Monday, March 03, 2008

Planning the “2009 New England Art Awards”?

With the announcement that this year’s awards by the New England chapter of the International Association of Art Critics (AICA) will be the group’s last, I’ve been thinking about future options. And I wonder what you, dear readers, might suggest.

I keep imagining a “New England Art Awards Ball” at some place like P.A.’s Lounge in Somerville. Open to anyone who wanted to come. In January 2009. With formal attire. And a band.

Who should choose the winners? The New England AICA awards are ostensibly chosen by critics, but about half of the 12 people who chose the 2008 winners are primarily curators or art historians. I don’t know every one of them, but it looks like none of them are affiliated with newspapers. I think maybe two of them are involved in online writing or blogging. They all seem to be based in Massachusetts.

It seems to me that the primary critics of New England art are newspapers in Boston, Providence, Portland and Hartford; Big Red & Shiny; Art New England; Berkshire Fine Arts; and a few bloggers. Oh, and The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research. Awards could be based on surveys of these writers and editors. Should artists have input? Curators? Which ones?

To answer these questions, it’s helpful to ask: What are such awards for? And it’s worth asking the same of the various local round-up shows like the Boston Center for the Arts’ annual Drawing Show, the DeCordova Annual, the Boston Institute of Contemporary Art’s biennial Foster Prize, the Portland Museum of Art’s Biennial, the Fitchburg Art Museum’s “New England/New Talent” show.

On one hand, they’re about celebrating good art and/or exhibitions here. It’s very worthwhile to have events in which we get together and honor what we’re doing right. They’re also about signaling what we’d like to see more of, signaling the direction in which we’d like to see the art scene go. That’s the part I keep wondering about.

What would make the local art scene better, sharper, more intriguing, more exciting? For the art community, as well as for the community as a whole? How might awards help nudge us in that direction?



Blogger LKB said...

Great idea Greg. Maybe NEJAR should host a summit?

March 5, 2008 at 8:07 AM  

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