Bloggers aren’t LIKE artists, bloggers ARE artists

Blogging: The new Cedar Bar…or an integral part of my art practice?

During the ArtTable Blog This! panel at X-Initiative, Paddy Johnson, Kelly Shindler, Barry Hoggard, William Powhida, and Ed Winkleman held forth on basic blog culture and strategy to a standing-room-only crowd that included plenty of art blogging luminaries as well as New York magazine critic Jerry Saltz. This morning on Facebook, Saltz declared to his 4500 followers that online criticism is the way of the future.

“Good bloggers put it out there, write with a distinctive point of view, in a readable voice, in clear language, with energy, surprise, and a willingness to be wrong or embarrassed in public.” Saltz writes. “Like ARTISTS! Moralism has no place in criticism. Moralism has no place in blogs. Moralism is the voice of the Father, of authority. A blog is made-up as one goes along, is by force fly-by-night, a way to be part of the crowd, not ABOVE or BETTER THAN the crowd.

“Me? I see them or this [his Facebook wall] as a new Cedar Bar.

 Cedar Bar, c. 1951

“Anyone can come into the new bar and participate. Pecking orders break down; authority peters out; things get said; ideas are tried out and shot down. One day you’ve nailed it; the next day you’re clueless. Just like in your own work. At 4:06AM you are certain that everything that you’re making must be torn apart. By 4:13AM you are madly inventing … See Morea new way to do this. It goes on every night of your working life. Blogs seem to have this in something like real time. Darkness and changes of weather and mood are built into their DNA.”

I agree with Saltz but would go a step further to say that the most obsessive bloggers aren’t LIKE artists, we ARE artists. Our medium is blogging, and the blogs we create are site-specific projects. The blogosphere is undeniably a gathering place akin to the Cedar Bar, but more importantly, like other art practices, the process of maintaining a blog provides a distinctive form of existential clarity. And, as Saltz says, anyone can watch the process unfold, in real time.

Related article I wrote last week for the New Haven Advocate:
Everyone’s a Critic
Check out Lindsay Pollock‘s Twitter coverage of the panel discussion. 


  1. confused about MORALISM… not sure what he is talking about in this context… anybody? Is he saying "critics shouldn't call artists bad or decadent people"?

  2. Adam,

    I can't be certain, but I think Saltz is referring to this particular blogger: https://www.twocoatsofpaint.com/2009/11/critic-on-critic-jerry-saltz-tells-dc.html


  3. "the process of maintaining a blog provides a distinctive form of existential clarity" — well said Sharon.

  4. actually, i think of myself more of as a surgeon…with a god complex…. bwah ha ha ha ha…

  5. *hah* c-mONSTER!

    Great thoughts, it makes me feel my rambling might be justified ^_~

  6. Adam & Sharon,

    I took those "Moralism" admonishments as a jab at Tyler Green as well.

    Art Whirled

  7. I like your formulation of blogs (and related platforms) as a "new Cedar Bar," though I'm skeptical of considering blogs (generally speaking) as art and bloggers as artists. Reminds me too much of the whole "curators as artists" bit, for one thing. Isn't it enough for blogs to be blogs? That is, to borrow from something I once wrote a combination of "different measures of shop talk, gossip, personal reflections, advocacy, journal or diary writing, news commentary, and a host of other things in addition to some criticism [serving as equivalents to the] informal conversations, pamphlets or little magazines, 'zines, artist's writings, etc., that have played roles in various ways throughout different periods of art." Or as you put it, a new Cedar Bar.

    On a final note: I take your point that TG was a target here, but that aside, does anyone else find Saltz's Facebook ramblings a bit embarrassing? I'm not on Facebook, let alone his "friend" there, so I don't see them firsthand, but lot of what I see quoted (like the bit here) is just awful. I know all too well that online writing can be hasty writing, but still: this guy is supposed to be a top professional, and that's the stuff he comes up with? The breathlessness, the simple-mindedness, the use of caps–like I said, embarrassing.

  8. Jl-I absolutely agree that not ALL blogs are part of an artist's practice, but there are many that are–like Sharon A's and Tim Buckwalter's blogs for instance. Some blogs are indeed just blogs, but others are art projects in their own right.

    RE Saltz on Facebook: Saltz's FB threads are building community and creating a bridge between artists and critics, so I hope he continues.


  9. building community puhhhleeeaaze.

    where was saltz and his 300 regulars in the last five years of artblog commenting? they evidently spend a LOT of time on-line and like reading art stuff… i'm certain most (including saltz) have been reading all the blogs… but i don't recognize ANY of those names from blog comments.

    his facebook seems more about his pathological need to command attention *and* his commenters desire to be acknowledged by a famous art critic. i would believe the community building desire if any of them had commented on any artblogs in the past five years.

  10. While Green's call for bans and firings is, as Saltz attested, troubling, I do see art and art criticism as an inherently moral enterprise. Perhaps, though, I'm old-fashioned. 😉

    At any rate, keep up the great work you're doing here.

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