I’ve attempted to emulate Willem de Kooning, whose retrospective remains at MoMA until January 9, 2012, in many respects. In doing so, I’ve learned that one of his most remarkable attributes is his complete trust in his own anxiety, his confidence that the collision of his intense curiosity about the past and his strong desire to be relevant in the present would result in the spark of energy required to feed his growth as an artist.
Not long ago I gave a talk at a college, and during the Q-and-A someone from the audience stood up and asked, “How do you become successful in New York?” Feeling a bit irritated, nevertheless, I said in response, “What I have always tried to do is think in ways that allow me to become an interesting person, like how I am always attracted to inner-resting [Delmore Schwartz’s pronunciation] people. Whatever else follows is a matter of luck.” Only then did I realize how similar my response was to one of de Kooning’s many cryptic pieces of verbal gymnastics: “For milk to become yogurt, it needs culture.” The culture that my colleagues and I have been cultivating for the last 11 years is the culture of the Rail, which has generously fed seven to nine thousand readers daily on our website, not to mention 15 to 20,000 printed rags a month. (Our readership has steadily increased in the last four years.)
None of this growth would ever have happened if it hadn’t been, first of all, for Rose D’Amora, our Manager par excellence, who has proven herself more than capable of steering the ship, while spreading good communal spirit along the way. I also wish to extend thanks to Walter Chiu, our brilliant Art Director and his equally imaginative teammate, Kayley Hoffman, our brainy Distribution Manager Cy Morgan, our spirited Webmaster Don Leistman, and David Giglio and Julie Evanoff for their technical guidance. Our current production line up is among our most exceptional: the personal alchemies of Anny Oberlink, Joe Klarl, Jordyn Ostroff, Marissa Havers, Carolyn Bergonzo, Maggie Barrett, Desi Gonzalez, Zack Garlitos and Marie-Louise Kirkelund harmonize with those of our seasoned veterans such as Liz Byer, Laura Hunt, Ashley Brooke Roberts, Spencer Woodman, Linnea Kniaz, Heidi Howard, Lucy Cottrell, Allison Finkel, and Maxwell Heller. The arrival of Jarrett Earnest has also enlivened the headquarters’ ambience. I must also commend Jonathan T. D. Neil for his editorial work on the Al Held Critical Essays Series; the dynamic duo of Ben Gottlieb and Greg Lindquist for their shared editorship of the Art Books in Review section; and Leo Goldsmith and Rachael A. Rakes for making the Film section so enticing. Lastly, I thank the rest of our comrades for their continued care of the Rail culture.
Above all, I would like to thank the reliable community of artists and writers, whose works inspire what we do, the foundations, individuals, and in-kind contributors who have invested in our collective from the outset, each of our board of directors and advisory board members whose strength and wisdom have been indispensible to our growth. I also would like to thank all of you, our readers and supporters. Without you we have no culture.
Phong Bui and the Brooklyn Rail