800 Chestnut Street
San Francisco, California

Panel of Critics, Artists, and Curators Discuss “Bias in Art Criticism” Nov 30

November 30, 7:30pm
San Francisco Art Institute, Lecture Hall
800 Chestnut Street
Free to SFAI Students
$3 suggested donation for general public

Epicenter: Arts and San Francisco Art Institute present a panel that confronts the conflicts of interest of the art writer.

Panelists include Kenneth Baker, art critic for The San Francisco Chronicle; Jeff Kelley, Curator of Contemporary Art at the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco; Alla Efimova, Chief Curator at the Judah L. Magnes Museum; Jonathon Keats, artist and writer; Jordan Essoe, artist and writer; and moderator Scott Shafer of KQED radio's The California Report. They will discuss the role of art criticism in the creation of cultural taste, and how the perspective of the critic is shaped and influenced.

In most cases, the very credentials that qualify an art critic’s authority can appear to carry with them specific conflicts of interest. There is no traditional path or formal education that leads to high arts journalism, and it is almost always a craft practiced in tandem with another occupation. More and more, working contemporary artists are the voices behind reviews and essays, and while this is a long running historical tradition, it continues to spark a certain amount of controversy. Jonathon Keats and Jordan Essoe will share their unique perspectives on the process of critiquing an art world within which they are also practitioners.

Arts curators often write copiously in support of their own programs and exhibitions. Is the horse’s mouth the most trustworthy source for complete information? Jeff Kelley, who was professor of art theory and criticism at UC Berkeley for over a decade, and Alla Efimova, Liberal Arts Graduate Faculty at San Francisco Art Institute, will explore the role of education in exhibition catalogues and address the differences and similarities between bias and expertise.

The rare writer who can claim arts writing as their full time passion is usually a high profile critic dominating the arts newshole for a national magazine or large urban newspaper. This position also presents a critic with a following, and therefore a certain amount of acknowledged power. After 20 years of service to the paper, Kenneth Baker will describe his political location as the sole art critic for The San Francisco Chronicle.

A 20-minute Q & A will immediately follow the panel discussion. A reception in Pete's Cafe with drinks and refreshments will follow, wherein press is cordially invited to continue the conversation informally with the panelists.

Photographs available upon request.

Official Website: http://www.sfai.edu/

Added by nolaksd on November 27, 2006



This sounds like a fascinating panel and I wish I were on the Left Coast and could attend. I do want to take issue with the assertion that "there is no traditional path or formal education that leads to high arts journalism..." There is now. The Goldring Arts Journalism program at the Newhouse School at Syracuse University is in its second year and is a graduate program to train critics to write about the visual arts as well as architecture, film, music, theater, television and popular culture. Guest faculty, such as Tim Griffin (editor of ArtForum) teach workshops and currently one of our students is an intern at ArtNEWS. As a music critic myself and director of the program, I have been a longtime activist for more training for critics, especially for the next generation. Conversations such as the one you will be having do so much to further the recognition for the field. Sending best wishes to all...Johanna Keller (http://artsjournalism.syr.edu)


Don't accept what you're told as a viewer (educated in the history of Fine Art or otherwise), take the work at face value and see if YOU the viewer can engage on a personal level with the work. If you do like the work for any reason then take one of two courses of action. Either walk away, happy in the knowledge that the artwork has added in some way to your life experience or go and read the wall note and see if your interpretation was the appropriate response.

Art works made for the benefit of an art critic audience is not honest work if it's shown in a public arena. It's just grandstanding for career accolades.