If you think newspaper coverage of visual arts in Fort Worth stinks, you're not alone, and the Fort Worth Art Dealers Association has got a crusade for you. It's more constructive than what one local artist suggested. "We could make used-gum sculpture and place it on every single Fort Worth Star-Telegram and FWWeekly paper rack," he says, to protest the lack of dedicated visual-arts writers in Cowtown-based media. But more effective and less likely to result in arrest is the association's soon-to-be-announced letter-writing, fax-sending, e-mailing barrage. Association President Don Hicks says the 14 member organizations will show their displeasure beginning in mid-April. "None of the local media can hold their head up high about supporting the arts," Hicks says.
The new campaign is the second step in an approach the association took last November, when it summoned Star-Telegram arts staff, including former features editor Eric Celeste, now associate editor at the Dallas Observer; theater critic and occasional visual-arts contributor Mark Lowry; and new art critic Andrew Marton to a meeting to discuss visual-arts coverage. One Fort Worth gallery owner says Marton told the assembled, "If you have an artist who's a paraplegic, then you call me." She says Marton seemed to prefer writing human-interest stories over gallery reviews, but another gallerist says he did "not much of either." A flustered Marton did not deny the remark, but said he couldn't comment on the issue and referred Blink to senior features editor Julie Heaberlin, who was out of the office. In Marton's defense, one source at the Fort Worth daily says the new art critic recently spent a month in Japan doing research for a feature on the life and work of Modern Art Museum architect Tadao Ando. Variously described as "arrogant" and "extremely arrogant," Marton, who was lured to the Star-Telegram from Washington, D.C., has seen considerably fewer articles in print so far than predecessor and 13-year-veteran art critic Janet Tyson and her sidekick, freelance gallery-reviewer Suzanne Akhtar. Tyson was fired last August, and Akhtar reportedly quit her Sunday "In the Galleries" feature to make time for a teaching job at Texas Christian University shortly after Marton was hired. Another gallerist quoted a Star-Telegram staffer as saying, "Give us six or seven months, and things may change," citing two problems that half a year could remedy: a tight budget and a search for a new arts editor.
Annabelle Massey Helber
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Critics variously describe Annabelle Massey Helber as "phat" and "extremely phat." E-mail arts news to her at email@example.com.