In Sync with… Derek Guthrie, Co-founder of The New Art Examiner (interview)


Yesterday I made a post about the current effort to bring back The New Art Examiner (link).   Today, as part of my In-Sync interview series, I asked Derek Guthrie five questions about The New Art Examiner and why it matters today. Derek is co-founder of The New Art Examiner that was published from 1973 to 2002.  Enjoy the interview and consider supporting his efforts to bring it back to Chicago!

There will be a lecture open to the public at Hull House (Address: 800 S Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60607) on Thursday Feb. 20th from 6 – 9 to talk about the Legacy of Jane Addams and the History of the New Art Examiner.  Join in the conversation. 

SG: Why is it important to revive the New Art Examiner today?

DG: I respond initially by quoting Wikipedia At the time of the New Art Examiner’s launch, in October 1973 when Chicago was “an art backwater.” Artists who wished to be taken seriously left Chicago for New York City, and apart from a few local phenomena, such as the Hairy Who, little attention was given to Chicago art and artists.[1] For the generations of artists who grew up reading the New Art Examiner, it provided a unique vantage point outside the artistic mainstream.The New Art Examiner died and in so doing the Chicago scene lost access to a national readership.To join into the national debate in Art, Chicago needs a voice. Writers who care about art, are art critics and share their experience with readers. Unfortunately, given the deplorable art education, artists are not to much minded to take art criticism seriously, unless they have a show and want a review. The worst review any artist can get is no review. Booster-ism and publicity will not substitute for caring and incisive criticism. I do not believe what Jeff Koons says. The market is the critic…though it provides mega bucks. The implications of that remark are beyond the scope of this interview. I will say this, the art world is not a walk in the park. The gold coast attempts to make it so. In so doing, reality denies the art world is a jungle red in tooth and claw. That is where artists live, in an unregulated world that preys on the weakest.

SG: What is the new direction of the New Art Examiner in comparison to its first run?

DG: Times change as do values. I am not of this generation for the record Jane Addams Allen and I were approximately 20 years older than the previous staff of the NEW  ART EXAMINER. Human and Creative values do not change. People just get older and enlightenment may descend.  We all love the art of prehistoric cave men. Internet has changed the world, expanded personal space but also cramped it. The NAEN will respond to the art world as it did before and as it finds hopefully without “fear or favor”. There is no new direction. As response, the NAEN will, as before, practice journalism and observe as far as possible the pulse that filters through the community. It will be as politically incorrect as before. please read Richard Sigismund’s article on Neoteric art site, on Fear and Favor which is a new response to the first editorial printed October 1974. It is still relevant today.

SG: What does the New Art Examiner has to offer to a new generation of artists, curators and cultural workers?

DG: The NAE has always had open doors. The list of previous writers who went on to find professional status is long and worthy. It offers training into the real condition of art practice. I take pride in quoting Buzz spec for whom we organized a panel “wide eyed reading”. A focus on the new art examiner for the College Art Association conference last week in Chicago. The NAE will print all letters to the editor. I was called “Fat Filth” by Roger Brown in a letter to the editor. The NAE offers all artists reviewed equal space, maybe more to reject and deconstruct any critic that has reviewed their work.The New Art Examiner now as before will have guest editors. The tradition of Jane Addams underpinned the NAE which essentialy said that change was inventible and the working of society had to recognize and accommodate.

SG: How can the art community support the New Art Examiner Now?

DG: Read the publication, write letters to the editor, help with discourse, suggest topics of interest, take out a subscription, and one as a christmas present for an artist. Even suggest to a gallery owner that a little advertising will help to pay writers. Above all, do not see writers as most see the police. They are called when you want something from them. Understand that writers just as artists are humans who have opinions and preferences. Good writers care about art. They do not make make much if any money. To understand that a lively art community depends on ideas in art, words and courage. Art fairs do not help. Original thinking has to be recognized and cherished. They can and should challenge the world. Chicago will never have enough money to take on the BIG Apple. But art and words can. Art has to be larger than boosting individual ego.

For more information, visit:

Hull House Flyer 2


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