Issues with coverage As a sponsor of the Art vs. Art at the Fountain Square Theatre on May 7, I am happy to see the local media sponsorship and coverage. However, as is often the case with her writing, I found Mary Lee Pappas’ article to be catty and unbalanced (Culture Vulture, May 12-19). This is fine for a society or fashion column, but it undermines the credibility of NUVO’s visual arts coverage and hurts our city’s growing cultural standing. So I’d like to offer a few Journalism 101 suggestions.
First of all, use actual facts. For instance, attendance for this event was closer to 600 and participation was 75 individuals, not the 300 and 64, respectively, reported. Also, this event was not just for artists. Many first-time painters joined in the fun, and more than a dozen serious artists (apparently willing to forgo taking themselves too seriously) came from Louisville, Dayton, Chicago and other regional locales.
Second, obtain facts from those who know them. Building positive relationships with reliable sources is often good for news or feature content. Any one of the 10 organizers not interviewed for the article would happily offer accurate information about this grander-scale Art vs. Art.
Third, when covering an event, actually cover it. Quote the people who participate. In this case, it would be nice to know why dozens of people were willing to spend four hours creating a painting with the risk of it being destroyed on stage. Quotes from a friend of the writer who did not participate due to philosophical issues (why was he there, then?) are suspect as a writer’s device, not substance for an article about the subject.
Fourth, use the word “fuck” only where appropriate, if at all. The usage of the MC’s quote was a sardonic commentary of the writer. It did nothing to capture the true flavor of the night, and was a shameful, transparent attempt to put important community leaders mentioned in the paragraph in an awkward context.
Finally, when it comes to covering the visual arts, please send reporters without burned bridges within the community, without personal vendettas and without a narrow understanding of the subject. It does nothing for NUVO’s integrity, and it is embarrassing to our entire art scene as we host a growing number of knowledgeable guests from other cities, such as the artists currently featured in the new iMOCA (Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art).
I doubt I will be alone as I continue to support Art vs. Art in its evolution into something potentially relevant to the emerging Post-Post Modern world. It’s 2004, and positive change for the visual arts is afoot in Indianapolis. I hope that NUVO will be a part of it.
Alan Schoff Mansuzak/Schoff, Inc. Innovative Advertising & Other Stuff
Breaking a mold This is in response to Patrick Mack’s letter (Mail, May 12-19) to the editor about Art vs. Art.
I too was a participant in Art vs. Art and I thought it was an excellent time with great energy. Mr. Mack said he entered with an open mind, which is what you have to do when the event’s tagline is “SOME ART WILL DIE.” I understand people having an issue with art being destroyed, but as one of the participants, for me, that was what drove my creativity. My goal was to do a painting I would not be embarrassed of and I accomplished that. My painting was saved from the “Wheel of Death,” but if it had not been, “My Art Would Have Died” and I would have accepted that since that was part of the deal.
I hope Mr. Mack understands all that Primary Colours does for arts in this city and abroad. They put on all of the Allotropy shows, which are group shows that draw nice size crowds; they have also sent art supplies to Afghanistan to promote art to youngsters there. This is not all they do, they are a huge asset to the arts community in Indianapolis and I for one am thankful that they are pushing the envelope for different ways for people to come out and enjoy the arts in non-conventional ways and help raise awareness that art is everywhere and worth everyone’s time.
I will return to all future Art vs. Art events and my friends that were with me will return and I’m sure spread the word that Art vs. Art is definitely a great time!
Thanks Primary Colours for putting on an event that helps break the conservative Midwest art scene mold.
Brian L. Phillips Indianapolis
Correcting some errors We at Primary Colours would like to thank NUVO for their sponsorship and Mary Lee Pappas for her review of Art vs. Art. Upon reading Ms. Pappas’ journalistic offering, we felt compelled to inform you of a couple of facts and correct some errors. Seventy-five (not 64) artists participated in the event which took place before a crowd of 600-plus (not 300). Also, she misquoted our mission statement, which in its entirety reads “Primary Colours is a non-profit organization devoted to integrating visual artists and the community to create and sustain a thriving environment for the arts.”
We would also like to take this opportunity to respond to a rather negative letter from Patrick Mack, full-time metal sculptor. The official rules for Art vs. Art have been posted on our Web site for over three months. Perhaps, Pat, you read them when you registered online. Well, if not, then you surely read the rules before you signed a copy of them when you checked in and received the provided materials. The “wonton destruction and mayhem” you refer to should have come at no surprise. If you didn’t agree with what the possibilities were, then perhaps you shouldn’t have participated. Anyway, you looked like you were having a pretty good time on our video footage.
You wrote, “How great it would be if Primary Colours took this energy and enthusiasm to create and display paintings through a similar venue.” “One where the art isn’t destroyed” and “The public would have more time to absorb and decide to purchase the work.” We have done that, it’s called Allotropy, and we have done it six times: generating over $50,000 for the local arts community. And if our memories serve us, you had hesitation about that event, too.
This event was meant to be something different from the average art exhibition. An event that the audience didn’t just go see, but an event that they took part in. Art doesn’t have to be so pretentious and self-important. It can be fun and entertaining as well. If this event caught the attention and attendance of people who wouldn’t normally attend art functions, great. Maybe they had a good time and will attend future, more conventional exhibits. To say that this event “turns back the clock on our future as artists in this city” is absurd. One event, no matter what you might think of it, will not be able to do that. Over the last five years, Primary Colours has done nothing but good things for the Indianapolis Arts Community. Whether it be through Allotropy, the Primary Gallery, the annual TOYS exhibit or Art vs. Art, we are always promoting visual artists and exposing new audiences to their work. We have done all of this on a volunteer basis, we do not get paid. We do it for the love of art and to make where we live a better place.
We ask you, Pat, what events or programs have you developed to advance the local arts community? None that we are aware of. Perhaps you should redirect energies used to tear down unique and innovative art events and create something yourself.
Jeff Martin, Fred Shields, Dane Sauer, Jim Clinger, Robert Evans, Larry Endicott Primary Colours