The Miami New Times is our only weekly, and it does a pretty good job at advocating the shows it features. I understand that artists and galleries need the promotion. I also think that criticism is not divorced from pledging for art. iow*, saying you don't like something is not saying art sucks.
Carlos Suarez de Jesus, the New Times' arts writer has a flair for writing, loves art and cares for the local arts scene. If there is anyone to blame here is the Miami New Times editor and his idea of mission for arts writing, i.e., to entertain a Miami "average reader" that produces less than average writing.
For his July 11 piece, de Jesus reviews two shows at DotFifty One Gallery, described as "a pair of pitch-perfect shows [which evoke] an atmospheric vision of social and political dissonance." He declares,
"Universal Melancholy" features an arresting suite of portraits lensed by Swiss shutterbug Liliane Eberle during recent visits to Tunisia, Morocco, Bali, Cuba, and Cameroon.Let's forget about de Jesus' enthusiasm for a second. Let's suppose he is sincere. He uses "arresting" to describe the photos. Arresting means "striking, or attracting and holding attention". If a seasoned writer claims something like that, he should support it. De Jesus does none of that. Instead, he immediately lends the microphone to DotFiftyone's owner, Isaac Perelman, and quotes him literally:
The fashion in which these shows balance each other is uncanny [...] Both of these artists have served as witnesses of the turmoil confronting humanity from very different perspectives and from vastly opposite chronological periods... [Still], both of these shows reflect social and political realities currently relevant to all of us in a subliminal way.iow, the pitch-sale for the "pitch-perfect shows" is deferred to the gallerist, who does a pretty good job considering he's, well, the gallery owner, and has a vested interest. Still, Perelman doesn't explain to the reader any expressive properties contained in the photos, because what makes an image arresting is how faithfully the photographer conveys "the turmoil confronting humanity," not what (s)he has witnessed. As a journalist, that's de Jesus' burden of proof (he makes the claim, not Perelman). One gets the feeling that either the writer is not really convinced of what he says, or (even worse) that he's clueless of what's going on.
Please, Carlos, your readers deserve better.
* (in other words).