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Middle-Aged Blog Slog: CultureGrrl’s Second-Anniversary Makeover

Tatami Whammy: Me and My Tea

What’s this? Blogging can be hazardous to your health?

Matt Richtel‘s recent story about dropped-dead middle-aged bloggers, published in the NY Times on the day that I left for my (non-working) vacation in Japan, struck a chord. So did a comment by a Buddhist monk who spoke to my tour group before a CliffsNotes version of a Japanese tea ceremony (above) in which I participated with CultureDaughter. The monk’s metaphor: You have to empty a glass to be able to fill it again.

Today, Apr. 23, marks my second anniversary as CultureGrrl. My first post was a fiction: I pretended to have an audience, even though, for the first two weeks, I told absolutely no one (except my husband) that I was starting this. I then e-mailed my URL to several prominent people in the artworld whose opinions I trusted. Their consensus: Continue. I’m glad I did. But now I need to shift gears.

Don’t worry, art-lings. I’m in fine health and I have no plans to convert to Buddhism or even to stop blogging. But the edgy, jittery sensation I’ve been experiencing from constantly staring at a computer screen, not to mention the tension of trying to break news or at least stay on top of it, does not feel cardiovascularly correct. I can’t help identifying with my contemporaries who have blogged their last.

I still enjoy the challenge of blogging and, especially, the sense that for a growing audience, I’ve been providing content and commentary that’s well received and at times useful or even influential. But I always knew there would be a limit to how long I wanted to focus nearly all my time and energy on this quick-take medium, for no money (other than from assignments and speaking engagements that came my way because of the blogging). My limit has now been reached.

After imbibing the words of Buddhist wisdom, my initial decision was to empty the blog. But I’m no monk, and I can’t turn my back on what I’ve built. The idea of pulling the plug made me feel like I was abandoning a calling and an audience: I really do appreciate those of you who appreciate me.

What I can and will do is stop trying always to be the first to bring you news that I think will engage you. Constantly prowling the World Wide Web in an effort to be a one-woman artworld news agency is not tenable, long term. And it’s not a healthy lifestyle: I really do need to get out more!

What I don’t want to relinquish is my bully pulpit. There are issues and events (including the occasional exhibition) that I will feel impelled to comment on, fast and furiously. I hope that’s the aspect of CultureGrrl’s infinite variety that you find most seductive. (For those of you who caught the reference—today is not only CultureGrrl’s anniversary; it’s also Shakespeare’s birthday…or so they say.)

I intend to devote myself more to longer projects and less to rapid-fire blogging—weighing in not several times a day, not even once a day, but when I feel like it. If scoops occasionally fall into my lap, I’ll still pass them on. But from now on, I’ll rule the blog instead of the other way around.

This curtailment will doubtless come as good news to the many for whom I’ve been a thorn in the side. For those who are faithful devotees of the Cult of CultureGrrl: I will continue keeping you informed about my offline professional pursuits and I will likely continue my practice of supplementing links to my mainstream-media work with additional related information and commentary.

Right now I’m preparing another lesson in the CultureGrrl Curriculum—a talk tomorrow evening on the different approaches to displaying antiquities that have been adopted by major museums (including some to which I’ve just recently traveled) . I’ll be making my powerful points on PowerPoint at Steven Miller‘s Seton Hall University graduate seminar on museum professions, where I also lectured last year.

I’ve been so pleased with the deservedly enthusiastic reponse, during my two recent foreign forays, to the pungent posts on CultureGrrl by my illustrious guest blogger Martin Filler that I may try to expand the outside-contributor idea. That’s still a work-in-progress.

Our relationship is not ending, just evolving. I still love you, art-lings, but I need more space…outside the confines of cyberspace.

But wait a minute! Did you hear about that letter on cultural-property issues regarding African antiquities that Philippe de Montebello recenty fired off to Kwame Opoku? And did you catch today’s press release that the Philadelphia Museum, as expected, has sold three Eakinses to help pay for “The Gross Clinic”?

No? Please. Don’t get me started!


From Ron Hartwig, vice president for communications, J. Paul Getty Trust:
From my first cell phone “Lee-jack,” about a nanosecond after arriving at the Getty, when you said, “Just give me a few lines about antiquities,” and I saw them emblazoned across a piece you wrote for the Wall Street Journal, to our sparring over the last two years, and the chuckles we have had, all of us at the Getty will miss your daily dose.
Our hats off to you, Lee, for pulling this off so well, and making a contribution to spreading news in the art world, even though, from time to time, we may have been a bit, shall we say, irritated. But, I always knew I’d get an energy jolt in the morning when I logged on to CultureGrrl.
Best to you as you sort through things you want to do, and we will keep a watchful eye for your periodic offerings.

From David Gill, Looting Matters blog:
Congratulations on your second year. I too had read that report on heart attacks and blogging…and I am running two blogs at the moment…and contributing to several others. (Plus trying to finish my book.) Keep up your excellent work.

From Sharon Butler, Two Coats of Paint blog:

Remember last summer when you announced you were going on
vacation…and then continued to post as usual? That’s when I suspected
you were powerless over the blog! I’ll still look forward to reading
CultureGrrl, probably more so as the posts become less frequent.

From Suzanne Fredericq:
Of all the postings on ArtJournal, yours are the ones
I most look forward to: very witty, funny and full of
good common sense. Enjoy your tea, sip it slowly, and
then come back, drop by drop.

From Iris You:

I’ve developed a habit of checking your site several times during a
day…actually went through some withdrawal while you were away
because Martin posted only one each day. But I support your decision.
This should also curve my habit so I get some actual work done for
myself! (You know—the job that pays my mortgage)

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