The L’s Paddy Johnson Talks About Her Art Awards Nomination and Predicitons

11/22/2010 3:46 PM |

2010 Art Awards

Last week Rob Pruitt announced the nominees for his second Annual Art Awards, to be handed out at Webster Hall on December 8, including our own Paddy Johnson, founder of the excellent art blog Art Fag City. We asked her a few questions about her nomination, the other nominees, and her surest predictions.

The L: When did you find out that you were nominated in the “Blogger or Critic of the Year” category? Were you given any insight into the nomination process, or who else might have been contending for the four nominations? If you could add a fifth nominee, who would it be?
Paddy: I heard a rumor about it the first week of September, but I didn’t find out until three weeks ago. I found out who the other nominees were when they released the list, though of course, it wasn’t exactly a surprise that Jerry Saltz was nominated in the “Critic of the Year” category, or that Marina Abromovic is nominated in both “Solo Show of the Year, Museum” and “Artist of the Year.” The Guggenheim asks professionals in the field to vote on nominees and winners, so it’s a fairly democratic process as far as I can tell.

If I could add a fifth nominee it would be Roberta Smith. She’s about as establishment as you get, but I think she does a great job and deserves props. Also, William Powhida. He’s an artist of course, but I think he does a fantastic job on Twitter and his blog.

Last year the category was just “Writer of the Year”; do you think the renaming and re-orientation is the result of any fundamental change in art criticism over the last year specifically, or just one of many adjustments required of such a young award ceremony? Do you think there were other factors involved in the renaming?
I think someone at the Guggenheim could probably answer this question better than me, since my thoughts on the matter are purely speculative. I suspect there were just too many bloggers worthy of nomination not to include us.

Last year Jerry Saltz won “Writer of the Year”; doesn’t that mean he can’t win again this year? And doesn’t that mean the award will go to you? Seriously, though, what do you think of your competition? Would you bet against yourself on one of them to win it? Is there one nominee in particular you think has no chance whatsoever?
Ha! Well, Jerry Saltz is definitely the most well known of the four of us, but who can say if he will win. I think we all have a really good chance at it. I’ve been reading Howard Halle for years at Time Out—I think he’s one of the best critics in the city. Linda Yablonsky is a fantastic reporter too—her write up on the Marina Abromovic Artist is Present afterparty at MoMA was brilliant.

How do you feel about the decision to move the event from the Guggenheim to Webster Hall? Is it supposed to make the ceremony seem more “young and hip”? Does it take away from its perceived legitimacy?
I assume the choice was made for economic reasons more than anything else. Ultimately, the event is a fundraiser so I’m guessing they needed more space than the Guggenheim had. I don’t think this takes away from the perceived legitimacy of the ceremony much, since the whole event is somehow supposed to be a simultaneous acceptance and rejection of an award show. Of course, it didn’t even take a year for the art community to shed that idea. I think people take the award seriously even though the field generally is critical of such shows.

What about the other categories? Are there any artists, exhibitions, events or spaces that you feel should be up for an award but were overlooked?
If I had my way there would be a lot more categories. What about best mid-career artist without representation? I think there are a lot of really great artists that fit that bill, and it would be an effective way to combat the uneven influence the market has on the field. I’d also like to so a best -uber-emerging artist category. This year’s nominations for best new artist are all relatively well known. They deserve it, but again, I think there are people without a robust exhibition history that deserve a nod.

Is there any category that you feel you can predict with 100% accuracy and confidence right now?
Yeah. Marina Abramovic’s The Artist is Present for best solo show (museum). I think she’s got that in the bag.