From the Editor
by Claire Ruud
I find it difficult to write this, my final letter from the editor. Most of all, I want to express how much I’ve appreciated the writers, artists and curators with whom I’ve worked, the readers who’ve read …might be good and the visitors who’ve come to testsite. Collectively, you have taught me a tremendous amount about how to participate in an emerging scene like Austin’s. The reflections that follow condense the wisdom of my peers into a few concise points. It’s nothing new to you; you are the ones who’ve modeled these ideas for me over the past four years. They bear repeating not as prescriptive advice, but rather as a reflection of this community at its best. I’ve been deeply shaped by you, and these are the practices, attitudes and strategies I’ve learned here that I want to take with me now.
(1) Be Relevant
Understand the art scene close to home—both the work being made and the institutional models being used—in relationship to the larger art world. Yes, this includes New York and L.A., but also cities more like ours whose models may be more productively translated into our own community.
(2) Be Irrelevant
Do something to stretch your mind outside the same-old-same-old art world conversations. Read history books, poems, or graphic novels. Become an expert on horror films from the former Soviet-bloc. Spend a lot of time in antique stores in the middle of nowhere.
(3) Find a Mentor
My working and personal relationship with the director of Fluent~Collaborative, Laurence Miller, has probably been the single largest factor in my growth as a curator and arts administrator. Find someone.
(4) Be Critical
Self-criticality and critical thinking (not negative, but challenging) about art work and art institutions are essential to change and growth.
(5) Be a Mentor
The fact is many of us will have to leave Austin for jobs eventually. Once you’ve been here for at least two years, you know the ropes much better than the new arrivals. Find someone who’s just arrived (and thus has a good chance of having a longer shelf-life here than you do, and who will be taking up the mantel as one of the long-timers when you leave), and share your experience and knowledge of the history, institutions, successes and failures with them.
(6) Be There
Be at openings. If you didn’t go to the opening (or if you didn’t really see the work at the opening), go back for open hours.
(7) Be Organized
Whether short-lived or long-lived, the meetings of peers in which I’ve been involved have been the most energizing activities in which I’ve been engaged. Start a reading group, or a research cluster on a topic of mutual interest or a crit group. Getting together to shoot the shit is important, too, but what I’m talking about here is being invested in one another’s intellectual transformation.
(8) Be Collaborative
Easier said than done, I know. However, no institution can be truly vibrant in a vacuum all its own. The success and sustainability of every artist-run space, every commercial gallery and every museum depends on the success of all of them.
These are the things I want to take with me. It is this experience here in Austin that has led me to the next stage of my own journey: business school. This step could be the subject of its own essay, one I’ll be better prepared to write after I take the plunge in August. More importantly now, …might be good is about to enter a new phase, too. After a month’s hiatus, the journal will return early this fall under the leadership of a new editor. It’s exciting to bring a new voice and vision to the magazine, and can’t wait to see where it goes. testsite, too, will continue under the guidance of Laurence Miller and Mike Chesser. The current show, Michael Krumenacker’s Your Hair Is Mine, will remain up through August, followed by an exhibition of drawings by Mary Walling Blackburn in September and testsite 10.2: Roberto Tejada & Rob Verf in November—an outstanding line-up.
In closing, I want to reiterate my appreciation for the writers, readers and artists who have contributed to …might be good, testsite and Austin at large during my time here. I can’t say it enough: thank you. You made my time here a pleasure.
Claire Ruud is Associate Director Emeritus of Fluent~Collaborative.
In lieu of Claire's departure, please also read, A Letter From the Director