11 days left: Art Practical’s Mail Art

Four years ago, the state of art criticism in the San Francisco Bay Area was dire.

Artweek folded. Shotgun Review and Stretcher were inconsistent volunteer efforts. Alan Bamberger diligently documented openings with minimum critique. A few local critics contributed to national monthlies, but they could anoint only one artist from a rapidly expanding fray.

Artists’ and curators’ best hopes for critical reviews were the local dailies and weeklies. But ambitious exhibitions far outnumbered the paltry column inches.

Enter Art Practical.

Art Practical is a different kind of volunteer effort—one with a professional editorial process and a strict publishing schedule. Posted semi-monthly, each free issue includes in-depth features, contributors’ reviews of local and national exhibitions, as well as shorter Shotgun reviews.

Contributors include current MFAs as well as established curators and critics. Grassroots Bay Area art initiatives can be art-school-partisans, but AP’s contributor base is wide enough to constantly expose me to new artists, spaces, and thinkers. I’m a contributor, so I may be biased, but I think it’s not an overstatement to say that Art Practical has significantly increased quality critical reviews, as well as the diversity of critical voices, in the Bay Area.

Further, Art Practical builds bridges. It started by partnering with Shotgun, Happenstand and Talking Cure Quarterly, and later with Bad at Sports, Daily Serving, KQED Arts and The Bay Citizen, which has a relationship with the New York Times. By multiplying critical outlets, the audience for Bay Area art expands.

For me, Art Practical has become a trusted, central source for staying informed about Bay Area art, in addition to a valuable training camp for advancing my critical thinking and writing. If you can, please consider supporting them. Now, with their new Mail Art Subscription, you’ll receive limited edition art in addition to the satisfaction of supporting this valuable resource.

In conjunction with our 50th issue, “Printed Matter,” Art Practical is producing a Mail Art Subscription [featuring] a piece of correspondence from each of six artists, starting in March 2012. Participating artists include … Martha Rosler, as well as local favorites Anthony Discenza and 2010 SECA awardee Colter Jacobsen.

Subscribers will receive a limited-edition print, a copy of the original Art Practical article, and a return postcard once a month for six months (March to August 2012) for a total of six installments of Mail Art. Subscriptions can be purchased for $150; proceeds from this project will support Art Practical as the publication embarks on its next fifty issues.

To subscribe and for more information, please visit:

The subscription offer closes March 15, 2012.


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