As we enter our second month of celebrating the Rail’s fifteenth anniversary, my comrades at HQ and I are filled with profound optimism and joy to be alive. As I write this editorial, I am reminded that it was on this day exactly three years ago (October 29th, 2012), that Superstorm Sandy surged through our studios and galleries, power stations, subway tunnels, and homes. One year later, in the fall of 2013, our exhibition Come Together: Surviving Sandy, propelled the Rail into a new stage of growth: we founded Rail Curatorial Projects and reorganized the Brooklyn Rail’s press into Rail Editions; public poetry readings, panel discussions, and concerts abounded. This past May 2015 we expanded to our second Headquarters at Industry City in Sunset Park, Brooklyn to be near our friends at the Dedalus Foundation, the Bruce High Quality Foundation, Eyebeam, and other artists’ communities. And while rapid and uncontrollable growth of technology permeates the private, empty spaces, more prominence falls to the visual arts, to offer refuge and initiate our personal responses within (or against) machine consumption.
And always we have the agency to ask questions: Can one’s dream as a creative individual be connected to one’s deeper feeling of connection with the great masses of humans now living? Can a commitment to aesthetic views be coalesced with social ideas as a force of good? Recently I have come to relish listening regularly to WNYC’s fantastic programming on my commutes to and from Sunset Park. This past week was their annual fall fundraising drive, and it reminded me of the extent to which all cultural institutions are nourished by their networks of friends and supporters. On January 26th, the Rail’s astonishing art-world community will come together at Pace Gallery for our own celebratory benefit, an occasion that marks an auspicious beginning to our next fifteen years.
Finally, this issue is dedicated to our friends Joyce E. Robinson (1932 – 2015) and John Perreault (1937 – 2015). Joyce was director of the Marie Walsh Sharpe Art Foundation and the driving force behind the Foundation’s Space Program, from which I’ve had the greatest pleasure to work with since I joined the Artist Advisory Committee in 2006. Her flexibility and herculean commitment to the Foundation were legendary. Joyce’s vision inspired both David and Jane Walentas, along with their field marshal Lisa Kim, to combine forces and create the Sharpe-Walentas Studio Program—a perfect combination of a benevolent philanthropist and a cool art institution with the simple aim to support artists. John, whose writings I first discovered in the Village Voice when I came to New York in 1986, eventually appeared in ARTNews and Soho News, and particularly flourished in his advocacy of the Pattern & Decoration movement in the late ’60s and the ’70s; it widened my understanding of and appreciation for its importance. In addition to his instrumental involvement in the birth of the American section of the International Association of Art Critics (AICA-USA), John was a pleasure to spend time with at every board meeting of the Tiffany Foundation and his thoughts on his art blog called Artopia.
Onward in solidarity my friends,
P.S. I’d like to mention a few past and forthcoming Rail events and other events in our city, worthy of note:
The conversation between one of our art managing editors, Charles Schultz, and Nancy Princenthal about Nancy’s compelling biography of Agnes Martin was inspiring. I bought a few volumes to give away to my friends as gifts.
- The performance Lost Edge of a Square/ Dark Corner/ Obscure Corner (based on a transformation of Coin Obscure, a poem by Pierre Reverdy) by Ekmeles Vocal Ensemble, featuring music by Betsy McClevelland, along with readings by Mary Ann Caws and Barry Schwabsky, at Carol Szymanski’s exhibit My Life is an Index at Tanya Grunert (September 12th – October 18th) was brilliant.
- David Hinton’s new and radical translation of the I Ching presented at the Rubin Museum as a dialogue between him and the painter Bill Jensen was a true pleasure.
- The all-day symposium “The Things You Own End Up Owning You: Art in the 1990s” at the University of Michigan with Lane Relyea, Alexandra Schwartz, John Tain, Holly Hughes, Huey Copeland, Eve Sussman, Joan Kee, and Matthew Biro last Saturday on October 24th provided a beautiful chance to meet our future guest critics.
- The discussion between writer Jarrett Earnest and his friend, famed painter Lisa Yuskavage, at Strand Bookstore last Monday, October 26th, was fun and intelligent.
- EJ Hauser’s Amphibian at Regina Rex (October 25 – December 6) that also features a new sign installation on the facade of the gallery by fellow artists Tamara Gonzales and Chris Martin was stunning. How nice to see artist comrades collaborating and supporting each other to make our world interesting and germane!
P.P.S. Our heartfelt congratulations to Katy Rogers and George Wichelms on the birth of their daughter, Sylvia.
Phong H. Bui is the Publisher and Artistic Director of the Brooklyn Rail.