Lowbrow and Blogs and Reviews…Oh My!

I was searching for info on Mark Ryden’s new “Tree Show” and ran across the new blog That Ain’t Art .

Lots of great lowbrow news and info, including this reprinting of the editor’s intro from the March issue of Juxtapoz.

“You are the LA Times art critic, and yet lowbrow seems to be
completely off your radar. Astounding. History will not look upon you kindly.”

-Jim Hanson

“Criticism as an activity emerges from within genres. It is not imposed from the outside. If a substantive body of criticism were to emerge from within the lowbrow world, it would be unavoidable and fun to engage with it. So far as I know that hasn’t happened. Perhaps that’s because, with populist genres, criticism is almost always beside the point.”
-Christopher Knight, Times Art Critic

I offer the preceding correspondence between a critic and his audience as an example of a much wider contemporary discourse. Critical writing dealing with the so-called lowbrow category exists in abundance. Carlo McCormick’s efforts over the last decade in publications like Art Forum and Paper are standouts in scholarly discourse. Walter Hopps, William S Burroughs, Ed Roth, Charles Bukowski, David Hickey, and Norman Mailer all famously advanced the consideration of vanguard outcast aesthetics. Even the Newsweek/Art Forum critic Peter Plagens occasionally tackled the hot rod ethos. And, of course, there are the valuable continuing efforts of a cadre of working aestheticians in the United States such as Doug Harvey, Scott Snyder, Roger Gastman, Larry Reid, Aaron Rose, and Theo Douglas; and internationally, Simon Wood of Australia, NASH of Japan, Takuji Masuda of Switzerland, and Giorgio Dimitri of Italy. Mr Knight’s outright dismissal of such extensive artistic inquiry is ludicrous and demonstrates a chauvinistic ignorance of current developments. Elsewhere monumental moves are afoot.

Take, for instance, the plethora of galleries and artists numbering in the thousands at 13 concurrent art fairs that is Art Basel, Miami Beach, the country’s four-year-old grand industry event-the only one of its kind and chronicled this issue by Francesco LoCastro. Not to mention a major museum exhibition is being organized by the Laguna Art Museum entitled In the Land of Retinal Delights: The Juxtapoz School, which has already secured two additional museum venues. And interestingly enough, the San Jose Art Museum is independently developing a similarly themed show. All should be debuting in 2008.

So here is issue 74. Warning: it could be unavoidably provocative and fun to engage. Please do not confuse it with mere criticism because that, as the august authority Mr Knight points out, always misses the point. Roberta Smith, chief critic of the New York Times recently gave Shag’s Earl McGrath show a glowing review. That fact, and the previously mentioned museum projects, prove that those with open minds are actively forging a new history.”