I don’t get it. What’s different? Oh, that’s right, it’s the logo. It’s too bad actually. The old one looked so New Wave-kid-in-the-corner. The latest logo font for the New Art Examiner May-June 2001 issue seems so boring. It spans the top of the cover much like you’d assume all caps block text would. But the subhead explains the Chicago-based journal’s recently instituted and forceful purpose: “ART & VISUAL CULTURE FROM THE GREATER MIDWEST.” The Midwest ain’t just Chicago’s downtown anymore. This issue of the 28-year-old publication also boasts a new publisher: Caryn Koplik has left Wall Street marketing so she can cradle the art periodical’s new span of regional coverage. Of course, there’s a campy cover photo hyping all that is (moan and groan) stereotypical about the plains area: a barren landscape, a ranch-style home and a red barn shed. A tattered, truck stop-style sign reads loudly, “Midway Eat.” It’s that same tired vision — the Midwest is halfway on your way to somewhere more important, it’s an anonymous landscape to pass through on your way out East or West, a piss-and-run on the art scene’s radar. But the innards of this issue prove the cover image wrong, so don’t judge a book …
The pages now boast glossy, full-bleed, four-color scans of painted canvas with scribbled script, slick digital designs and shot-from-the-cuff photos accompanying articles; they are decidedly uncool cool layouts. The reviews section offers long and short write-ups of unique gallery shows in Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Wisconsin and Iowa. Alexandra Schwartz covers the U of M Museum of Art exhibit entitled “Scenarios: Recent Work by Lorna Simpson.” Carol Novak, an Ann Arbor artist and writer, reviews Detroit Artists Market’s “Colorforms.” And Mysoon Rizk explains the Iain Baxter show at the Museum of New Art in Pontiac. All three authors point to the important messages relayed by the creators. Issues of race, consumerism and environmental decay stand as strong testimony for the work that distinguishes our city from, say, Kansas City, Mo. In future issues, let’s hope NAE continues to make improvements and adjustments in recognizing that Detroit’s inventive work shows up off the beaten path. And it’s absolutely necessary for international art enthusiasts to know this about the Midwest: They may look alike and walk alike and at times they even talk alike, but no two cows are the same.
Rebecca Mazzei is Metro Times arts editor. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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