Last week I published my last posts with WBUR’s ARTery … because after five years I’m leaving the publication.
I want to thank all of you for reading, for making such great art (that I’ve been honored to share), for all your support, for being such an important part of all of this.
It began like this: It was early 2013 and I was on two-weeks leave for the birth of my second child when I got an urgent email from WBUR. I’d been running my own art blog, The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research, for seven years, in addition to writing for The Boston Phoenix and elsewhere. Which led to an invitation that fall to help the Boston public radio station found a new online arts magazine.
We needed a name, urgently, by tomorrow, the email informed me. Because people had come to feel that the (then) working title wasn’t working.
I quickly put together a list of possible names. The third name—but the only one I put in italics, to catch attention—was “Artery.” I’d sussed out that they were keen on having the word “art” in there. It name checked Boston’s Central Artery road. As well as being the heart of things. And it sounded like a cute boutique. It became the name of our new online art publication.
It was a crazy time for me. I was working four jobs (without benefits) and helping parent my little kids and still running The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research and trying to once in a while make my own art.
It was exciting to be part of a start up (another start up). As one of the founding editors of ARTery, I came up with names for all the sections, I wrote, I edited, I photographed, I laid out posts, I promoted our work on social media. I put in more love hours than I’d ever get paid for.
I aimed to make the coverage smart and fun. I hoped to create something that captured the best of what we make around here, whether it appears in fancy museums or in the street (my first article for WBUR, “Nightmare on Bainbridge Street,” was about a local neighborhood going all out for Halloween), and in doing so encourage more of that.
By the third year, though WBUR only ever invited me to work part-time, I was authoring or editing more than half of ARTery’s articles. Which were consistently the most read posts on ARTery. In that one year, for example, I grew our audience by 28 percent.
Over the years, I was lucky enough to report about:
• “The 50 Best Works Of Public Art In Greater Boston, Ranked”
• “Were Those Black ‘Servants’ In Dutch Old Master Paintings Actually Slaves?”
• “An Oral History: How The Honk Music Fest Began Here And Spread Around The World”
• “Under Boston’s Zakim Bridge A Secret, Guerrilla Zen Garden Grows”
• Caribbean Carnival
• Hare Krishna “Festival Of Chariots”
• “How Henryk Ross Risked His Life To Secretly Photograph Life In A Nazi Ghetto”
• “Boston Is A Luxury Utopia That No One Can Afford In Pat Falco’s Satirical Art Show”
• “Play Reimagines India’s Classic ‘Ramayan’ As A Humanistic, Women-Centered Epic”
• “The Mysterious Boulders In Gloucester’s Dogtown Woods”
• “Where To See The Best Christmas Lights Around Boston”
And I was honored to work with amazingly talented folks at WBUR, especially the writers I was privileged to collaborate with as an editor: Amelia Mason (“Speedy Ortiz On The Brink Of Stardom: A Look At How The Boston Band Got There”; “‘I Really Liked To Take Chances’—An Oral History Of T.T. The Bear’s“; “The Hidden Roots Of ‘Hunger Games’ Hit Song? Murder Ballads, Civil Rights Hymns”; “What The Rise And Fall Of Black Leadership In The Music Industry Says About Equality Today”), Dennis Scimeca (“Irrational Games, Whose Games Are So Good People Call Them Art, Plans To Close”); Jim Sullivan (“Peaches: The [Bleep]ing Brilliant, Scandalously Sexual, Feminist Rapper”); Daniel Shea (“Six Unforgettable Shows from Boston’s Music Underground in 2013”); Heather Kapplow (“3S: The Intimate New Music And Art Space That Aims To Put Portsmouth On The Map”); Martín Caballero (interviews Ice Cube: “The Essence And Origin Of Hip-Hop Is To Battle”); Franklin Einspruch (“Coders And Creatives Intersect At MIT’s Hacking Arts”).
In addition to all the journalism, as one of ARTery’s founding editors, I worked to get people paid. When I arrived, the plan was to just pay the founders, but none of the freelance writers. I negotiated for months to successfully get pay for all the freelancers. Over the years, I helped get that pay increased. And I helped turn one of those freelance gigs into an actual part-time job. Part of creating and securing the future of journalism is not just publishing articles but finding ways for people to make a sustainable living at it.
Now it’s time to move on to new things. I’m sticking around Boston. I’ll be continuing to work my other part-time job promoting the great work of the Cambridge Arts Council. (They are pretty great.) I’ll be continuing to create parades and festivals and community art workshops with my sweetheart Kari Percival, our Wonderland Spectacle Co., the amazing Somerville Arts Council, and other friends. And I’ll be continuing to share stories about art and culture around here at Wonderland, my online arts and culture magazine (check out the beautiful new design), and elsewhere. More about all of that in the coming months.
Goodbyes are bittersweet. Thanks to all of you who’ve been part of this particular adventure, to all of you who’ve been so very supportive along the way. It means so much to me. I’m honored to be part of this community that we all create together each day.