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Don't Count Us Out

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Dear Ms. Levine, Ms. True, Mr. Arden, Mr. Miner, and Ms. Isaacs:

Deanna Isaacs's malicious attempt to paint a bad picture of Thomas Blackman's Art Chicago in the May 11 Culture Club column is fully misleading. In a long conversation I spoke with dirt digger Isaacs about several subjects in an attempt to honestly respond to her inquiries. We discussed why we moved our gallery from Chicago to New York in 1997. We discussed the gallery's viewpoint on art fairs worldwide in general and in relation to our needs and resources specifically. My first reprinted statement was in answer to why we moved the gallery in 1997a very different time in the economy and art marketand the need to expand our constituency. It had nothing to do with Art Chicago, in which we continued to participate for the next two years, and to which we hope to return. Likewise, the second reprinted statement was to simply say that after so many years of doing the same fair we needed to also develop interests elsewhere, and with our limited resources we can only do so much each year. However, that these remarks were condensed and contextualized under the disparaging rubric of "Count Them Out" and an incorrect implication that it had anything to do with the current strength and quality of Art Chicago is very shallow journalism. Perhaps Ms. Isaacs's appetite for investigative reporting would be put to better use in some kind of gossip columnyou know, like who was seen at what restaurant, etc.

In my conversation with Ms. Isaacs I emphasized how Art Chicago was one of the world's largest and top contemporary art fairs. It has long served as a model for other art fairs, and even the founders and organizers of the new art fair in New York look forward to participating in Art Chicago, as well as committee members from the Basel art fair and others. For Ms. Isaacs to think that with over 200 participating galleries it is not the normal (if not preferred) course of things for some galleries to rotate in their participation is to show her limited understanding of the nature of art fairs and the art business. Why would anyone necessarily want the exact same 200 galleries each year, for example? Over the years there are many galleries that have taken leave from Art Chicago at one time or another, often to be welcomed back. Moreover, there is the excitement of many first time participants. It shows Ms. Isaacs's and the Chicago Reader's provincial shortsightedness to focus on two galleries not doing the fair this year solely because they were formerly in Chicago.

I think someone from the Chicago Reader has called us every year for the past four years to write about why we left Chicago, etc. We probably got more press for leaving Chicago than we ever did while we were doing good things in Chicago. The truth be told (other than the New Art Examiner) such a severe lack of interesting art reporting (yes, on the part of the Chicago Reader very much included) was one of the key factors in our decision to move from Chicago. Wouldn't it be more interesting, more newsworthy, and more productive for you to address all of the exciting galleries who are participating in Art Chicago, and the wonderful artists and galleries in Chicago? It seems you don't fully understand how critically important and unique Art Chicago is, and how much it contributes to Chicago's international cultural status. With such a useless and misconstrued negative perspective we count the Chicago Reader out in regard to appreciating a good picture when you see one.

Sincerely yours,

Lance Kinz

Director

Feigen Contemporary

Copy: Thomas Blackman

Curt Alan Conklin

Christopher Vroom

Deanna "Dirt Digger" Isaacs replies:

I quoted Mr. Kinz as follows:"I'm sure we'll come back, but we can only do so much at one time."

Fred Camper replies:

Feigen may have been mentioned lots since departing, but in the four years before it moved, artists showing at Feigen were the subject of at least seven lengthy reviews and at least five profiles by me alone.

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