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Trend Setting

January, 1993

EVERY SO OFTEN some reader finds it necessary to inform me that ART TIMES is "too conservative." This is usually followed by the suggestion that I read this or that article or turn the pages of this or that publication–as if, doing so, I would become enlightened as to what is happening on the art scene now. Were I on top of things, one recent subscriber intimated, my publication might enjoy a "whole new direction." It is as if, mired in some backwater, I am hopelessly immured in some reactionary time warp, never cognizant of the "cutting edge." The truth is, I do live in the hinterland, in a town in upstate New York so small that most of you have never even heard of it. (It’s pretty near ideal for a writer.) But it’s also the truth that I rarely get to stay there for more than a few days in a row. A good part of my time is spent in Manhattan and a good part of that time is spent in galleries and museums. When I’m not in the "Big Apple," I make the circuit through towns in upstate New York as well as in Connecticut and elsewhere to keep up on what’s happening in the galleries outside the city. From time to time, I even get as far as Boston or Washington or Philadelphia to see major shows. Over the past 4 years, I’ve traveled to Europe twice and, while there, visited most of the major museums (and a good many galleries) in Germany, France, Italy and Spain. And, what I don’t see first hand, I read about in invitations, catalogues, press releases, articles–and, yes–other arts publications that daily invade my rustic retreat. This flood of information comes not only from New York City but from other cities and states across the country and, indeed, from around the world. I know, for instance, what is upcoming in Paris, Rome, Cologne and Barcelona as well as in the small towns along the Hudson Corridor and beyond. I only wish, at times, that I were not made so aware of what is "out there." And, when I clear my desk of all that information, I still have to deal with the personal letters from dealers, galleries, organizations and artists who want to tell me about their "new directions." Were I to follow each new trend or "cutting edge" hot item, ART TIMES (like a good many publications already out there) would eventually have no direction at all. So–is the charge of "conservatism" a fair one? I think so. From the outset, we’ve opted for the "long view," preferring to leave the "very latest" to those publications more inclined to chase it down. Most seemed to do so anyway–and we’ve always appeared somewhat retroactive in the spate of journals elbowing each other aside in the mad rush to find the "new." Some of them, in fact, have elbowed others right out of existence of late. We just didn’t see the wisdom in adding to the pile-up. The reader who tells me about a "good article" in some other publication and advises me to find "new directions" doesn’t seem to realize that there is no real need for such redundancy. There are publications that are not conservative. Read them and enjoy them! By remaining aloof from the "madding crowd," we’ve managed to carve out a respectable readership–both here in the "art capitol of the world" and abroad–and, frankly, we kind of like our stand-offish reputation. There are those who like our viewpoint, find our articles of interest and (believe it or not) applaud our conservatism. I don’t mind being told we are boring–but, please, don’t ask us to change and join the pack. Just pick up one of those eye-catching slicks–there are plenty of them to choose from!–and let us go plodding along in our mulish, un-chic and conservative way.

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