and/or

Erik ReeL painting
Erik ReeL, opus 2091, acrylic, 2015

Q: After you graduated from the University of Washington, you gravitated toward the and/or alternative space and did something there with their publications?

ReeL: It was close to where I lived and I could walk over there and use their library. I began helping out with their mailings,  but eventually ended up re-designing their calendar and their mailing publication, the and/or Notes. I even attended their staff meetings for a couple of years, though I was never on staff. Just helping out. It was a great group of people.

Q: But didn’t the Notes start publishing art criticism under your direction?

ReeL: Yes. There was  a natural evolution. The entire and/or staff was interested in getting better art writing injected into the scene, and there was a small community, most of whom had met each other at and/or events or in its library  who had problems with the level of published art discourse in Seattle at the time.  The critic at the main daily paper was terrible, but there were two critics already working who had potential, but were often constrained by their editors. Someone had to help open things up.

One of the people who was a driver for some new momentum, but not directly connected to and/or was the writer, Jae Carlsson, who I first met in the and/or library.

So the first thing the and/or staff did  was allow more discursive writing into the Notes itself. We were trying to promote a forum for developing alternative voices as well as the art exhibited.

Soon after this and/or invited Peter Frank and Edit Deak out to do a workshop on art criticism. Frank was running a publishing project in Chicago at the time that was getting a lot of attention, and Deak was at Art Forum and had just published the first piece in America on Francesco Clemente.  Deak later moved on to Vanity Fair and drifted out of art writing altogether.

It was a great workshop, Jae and myself and the and/or staff wanted to continue the momentum from the workshop. That led to the founding of the Seattle Art Writing or SAW group.

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