Sorry for not posting earlier (I’m a very late riser), and thank you Lisa for your impromptu post. I know that some of you readers also follow my own blog, The Thinking Eye; for those who don’t, I’d like to briefly introduce myself. I’ll do so by following up belatedly on Karl’s Monday post, trying to get at some of my writerly goals and biases by way of my location. Since I also spend time on the Internet (a sort of place, perhaps), this makes a good companion piece to my recent off-site post on Art & Perception. From September of last year, my home has been Ithaca in Upstate New York.
Although I like to discuss Ithaca on my Eye and elsewhere, it often seems absurd of me to do so. A city of something like 50,000 people (the population varies with the coming and going of students), it is not, and has never been, an important art center on the order of Haarlem or New Amsterdam (although it was of some significance in the early film industry). Most likely, it will never be one in the future. Ambitious artists around here tend to gravitate towards NYC, which is about a six hour drive away. I like to travel there myself, as much as I can. Still, Ithaca is where I live, and it effects the way I think and experience art. (I live here by choice, so I try not to sound like I’m complaining too much.)
As a college town–home to Cornell University and Ithaca College–the place is hardly bereft of culture. In fact, it is something of a miniature melting pot, a mixture of different nationalities, religions (a major center of Tibetan Buhddism), and art-forms (music being much stronger than the visual arts). Unfortunately, most of the culture that I value most is not native-grown, but imported. Cornell’s Johnson Museum has a fine a fine permanent collection of art, with particular strengths in in Asian and American art. In addition, the museum and other branches of the school brings in a wide variety of exhibitions, artists and scholars. I try to take in as much of this as I can, digesting interesting bits through my writing. The problem is that most things of interest art-wise come from elsewhere, and are funneled from the top down. This presents problems for me both as a (lapsed) artist and as someone interested in writing seriously about art. I’m working on the latter, at least.
I moved here from Boston last year (mostly for personal reasons) after completing several years of undergraduate study at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts. My final year there was spent at Tufts University (which is associated with the SMFA), studying things other than studio art. Because of this time period, and because I felt (correctly or not) that I had used up a surge of ideas beginning in 2001, I have shifted my attention from making art to writing about it. While many artists seem to regard this as a waste of time, I believe that it is valuable. If nothing else, I am good at it.
Karl’s claims that “the action in the great living art centers of today is not all that impressive”, citing New York, Berlin, and London. I would like to politely disagree. I have never been to Berlin or London, but I have been to NYC, Chicago, Boston, Washington D.C. and Paris, among other places. While I’ve seen plenty of bad art, I’ve also seen a great many things of interest (to me, Karl’s tastes are clearly very different). My main interest is not in the art of the past, the kind enshrined in museums. My main interest is in the living arts of today: not because I think we’re living in the greatest of eras, but simply because the culture is active. I enjoy being in the midst of this culture.
Eventually, I plan to move to New York; in the meantime, where I am is alright.