The Wall Street Journal published a review of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery's major exhibition "Wish You Were Here," which documents the creative activity in and around this city during the 1970s. In his review, critic Richard B. Woodward calls the show "an act of civic boosterism couched within an adventurous historical survey."
The review elicited a pair of comments from Edmund Cardoni, executive director of Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, one of many institutions which played a vital role in the creative life of the city during the period the exhibition covers (and one, like CEPA and the Albright-Knox, that continues to do so today). Cardoni, who finds the the review condescending, writes:
Predictably for the WSJ (as for most NYC and other big market publications), although we out here in the provinces appreciate the attention, this is a bit condescending, and in that condescension, inaccurate. Mr. Woodward doesn't get the point that it wasn't only about the individual avant-garde artists who were living and working here—though there were certainly plenty of those, in the 1970s as well as both before and since—but the curators, spaces, and institutions that uniquely supported the development and creation of major (even career-making) projects by visiting and Buffalo-based artists alike, the former of whom who came here for the opportunities, synergies, open spaces (in the case of Artpark), and spirit of collaboration they couldn't find in quite the same way in NYC and other acknowledged art capitals (i.e., commercial markets). I have two questions for Mr. Woodward: Should all the usual coverage of the NYC art scene (and NYC's resident artists) in the WSJ, NYT, etc., be viewed as mere "boosterism" of the NYC art scene and its artists? Why not? Should exhibitions, installations, and other artistic productions commissioned or presented by NYC arts institutions but involving non-resident artists from places and times other than present-day NYC itself (i.e., "local artists")—oh, let's say from France or China or the 19th century, to name but three examples—not count in those institutions' favor because the artists themselves aren't really from NYC, but are from "elsewhere," i.e., they may have "exhibited in…the city" [in this case NYC], "but were not based there"? Respectfully, Edmund Cardoni, Director, Hallwalls.