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III JAMES YOOD E ditor 1984–1987 Introduction Oh, the New Art Examiner, I’m all over that, first I wrote for it, then I worked for it, then I edited it, then I wrote for it, then I was on its board of directors, and probably a day still doesn’t pass that I don’t have some cause to think about it. The NAE suited me just fine; if Chicago is the annoying little brother of American culture, contemporary art’s disloyal opposition, not quite in harmony with the dictates and aspirations of our cunning coastal cultural capitals but loud and big and filled with enough talent to assert its incredible independence even if it’s largely ignored by the rest of the contemporary art scene, then I was pleased to work with a magazine that similarly seemed out of tune with the go-along-toget -along realpolitik of American culture, and that always took the “yes, but . . .” position while all the other art mags seemed to march in giddy lockstep. Chicago has always had a bit of chip on its shoulder and so did the NAE. It was a magazine that continually privileged independence over consensus and that challenged authority and power not because of contrariness but because that was where the bodies were buried, where the culture industry made its sausage. In a shorthand manner I’d divide the history of the NAE—only in terms of its relationship to Chicago, mind you; the whole history of the mag would be another story—into three phases. The first would cover 136   T h e E s s e n t i a l N ew A rt E xaminer the foundation and early years of the NAE, when Jane Allen and Derek Guthrie created the context of the magazine and determined its format and the timbre of its voice. The second phase would cover the years after DerekandJanemovedtoD.C.in1980,theyearsoftheChicagoeditorship of Alice Thorson, myself and Jean Fulton, sort of from 1982–1992. And the final phase would be the editorships of Allison Gamble, Ann Wiens and Kathryn Hixson. (I’m already desirous of immediately descending into caveats and counter-arguments. Words such as “editorship” imply a sort of pa- or matriarchal authority or trickle-down control that really didn’t exist—I’ve never worked at a more egalitarian place than the NAE. Everyone had the same base salary, and we each did a bit of everyone else’s job—if you phoned the mag in 1987 because you had a problem with your subscription, I assure you that it’s very likely I answered the phone and took care of it, or at least tried to. Still, the editors did make most of the initial decisions about content, though things often had a way of intriguingly careening out of control. I’ll never forget Derek telling me, “Jim, you offer them [by which he meant writers or invited guests for things such as the Speakeasy or Art Press Review columns] an opportunity and then if they want to hang themselves, it’s their business.”) The editors of this compendium, I’m informed, are including an article I co-wrote with Alice Thorson on the subject of neo-expressionist painting in Chicago in the early 1980s and its relation to some specific aspects of the history of art here. I haven’t read the article since shortly after it was published. Writers, like sharks, must always move forward, and I rarely read pieces I wrote a long time ago. But I remember a great deal about the context of the article, the feel of the time, what Alice and I were trying to explicate. I remember our divvying up aspects of the article, and several afternoons and one long evening when we cobbled the whole thing together. I particularly recall the chart that juxtaposed specific aspects of neo-expressionism and Imagism in Chicago. That was my Wolfflinian bit, borrowed from Frederick Hartt’s survey textbook on Italian Renaissance Art, where he did the same for the Renaissance and Mannerism. Trying to understand what Chicago actually is as an art center, what its place is in contemporary art, what, if anything, makes it distinct from elsewhere, was and still is a bit of a cottage industry for local critics. For most May issues in the 1980s, to run concurrently with Art Chicago, we would invite some respected national voice (Donald Kuspit, Peter Schjeldahl, Eleanor Heartney, etc...


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