Thursday, June 29, 2006

A brief history of detroit arts

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You all have probably heard by now that art critic for the News Joy Colby has stepped down and is moving to St Louis. She writes a farewell story for Metro Times and gives detroit youngsters a history of detroit arts! Check out her is a great read! There will be a tribute for Joy at Lola's Tuesday July 11, 6-8pm comments at 7pm. Contact 313.962.0483 or for more details.


Blogger cultureindustries said...

I'm wondering what people think of the last paragraph of Joy's article. Pretty sobering if you ask me. The News is supposedly soliciting for a "fine arts writer." But that person will cover classical music, theater and opera in addition to visual art. My suspicion is that someone with a performing arts background will get the gig. This really dovetails with some earlier postings re: an art pub.

6:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There will never be another Joy Hakanson Colby in Detroit. She gave life to the art here by giving it a voice for 60 years.

She was the best a critic can be, critical in the best sense: delighting in what she liked, and explaining what she did not. And always expressing respect for the art, failed or not.

She never regurgitated on the page. She has had to much class as a writer. And what now will be lacking at the News forever:
an endless passion for her work. That never waivered even from the first until the very last review.

She has been a friend to all the arts here, and to all the artists. And her loss will never be properly gauged I'm afraid.

1:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


1:15 AM  
Blogger cultureindustries said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12:41 PM  
Blogger cultureindustries said...

This report from the National Arts Journalism Program provides insight into the future of visual arts coverage in Detroit in light of Joy Colby's departure:

12:43 PM  
Blogger cultureindustries said...

For some reason the entire URL isn't posting. It's "visualarts.html" at the end. It's a downloadable PDF

12:47 PM  
Blogger cultureindustries said...

Please excuse the multiple postings. Just messing with HTML to try to get something clickable
NAJP report on the Visual Art Critic

12:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a great document, Cultureindustries....thanks for sharing it.

We should really demand of the dailies that they not ignore the visual arts community, especially at a time when there is so much going on.

Ann never lacks for some arts event to post on her blog; they then can't use the excuse that there is nothing to cover.

The opening of MOCAD in October necessitates a major article[s] as Joy would have done...front page of the Entertainment Section, with accompanying color pictures. The national arts media will surely be there; how would it look if this event was only mentioned as two lines in a backpage "calendar" in our own newspapers?

11:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The national arts media will surely be there... for Mocad's opening."

Don't count on that either. This opener isn't creating any energy anywhere. And you can only blame the staff at Mocad for that.

Get your butts moving over there!

Joy's very last article was a front page piece on Mocad... Not the Entertainment section, but the Front Page beneath the fold...but Mocad wouldn't even allow her in the building nor did they have any sort of handout or printed matter to give her to work with. She put it all together with an interview literally held out in the street.

Joy saw the writing on the wall for her job as art critic and even had to fight for this last story. Why?! It had been her beat for 60 years. She wasn't even on Mocad's contact list for the press. Makes you sick to think how inept they've been.

Another News writer, an op-ed columnist was contacted to write it initially -- because she was a buddy of Marsha Miro's.

Joy had to fight for that last story.

So much for 60 years of putting your heart into each and every art story.

C'mon Mocad guys. Get your act together!

12:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

only goes to prove once again that mitch cope is a poop.

12:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joy has not only been a great critic, but a great lady. A lot of class. And I hope everyone can make it to her tribute party on July 11th at Lola's.

If every living artist in Detroit showed up, that would really be a testament to both Joy's legacy and to Detroit artists' ability to recognize the one person who has fought the longest to get word of their talent out there.

See you all there!

12:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i heard that for the last couple years joy colby was told not to write about specific artists or shows, what you'd call an art review. just something with an art spin like dog paints masterpiece on garage floor or the dia found gum on a frankenthaler. and that at times they even forced her to write about how to make your front lawn greener. and so i doubt very much that the new person will be given reign to really write anything about the art scene if they even hire someone with that in mind which is doubtful altogether.

so thank you joy.

10:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I say bombard the dailies with information about the arts scene....sending announcements, press releases, etc, to make sure they know the depth and bredth of the arts venues that are available to cover.

I dare say that if totalled up, there are more visual arts/ alternative arts venues than there are stage theaters.....but the theater productions ALWAYS get coverage!

12:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this all comes down to money. I know for a fact.

theaters/stage shows take out ads. galleries do not.

don't expect galleries to get any coverage until they start buying ads.

don't expect galleries to start buying ads until they start making money.

don't expect galleries to start making money until people know about them, know about real art and feel safe going to said galleries.

don't expect any of that to happen until people read about galleries and art in their newspaper. oh wait ...

2:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The art section of the dailies is full of video game reviews. You can't tell me that twelve year olds buy newspapers. Something is wrong with their demographics.

7:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not all of the theaters buy ads, and they still get reviewed. Heck, until recently, the Detroit Free Press even had a yearly awards ceremony for the best plays and actors for the year....a fancy banquet with floor show and silver plated placks! These theaters didnt have the money to barely stay alive, but the paper lionized them in a pseudo "OSCAR" situation.

The money thing is a consideration i'm sure, but the larger issue is that the editors of the daily papers are ignorant about the visual arts communities and/or they just have their heads up their collective asses.

Something is screwed up when a whole back page is devoted to often violent video game culture, and barely a sentence given over to visual arts culture, which is where the video game culture originated from!

And one cant blame the arts writers at all. Mrs Colby fought the good fight, but who is going to pick up her banner? Who is strong enough to do so? To fight the out-of-town originating new editors of the scaled down fish-wraps that we call daily papers?

9:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe the best way to stand up to the dailies is to put on a show of force at Colby's retirement party -- I know many of the News staff will be there, and if they see that the entire Detroit Art commmunity is present... Wow! What a statement!

10:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with Christine. Hopefully the crowds will spill out into Harmonie Park, and crowds always draw news media.

12:59 PM  
Blogger cultureindustries said...

I think the reason performing arts get more coverage is because there is a perception on the part of the paper that there's more audience for it and it's "more accessible." That's misguided on both counts as any tally of the actual attendence of plays vs. the museum will bear out. (Plus it's a helluva a lot cheaper to spend a day at the DIA than go to a play or even a movie or a ball game for that matter.) There's also the perception that visual art is "elitist" and papers see themselves as populist (even though they are anti-union). The irony, of course, is that visual arts coverage is something local papers have an exclusive on. With very few exceptions, no one is coming from New York or LA to write about the Detroit art scene. There is indeed an element of economics to it, specifically in terms of how newspapers are run these days. If you read the NAJP report, you'll note that visual arts coverage cutbacks are a function of newspaper consolidation pure and simple. Newspapers all over the country are gutting the newsrooms to squeeze as much profit as possible from ad revenues and subscriptions. Papers like covering video games, CDs, movies, celebs, etc., because it's part of what critical theorists call "the culture industry," the manufactured culture of consumption that is quickly becoming globalized. It's easier and cheaper to pick up a review off the newswire and run it instead of paying for someone to get out into the community and build contacts. If you look at the bylines, you'll see a lot of out-of-towners listed. Certainly one of the reasons Joy got her gig initially is that paper's owners were big into art. The absentee ownership of the News cares only about return on investment. It's why news coverage is failing us all over the country, actually, putting democracy as well as culture at risk. The savior in recents times has been the Internet, with the rise of alternative media, blogs and the like. In this respect, what Ann and Nick Sousanis have done is pretty important and also indicative of the larger trend. Ultimately, it seems to me that the true dialogue takes place in a pretty small community. In that regard the prospects of a standalone print journal dedicated to the visual arts in Detroit seems like a real uphill battle. (Been there; done that.) Again, it's unfortunate because the real objectivity is probably in the mass media. Although it's true that the galleries don't advertise, it's also a blessing because you can express a real opinion without having to worry about your funding source being pulled. Look at the New York art glossies. The coverage of art has really gotten insipid in many cases because the galleries in fact have too much power. I agree that Joy's send-off should be mobbed, though I don't know that it will have much effect on the newspaper coverage. On the other hand, the papers do hold public forums from time to time and an organized effort to get out to one and make them miserable might have some effect. Best would be for someone of the Al Taubman (or more to the point Art Van Eslander) level to call up the publisher and say, "What the fuck are you guys doing over there? You're killing us! Everyone in America thinks we're a bunch of rubes because we have no culture [at least as far as anyone can see by the coverage] and we have brain drain in the city. We're pulling our ads until you get someone on the beat!" In the meantime, love the Detroitarts Blog and while Ann and Nick can still foot the bill for webhosting.

6:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

that was great, cultureindustries. Hit the nail on the head.

10:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes the pop media has dropped the ball for society / culture big time..

A bit of a side point, but I have been extremely upset with local papers like the news, but specially the suburban papers whom don't touch Detroit culture at all. Who do not attempt it seems to even relate to the metro communities but have such provincialism. And they do not give artists any breaks on advertisement! They have covered my works and happenings, makes for good stories and they say they want to help you out but they will not put your number in print at all. They will for theaters, restaurants, galleries or a newly opened storage unit facility but not an independent artist.

Once a local paper put out a story on my friend whom is a political artist..
He almost got his number printed but they left the last digit out! I bet it was on purpose.

Thankfully the Internet is here and still somewhat free.

12:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said... only I hear about these things regarding webhosting......thanks....keep it up....

12:58 AM  

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