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I was disappointed to read the critical article on the DCAC exhibit Guns in the Hands of Artists in last week’s City Paper (“This Is a Holdup,” 5/15). I feel I got jacked by a man with no gun and no real point. A right smack in the face it was. The article spent most of its ink criticizing the organization of the exhibit and the lack of community fanfare around the event.
My issue is not with the criticisms themselvesindeed, they were largely accuratebut rather with the general lack of constructive support that should have accompanied the criticisms. If DeVault feels that not enough was done to promote this event, why not write a story that draws attention to the exhibit instead of bashing it? Does it strike anyone else as paradoxical that the one medium (City Paper) that could (should?) bolster the D.C. arts community with the kind of positive attention necessary to raise awareness of this important and timely exhibit instead chooses to criticize the lack of media attention generated by the organizers?
Instead of contributing to a media spotlight on this exhibit, DeVault elected to criticize one of the only small public arts venues remaining in Washington, and further to place the pictures of the venue’s director (B. Stanley) and the only D.C. resident (Renée Stout) represented in the exhibit in the article. I feel this article served not to constructively criticize a noticeable lack of attention for this show, but rather to alienate the artists and gallery owner, and create a chasm in a community that should be working together.
I wonder, Mr. DeVault, did you take into consideration the budgetary constraints of DCAC? Do you realize the extent to which DCAC is supported by volunteers? Where time and money are a serious obstacle, as you did in fact point out, perhaps the ability to organize community activities around the show is rather limited.
I was at the opening day of that exhibit. It was, contrary to DeVault’s observations on a weekday afternoon, quite packed and, by most folks’ estimation, a success. True indeed, there was no gun buyback. There was no stop-the-violence campaign. Perhaps the attention focused upon the show could have been better. Perhaps even, if the journalists had been doing their job in the first place, there could have been a fabulous and positive article in the alternative media about the opening of this show and how not enough is being done to rally the community around this issue.
Perhaps a more refined journalistic mind would have seen the opportunity to encourage progressive art exhibits in Washington. Perhaps an individual with a clue about the art community in Washington would have taken greater care in his or her criticisms. Perhaps, even, the ink could have been spent requesting a gun buyback or community response. But instead, what we received was a critical article with no real purpose and a great deal of negativity.
This article, and in fact another article (“Kill Yr Idols,” 5/15) in that week’s City Paper (Cherkis, you are an imbecile), smacked of criticism for the sake of critical journalism. While all are entitled to their opinions and can write what they please, I question the utility of such a negative article. It is not as though we are talking about a huge corporate art show promoting the sale of handguns to children. The gallery and the organizers were surely well-intentioned, and if the community support was lacking, then we as members of this community are all to blame.
Takoma Park, Md.
via the Internet