Saturday, May 7, 2016

Martha Schwendener, Visits R.I.T.

Thursday,  May 5th,  2016
Art Critic,  Martha Schwendener
The New York Times
visiting Rochester Institute of Technology

This week Martha Schwendener, the art critic for The New York Times visited the School of Art at R.I.T. for a public talk and some studio reviews. She gave her "boilerplate" introduction to the life of the writer and art critic, a profession which has become quite rare in the pages of many daily newspapers in this digital age.  In the past we have invited other art critics to come to campus to have discussions with students and faculty, among them are poets and writers such as Barry Schwabsky of The Nation,  Jed Perl who now writes for The New York Review of Books, Bill Zimmer who wrote for The Soho News and the Times,  and Michael Kimmelman who now is the architecture critic for the Times. 

Martha Schwendener has also written for The New Yorker, Artforum, and The Brooklyn Rail among others.  She recently earned her Ph.D in Art History from The City University of New York and among her specialties is her interest in photography.  Martha has been writing reviews since the early 1990's and her work regularly has her out visiting galleries and museums primarily in the New York City art scene.

Jasper Johns "The Art Critic"

Early in her talk at R.I.T. she spoke about some highlights of the art critic's life as seen in the creative works of visual artists such as Jasper Johns ( above ) who places two mouths where the eyes should have been,  behind a pair of glasses.  Martha is doing a good job with her reviews, and she frequently writes about artists I know who have not gotten the recognition they deserve.  Martha brought along a fleet of images to show of artists she has recently reviewed, and I was pleased that she brought along an image from a recent exhibition of paintings by Elena Sisto, who is a friend, from a show at Lori Bookstein's Gallery in Chelsea.

Painting by Elena Sisto

What I did not know about Martha was her interest in the Occupy movement, and the effects the movement had on the cultural institutions such as The Museum of Modern Art.  I think that this was under-reported and I was grateful to see the impression it made - to show that artists have not lost their activism in the face of a gargantuan economic imperative in the art world of today.