N o v e m b e r   2 0 0 4

we got mail!

Art-world dominance? Now we know who shoulda run for president!
Portland Art News 1, everyone else 0


Thank you for including Portland Art News (Portland's First Professional Arts Journal™) in your little review of local art writing. Unlike other professional art organizations, PAN appreciates the contributions that small DIY groups like NW Drizzle make to our diverse community. It is the abundance of insignificant organizations like NW Drizzle that make Portland a significant place in which to live. PAN applauds your efforts.

I was a little disappointed that there was no scoring included in the review. How are we supposed to determine who is winning? Surprisingly, you neglected to give a favorable review of yourself (although your paternal tone may indicate where you see yourself in the field). Judging by the competition (and using the parlance of Critical i), I would have to score it PAN: 1, everyone else: 0.

Your less than favorable review of the Stephen Cleary/Randy Gragg essay on Harrell Fletcher and
Miranda July's Learning to Love You More, which appeared in the Core Sample catalog, is a little off base. I can assure you that Stephen Cleary is the most brilliant, cosmopolitan and ambitious thinker of our time. Smalltown editors like Randy Gragg and Camela Raymond are so threatened by Cleary that they frequently accuse him of ham handed self-aggrandizement, mercilessly editing his razor sharp prose in a conspiratorial effort to silence his mighty voice. This is the price that cultural leaders have to put up with when living in such a rustic locale (I'm sure you know what I mean). PAN has uncovered actual correspondence from Randy Gragg and Camela Raymond to Stephen Cleary that illustrates the kind of resistance to genius that is (unfortunately) the norm here in Mayberry. In order for Portland to gain a foothold on the tall and unsteady ladder leading to International Art World Prominence, editors are going to have to realize that change is here, and its name is Stephen Cleary.

Chas Bowie's piece on Tim Bavington is the best review he has written to date. In his prime, Evel Knievel could not jump the chasm that divides Hickey's writing from his taste in painting. What was so mean spirited about the review? Was it Bowie's discussion of Hickey? It's doubtful that anyone would know who Bavington is without his connection to Hickey. Was it Bowie's brief mention of money? Money and the things we buy with it are of primary interest in American society. Hickey writes a great deal about this subject. If you think that Hilary Duff's latest CD is the bee's knees, it tells people something about what you value. If you buy a Bavington painting, you are revealing something about what you value. One critic's "bartender that mixes up exotic cocktails" is another's overdose of "pixie sticks, lava lamps and American Idol CDs." Is it possible that your reaction to the review originates from your professional connection to Bavington and not Bowie's "professional jealousy" of his success?

Richard Speer may be at his most interesting when he is reviewing the so-called cheese factories. Speer has an addiction for candy colored crack, and the fact that it doesn't matter where he finds his next fix gives him (if not the art) some credibility. If you joined forces and continued hammering away on the established talking points of sophistication, evolution and directed art scene growth, you could easily transform the cheese factories into the most important art spots in the city. Portland Art News achieved its leadership position in the community by never allowing an inconsequential thing like art get in the way of our mission for complete art world dominance. It's all about ambition.

Systematically yours,
Clay Hawthorne
Portland Art News

Jeff Jahn Responds:

Dear Stephen, er, Clay,

Thanks, although I can't stop listening to Jethro Tull's flatulently silly music long enough to respond in the proper Northwest-sanctioned defeatist-regionalist tone. But rest assured that PAN has clearly taken the lead role in quasi-factual word-whacking and I hope that all other publications cede that genre to your capable hands.

Jeff Jahn
Art Editor
NW Drizzle

E-mail us your correspondence at editor@nwdrizzle.com, or check out some of our favorite letters in the mail bag archives.

site design / management / host: ae
© 2001-2005 nwdrizzle.com / all rights reserved.