Ten. Ten years old. The Big One-Oh. Hard to believe it. The truth is, for all its binary authority, ten years is a strange kind of milestone, the meaning of which changes radically depending on the context. For a person, 10-years old marks the dubious end of a certain stage of childhood: “You’re now a pre-teen!” as my parents proudly informed me. Great. Sounds thrilling. But for certain types of human endeavors, such as dance troupes or waffle barns—or say, art magazines —reaching ten years old does denote a certain staying power. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. It’s hard to imagine Frank Sinatra crooning, “When I was ten years old, it was a very good year. It was a very good year, for reviewing artists who employ large-scale multi-media installations to question the nature of temporality and how human beings experience time, and— soft summer nights.” It just doesn’t flow off the tongue. But while I may not be all misty-eyed, I do think it’s fitting to reflect on the journey.
When we launched the first issue of this magazine, in Jan/Feb 2007, George W. Bush was in his second term as president; Barack Obama was an eager freshman senator and the Great Recession was just a gleam in the eye of some seriously maladjusted investment brokers. The art world was a bit more innocent, too. But the goal of the magazine was no less timely. Despite Artforum’s youthful flirtation with San Francisco and Los Angeles in the 1960s, the lack of a substantial, accessible art magazine based in LA was glaring. Nothing against New York: I grew up there and lived there as an art writer in the 1990s. If the Knicks and Clippers ever face off for the championship, I’ll probably implode. But with the art world becoming ever more globalized through art fairs and biennials, the whole notion of a monolithic art world capital had become increasingly obsolete. And LA was clearly coming into its own as an art center, albeit on its own distinct model, rooted more in the art schools than in the marketplace. Even so, the magazine wasn’t about trumpeting LA (or Chicago, or Houston) as the alternative to NY. The goal was to present a decentralized view of the US art scene, from an LA perspective, embracing all the cities and institutions in the Leftern half of the country as part of a non-hierarchical geography, drawing its energy from its robust artistic communities and the web of connections uniting them. Under the guidance of our publisher, we’re now adding more coverage and distribution in New York and the rest of the country, while retaining our commitment to covering those regions that we always have—slowly filling in the entire map. As a hardcopy magazine in the age of the Internet, we’re well aware of the global climate change that’s overtaken publishing. So we’re also revamping and expanding our online and digital presence, to ensure that we retain our vitality in this rapidly changing ecosystem.
We’re lucky to have many of the best art writers in the country as our contributors. If we’re a platform for thoughtful writing about important and innovative artists, exhibitions and ideas, it’s thanks to them. Our staff is minimal, but dogged. So we’re very grateful to those in the art world who’ve supported us over the years. These are challenging times. It’s sometimes hard to find abundance amidst the crush… But it is still a community, in its own sparkling, disparate way. This magazine is our commitment to sustaining that community, and to the idea that a vibrant, informed dialogue is vital, not just to artists and galleries, but also to a thriving creative culture. Thanks to everyone who’ve helped us grow. Shucks. Now I am getting misty-eyed.