Yesterday I stepped down as the publisher of Glasstire, nearly 19 years after founding it. I remember the beginning vividly: how it made sense to use a website to knit together this imaginary shape on the surface of the earth we call “Texas.” How I was looking for a name, and the artist who would become my husband called me and simply said “glass tire,” and I knew immediately what he was talking about: the sculptures by Robert Rauschenberg of tires cast in glass. Rauschenberg was from Texas; I drove Texas highways a lot looking at art. Perfect.
I remember the first crummy site I built myself. The earliest articles, written by the artist Bill Davenport. I remember driving around the state, looking at art, talking to people, trying to get this idea off the ground. Eventually we all did (and we became experts on the best truck stops along the way).
One of the challenges with Glasstire has always been that people don’t like it when you talk about art being good or bad. They think such hard absolutes aren’t possible. How dare you say this art is good or bad? What if your bad art is my good art? What the hell do you know, anyway? I always figured there is absolutely, rock solid, good art and bad art — that the minute you start down that slippery slope of subjectivity, where everyone’s opinion about art is equally valid, you may as well throw in the towel.
Now I’m not so certain. We have entered a moment where we seem to be feeling our way in the dark, pricked constantly by a million data points that say TRUTH-TRUTH-TRUTH, even when we know they’re not. The country is in a bad mood, and the territories we find ourselves crossing feel treacherous and uncharted (though they shouldn’t to any student of history).
In the midst of such a sea change, perhaps it’s unwise to cling to certainty about what we understood art was for all these centuries. I for one want to set aside all my received ideas about art, where it should be experienced, and what it looks like when it’s good or bad. Like many before me, I want to forget labels like “painting” and “sculpture.” Forget “performance” and “practice.” I want simply to see things people have created, things made with skill and intelligence and wit and grace. If those things are very special indeed, I know they will stick with me for the rest of my life.
That is what “go see some art” means to me, now as I step away from Glasstire. There are many things I will miss. There are regrets — old articles, juvenilia I’d just as soon take back if I could. But I will take with me the rueful joy and sense of freedom and love for looking at art which has always been the heart of what we do.
So many people helped Glasstire become a reality. I can never thank them all, but I want to mention everyone who has ever served on our board, or bought a ticket to an auction or a lecture, or donated money in any way. One time, many years ago, we were in a tight spot and someone anonymously gave us $15,000. To this day, I still don’t know who that was. Glasstire would not exist today if it weren’t for their generosity.
I want to mention all the staffers and writers who have built Glasstire into what it is, in particular our editors over the years: Rachel Cook, Kelly Klaasmeyer, Bill Davenport and the great Christina Rees (our current Editor-in-Chief). Glasstire only lives because they have breathed life into it.
I want to mention Brandon Zech, who, when I asked him to take over for me as publisher, gamely and courageously agreed to do so. Brandon is a kind and funny person with a very fine mind. We are lucky that he ended up working with us.
Last and most, I want to mention the obvious: the Texas art scene, in all its gory glory. Long before Glasstire existed, countless people dedicated their lives to living here, working here, and making something wonderful. To all the gallerists who make it in that extremely tough business, to all the curators and nonprofit people who do yeoman’s work for (almost always) very little money, and especially, most especially, to the artists themselves, on whose back this entire enterprise it built: Thank You.
I’m going, to see some art.