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The Year in CultureGrrl: Kicking the “*!%&@” Out of Plan B (for “Blog”)

For me, 2017 was a year of transition: It marked the end of my decades-long run as a freelancer for the Wall Street Journal, precipitated by my having openly expressed unhappiness with the cutbacks in its superlative arts coverage, which I was proud to be part of.

Disinclined to scramble for assignments in my grandparent stage of life (with three new family members so far), I decided, after two unsuccessful article queries, to take a page from Sheryl Sandberg. In her recent book about facing adversity far more serious than a mere editorial squabble, Sandberg famously wrote:

Option A is not available. So let’s just kick the shit out of Option B.

Option “B,” for me, is “Blog.” CultureGrrl the editor is always supportive, if perhaps overly indulgent of CultureGrrl the writer’s quirks (and typos). I’ve occasionally broken news, but, more frequently, I’ve provided early, insightful critical analysis of major artworld stories and important exhibitions, informed by my decades of looking, learning and interviewing hundreds of major artworld figures over the course of a long career.

At the Metropolitan Museum’s “Michelangelo” show, informed by a wide-ranging conversation with curator Carmen Bambach
Photo ©Jill Krementz

The only mainstream-media work I did in 2017 was unpaid: my on-camera commentary for Al Jazeera English about the Berkshire Museum fracas. (I enjoyed it, but it has not launched a brilliant broadcasting career.)

Because the blog is now my only professional home, I recently decided to reestablish my “Donate” button, so that my work would not be entirely pro bono. I was gratified by the early returns—not only financial, but also emotional, thanks to these much appreciated notes that I received from donors who felt moved to respond to my “Thanks from CultureGrrl” email:

—Wish it could be more, to thank you for the great job you do. News/media coverage of the area has become so minimal and dumbed-down. But there is hope with CultureGrrl!

—I appreciate all the information you have provided and your comments over the years.

—Love your blog; wish you wrote every day.

—CultureGrrl must go on, Lee!

—I get my best news and commentary from you, Lee, and happy to support you!

—Thank you so much for your fresh voice in art journalism! I always look forward to your new articles!

—Can’t live without this: It’s the only thing I pay for on the web. Truth to power!

That’s pretty much what I’m going for.

Once again, art-lings, allow me to offer you my Best Wishes for an Art-Full New Year, along with CultureGrrl’s Top 20 Stories for 2017, in chronological order, with an emphasis on the controversies that we’ve been following and exhibitions that caught my eye.

This year’s list reflects my obsession with two topics that have broad implications for the future of small museums (in the first instance) and major museums (in the second): the Berkshire Museum’s deplorable deaccessions, and the twists and turns of the Metropolitan Museum’s administrative upheavals and financial challenges.

May the coming year bring happy resolutions to both of these continuing sagas, as well as new controversies to ponder and achievements to celebrate.

Buck Stops with the CEO: Holding Tom Campbell Accountable for The Met Mess (with podcasts, video)

Who Should Lead the Met? Tom Campbell Decamps UPDATED

Ten Suggestions for Tom Campbell’s Successor at the Met

The “Resistance” Biennial: The Whitney Museum Gets Tough UPDATED

“Emet” & Emmett: Why Truth-Telling (like Schutz’s) about Till’s Murder Should Be Ecumenical UPDATED

Out-of-Towner Downer: Metropolitan Museum Considers a Xenophobic Admission Policy

Metropolitan Museum as Renegade: Reorganization Defies AAMD’s Professional Standards

“Public Trust” Bust: Berkshire Museum to Jettison 40 Works (including 2 artist-donated Rockwells)

Memo to Berkshire Museum: Homeless National Academy Suspends Its School, Slashes Price for Its Posh Digs

How to Save the Berkshire Museum: A Roadmap Provided by the Endangered Danforth Art Museum

Berserk in the Berkshires: Museum’s Perverse Plan Underscores Need for Government Regulations

Smith Smites: Tom Campbell’s Precipitous Fall from Favor (plus, my I-told-you-so)

CultureGrrl Video: My Opinionated Tour of the Embattled Berkshire Museum

How Might the Guggenheim Museum Have Dodged the Pit-Bull Onslaught?

Salvaging “Salvator Mundi”: Inside Look at “Extensive Restoration” of Leonardo at Christie’s

Berkshire Bombshells: Revelations in the Attorney General’s Berkshire Museum Brief

Apparition’s Condition: Will a Museum Buy Leonardo da Vinci’s Unsettling “Salvator Mundi”?

Unsettled at the Met: Breuer Building, Southwest Wing, Director’s Search

More “Mundi” Conundrums: Exactly Who Paid the Leonardo’s Princely Price (and why)?

A Plenitude of Nudes: Drawn to Michelangelo’s Musclemen at the Met

Finally, as I did last year, let me introduce you to my newest family member—CultureGrandson of California—three days old, below, but now toddling towards his first birthday:

A NOTE TO MY READERS: If you’ve enjoyed my coverage this past year, please consider supporting CultureGrrl by clicking the “Donate” button in the righthand column. Contributors of $10 or more are added to my email blast for notifications of new posts.

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