assertions about this paper, nor do I excuse her unfairly harsh language, she brings up, among other things, serious questions of art, public space, art as property, and the circulations between them. As several people have said to me, this could be a cool discussion, and they are right.

I will start the discussion with what is my (which is to say NoC) official response to Niah and others.I know from private conversations with many of you, that there is a difference between how I and some/all artists view art and public art, and that this differences is not equatable to agreeing with Niah’s position. In other words, there seem to be at least 3 viewpoints here, maybe more.

Here is ours:

We do not apologize for the act of taking the picture of Niah’s mural. It was in good conscience, it clearly intended to solicit a response from the community, and it playfully celebrated the sometimes stupid boundary between legality and illegality. In that the artist became aware of her work within 1-2 days, it showcased the speed of print journalism and the engaged community ethic that we had hoped to showcase. It also got some people around the area to notice it; my own Mother, for example, in town from Delaware, said as we happened to drive by it, “Oh, there’s that picture from Danny’s bad-language paper!” There inevitably would have been a follow up “informing” readers of the artist (or the artist could have put her name on the painting or a sign next to it). In other words, the act to us was a success. It was us to the core, and we will not and do not apologize for that or us.

In an attempt to move things into a more productive space, here is a 2-part piece on public art that appeared in our September 29 and October 13 issues. They were both front page. We only had 3 posts on them, total. Consider these 2 pieces a partial understanding of our statement above and also why we are who we are.

“Made You Look!”: Storm Sewer Education Through Art

“Storm Sewer Education through art, part II” (not as great a title)

Feel free to use these pieces, and this story of public art, public journalism and Niah’s still untitled piece, to talk in this shitty, thoroughly degraded space we call the internet. I know there will be an editorial on this in this in the next issue (not written by me), but maybe this could be used positively to inform that editorial.


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  One Response to “Memo from the editor: ART-gate”

  1. Danny, I am, first and foremost, in total agreement with your handling of the situation which precipitated this ART-gate. I also have posted images of artwork, without proper attribution to the artist, as you know and have never been called on it, but I deal in the blog world solely.

    I also will not apologize for anything that i say or present in my blog, for it is one man’s opinion and that is why I write my blog. I fully realize that there are many who don’t hold the same or even similar positions and that should be okay for most people. I hope that there are few like Niah, who take such great offense, and that we all can learn something from this experience.

    Thank you for using my blog to support you position and feel free to use it again in the advancement of Lexington’s public spaces.

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