Our Girl in Chicago is on to something when she recalls (see below) how moving to Chicago taught her that New York’s cultural snobbishness is “precisely a form of provincialism, and one that was all the more invidious for being called sophistication.” Amen to that.
As regular visitors to the right-hand column know, I write a monthly wrapup of the arts in New York City for the Sunday Washington Post. It’s called “Second City.” I gave it that name in order to tease my adopted town about its chronic self-centeredness. It’s absolutely true that more artistic activity takes place here than in any other American city, but that doesn’t mean New York has a monopoly on important art, much less interesting art. Tyler Green, one of our fellow artsjournal.com bloggers, was listening to OGIC and me on the radio last night, and e-mailed afterward to tell us that he’d been struck recently by the vitality of the Los Angeles contemporary art scene–not just in and of itself, but by comparison with the state of the visual arts in Manhattan. And I wrote a piece about George Balanchine last year for The Yale Review (it’ll be in A Terry Teachout Reader) in which I made the following observation:
New York-based balletomanes who view with alarm the continuing decline of New York City Ballet need to start getting used to the notion that the city long known as “the dance capital of the world” may well be on the verge of becoming no more than primus inter pares in the increasingly decentralized world of post-Balanchine ballet.
Last year, the U.S. State Department asked me to write an essay for on-line distribution to other countries about the state of the arts in America. In that essay (on which I drew for the introduction to the Teachout Reader), one of the things I talked about was what I called “the ‘deprovincialization’ of America’s regional performing-arts groups.” I don’t discuss that nearly often enough on this blog. It looks like Our Girl–and you–will be doing it for me this week. Good.
P.S. Welcome back, OGIC. You were much missed last week.