Wednesday, August 18, 2004

The Biggest Art News in the Mayor of San Francisco

When I opened up the Globe to The Living Arts Section of the Boston Globe this past Tuesday, I was immediately curious as to what the large , above-the-fold picture and headline was all about. I was instantly feeling a bit of jealousy toward the local artist that had scored this unprecedented feature treatment. Was it about the new Actors Shakespeare Project? Mmmm. The gentleman in the photo didn't look like Ben Evett, or John Kuntz who will be playing Richard the II in their first production.

Unfolding the paper I saw 3 more color photos accompanying the article on that page. My heart sank a little bit as I realized that the Living/Arts section had been commandeered for neither Living nor Arts news, but instead was a massive article about Gavin Newsome, the celebrated Mayor of San Fransisco. Turning the pages I found that another whole half page was devoted to Mr. Newsome along with two more black and white photos, one of them reprinted from another magazine. I read the article, which was so substantial I felt as if I was reading the New York Review of Books.

In fact, the only thing getting in the way of the Newsome article taking over the whole section was one of the more thoughtful reviews Ed Seigel has written in a while. He compared Rondstadt's Cyrano De Bergerac to Checkov, using the productions at Barrington Stage and Williamstown respectively. (However, Mr Siegel could not resist his nice plug for the A.R.T.'s production of Uncle Vanya in 2002.)

Now, Gavin Newsome is news, I understand that. And I also agree with his statement that his actions this past year will end up on the right side of history. And, if I wanted to stretch for reasons for his inclusion in the Living Arts section I could maybe make a case for the act of his marrying of same sex couples being the ultimate performance art.

However, when was the last time a local arts group or artist received four color and two black and white photos and such an overwhelmingly positive story.

Banging the drum of more local arts coverage feels more and more like beating the dead horse, and I have to say that things have changed for the better. But, man we have got to break through at some point.

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