Austin has long pouted about its lack of arts coverage (as do many cities), but now Seth Orion Schwaiger of the Austin Chronicle (and Glasstire) really has a beef. He reports that the Austin American-Statesman, the city’s daily paper, is letting go of its full-time arts writer, Jeanne Claire van Ryzin, effective at the end of the year. According to the Statesman, she will be replaced by occasional freelance writers. Schwaiger strongly states:
Unassisted freelancers aren’t likely to replace van Ryzin’s sense of mission. For her, the writing is never about the author – never a platform to air one’s wit, show how cerebral one is, or make grand displays of cultural acumen, as is always the temptation for the freelancer (I admit) – no, for van Ryzin, it’s about opening up the artist’s work for every reader.
Van Ryzin received a bachelor’s from Columbia, a master’s from the University of Texas, and worked at both the Austin Museum of Art (now the Contemporary Austin) and the Ransom Center. She did freelance editing and writing for The New York Times, Art Lies, Art Papers, and the Statesman, among others, in 1997. Two years later, she became the Statesman‘s full-time critic.
The bummer decision of the Statesman may be best summed up by grayDUCK gallerist Jill Schroeder: “The message this sends is that the paper doesn’t regard the arts community as a very important part of the city.”