Artscape: Lori Waxman

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

When writing professionally, Lori Waxman does what most art critics do: She walks through a gallery when it's quiet, takes notes in secret, returns home and e-mails a review to her editor.

To an artist putting work on display, it can seem like a mysterious, often unfair process. So Waxman decided to change everything.

In a traveling performance piece titled "60 Wrd/Min Art Critic," she sets up an office at a local gallery and writes 200-word reviews of whatever comes through the door. All barriers are cast aside, leaving her as vulnerable as those she critiques for The Chicago Tribune, ArtForum and other pubs.

"It's very uncomfortable, actually, but that's part of it," Waxman said Friday at ROY G BIV, the gallery she visited in Columbus. "Critics normally work in a very sequestered, very private, very protected kind of way. You don't even know what they look like."

Waxman was on full display last weekend, working at a desk while artists and staff milled through the Short North gallery. Artists were given the chance to make a short presentation before a review, and Waxman's work was broadcast on a computer monitor as she typed in real time.

Reviews and the pieces will be on display through March 27.

"In this performance, I actually put myself out in public and open it up," Waxman added. "The performance is me sort of challenging myself. Can I take what I give?"

Waxman guarantees thoughtful, though not always positive, reviews. Friday's session included write-ups of sculpture, paintings, drawings, photographs and short videos.

"I find it intellectually interesting," said Kevin Vanscoder, a ROY G BIV volunteer who acted as Waxman's secretary during her Columbus stint. "It's also been really fun. People sitting and nervously waiting - it's like parents waiting for their kids to be born."

Some artists were glued to the monitor, hoping for positive feedback. Others couldn't bear to watch.

"I'm always curious about how people react to my work," said Scott Galloway, a professional artist from Worthington who submitted a digital photo montage for critique. "When you have stuff hanging on a wall, it's kind of detached."

In addition to a rare glimpse into the critic's creative process, many artists were given a professional review to put in their portfolio. That could be a big boost to artists like Clintonville sculptor Joe Mitchell, who's gotten only a few short reviews from community weeklies.

"She gives me some name recognition that I can put into my marketing materials," Mitchell said.

"60 Wrd/Min Art Critic"

When: Through March 27

Where: ROY G BIV Gallery, Short North