The Red Dot Fair at the Park South Hotel, 128 E. 28th Street
That's you all in the audience. Panelists from left: Ed, Paddy, Carolina, Sharon, Carol and moi. Photo courtesy of Hrag Vartanian, whose blog post contains a link to a few Flickr images
Sharon Butler (in the blue shirt) and I (at far right) came up with the idea of bringing bloggers together in real time and space, typically at an art fair or event. Art Bloggers @ thus came into the world during the Miami art fairs, where a small group convened in the lobby of Flow Fair on Collins Avenue.
We had a bigger group in New York. Last Sunday, March 30, we met at the Red Dot Fair at the Park South Hotel. Some 40 or so bloggers showed up--some bleary-eyed, let it be said--as we started gathering in the lobby at 10:00 am. After an informal round table in one of the small conference rooms, we adjourned to the restaurant, which had been set up for a series of panels. Ours, "The Impact of Bloggers on the Art World," ran from 11:15 to 12:30 and could easily have gone on another hour.
I moderated a panel that consisted of Carol Diehl, painter, critic (Art in America), Artvent blog; C-Monster, aka Carolina Miranda, freelance writer; Edward Winkleman, gallerist, Edward Winkleman Blog; Paddy Johnson, freelance writer and blogger, Art Fag City; Sharon Butler, painter, writer (The Brooklyn Rail) and professor, Two Coats of Paint. I was the moderator.
I started by offering some blog statistics, which I've updated for this post. According to Blogpulse, the total number of identified blogs is 77,104,143. In the last 24 hours alone, there were 95,529 new blogs. That's 3980 an hour, 66 a minute, and just over one new blog a second. Even if one half of one percent of those blogs is related to art, that's several hundred thousand blogs--offering potentially or actually far more commentary about art than conventional print media could ever produce.
So my first questions to the panel was:
What is our responsibility personally to good writing and journalistic integrity in our own blogs and within the blogosphere in general?
Ed got to answer first, as he would leave early to go to his gallery's booth at Pulse. I don't have notes, since I was focused on moderating, but I do recall this part of his response: "My readers are my editors." If there's one difference between print media and the blogosphere (aside from the lack of salary in the latter) it's the instantaneousness of the medium. You can't pull one over or get away with shoddy reporting when your readers can call you on it. And they do.
The conversation drifted to ethics. Since the panel was composed of ethical people, no one seemed overly concerned about what they were or weren't doing. Carolina, the most journalistically bona fide of the group (she used to work at Time and was part of the team that helped expose inconsistencies in the resume of FEMA's Michael Brown) noted the importance of disclaimers when writing about a potential conflict of interest. (Disclaimer: I often disregard copyright to pull images from the Internet--but they're always in service to the related topic. )
We talked about stats--yes, we're all obsessed with them--and some technical stuff. There was some nice give and take with the audience, many of whom returned home almost immediately to blog about it (See posts below). The thing that struck me was how nice everyone was. As you know, the blogosphere is often marked by contentiousness (and more). Here, everyone was very friendly.
James Kalm recorded it all. We'll let you know if he posts a video.
We didn't get to the big questions-- Are we mainstream yet? Do we want to be? What is the future of art blogging?--but Sharon and I are planning something in New York in the fall, and of course in Miami in December, so the conversation will continue. We'll have the info on our respective blogs and on Art Bloggers @ in September.
Big props to George Billis, gallerist and founder of Red Dot Fair, for generously letting us convene. A partial list of attendees (thanks to Franklin for taking names) includes:
Stephanie Lee Jackson (aka Pretty Lady)
Megan and Murray
Harry and Jennifer Swartz-Turfle