Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Artblahg

pretentious_art_fag_button-p145425377142568342t5sj_400Here is a shocking revelation for you: The Philly visual art scene, like most location-specific arts or music scenes, is a humid, claustrophobic bubble that is divided into two camps. There are The Supporters, who lavish praise upon a coterie of like minded-artists via not-often-very-critical critics, who seek to build things together and put prestige where there was none before. Then there are The Curmudgeons, who mostly adhere to Groucho Marx’s adage about one never wanting to be a part of a club that would have oneself; you can track reasons for this pose to several emotional responses, including jealousy, bitterness, cynicism or just good old fashioned selfishness or the loathing of other humans that we all, to some degree, share. Both sides kind of have a point, and lest the non-artists among you chortle, don’t kid yourselves: Just about every community of any kind can be (and often is) divided up in exactly this way.

Here in Philly, this has produced a debate that never quite dies within the various fine arts scenes. Do art scenes that are sycophantic/friendly by nature ever produce work of real quality? What’s the role of/damage done by the local critic that only says nice things? And what about conflicts of interest? If we are to be completely honest, this is the critical axis to which Philebrity has been, to some degree, a direct reaction against. (But in our case, most of the focus is on musicians, who are giant babies anyway and have had this coming to them since forever.) We bring all this up as way of setting up the context in which The Artblahg — “A SATIRE ON ARTBLOGS AND THE FOLLIES OF THE ART WORLD” (their caps) — has appeared. Judging from its body-double design and objects of ridicule, its target would seem to be pretty direct: The Artblog, by Roberta Fallon and Libby Rosof. (Shades of Celebridelphia/Philebrity here, too.) Fallon and Rosof have spent years now in the service of disseminating info about the local visual arts scene, and to some, they are heroes; to others, they’re Part of the Problem. If you’re looking for us to weigh in on which side we stand, let’s just say this: These women are dedicated, and have spent what is probably thousands of hours propping up that in which they believe; in our better moments, we try to do the same (you know, when we’re not talking about how Diplo has fallen off). Artblahg has been around for five minutes and isn’t even funny. And trust us, there’s a lot of material they can draw from. On the upshot, this at least will give people something of substance to talk about at all of those First Friday openings tonight in case some of the art is boring or bad. And you know, it just might be.