August 31, 2013

Letters to the editor: Thoughtful review informs artist, readers

I'd like to address Albert H. Black's letter ("Art reviewer shares blame for expecting explanations," Aug. 25) commenting on Daniel Kany's art review of David Driskell's work.

click image to enlarge

Daniel Kany’s critique of “Sleeping Angel,” above, and other paintings by David Driskell is an example of “constructive and honest” reviewing that encourages art appreciation, a reader says.

Image courtesy of Greenhut Galleries

From an artist's standpoint, I must defend Mr. Kany. The art critic has, in the past, wielded huge power in making or breaking careers. Clement Greenberg was the premier critic from the late '30s to the '50s.

That kind of godlike posturing has thankfully been replaced with thoughtful, constructive and honest reviewing, such as New York magazine's Jerry Saltz, who was fearless in his reviews.

Mr. Kany likewise offers a subjective and educated opinion, one with which you may or may not agree.

After reading his Aug. 18 review, I learned some facts about the background of Driskell. I may have a completely different reaction to the paintings than Mr. Kany; however, it made me think about the work in terms of the artist's historical influences.

Every art student has faced the dreaded "critique." It is there that we learn to listen to very subjective yet constructive advice.

We may not agree with it, but it affords us an avenue by which we can move our work forward and improve. This is especially true for "blossoming professional" artists whose works are reviewed by critics.

Mr. Black, in suggesting "leaving it to the eyes of the beholder," misses the opportunity for the viewer to hear other opinions. Yes, go look at as much art as you can, but also be open to all opinions. Information from many sources will only help us appreciate art in a more thoughtful way.

Lin White


Casino proposals would level playing field for the Downs

The Downs respects the views of residents opposed to gaming, including betting on horse racing. I did, however, want to correct a misstatement in a letter from Suzanne Foley-Ferguson ("Scarborough could lose say over casino on Downs land," Aug. 27).

The Downs has not proposed any recent legislation that would allow expanded gaming without a local referendum. The Downs believes that a local referendum is essential before gaming should be allowed, either at our current location or if we are able to move to another city, such as Biddeford.

The zoning ordinance that the Town Council passed and state law expressly require a local referendum and would require the track to reach a revenue-sharing agreement with the council. The Downs supports both requirements.

The bills the Downs has proposed to the Legislature would only correct unfair provisions that were drafted to give an unfair advantage to Maine's existing casinos.

Those fine-print provisions prohibit the Downs from moving more than five miles (i.e., to Biddeford); require its local referendum to have been completed by December 2003, and prohibit the Downs from operating within 100 miles of the casino in Oxford.

Horsemen and track employees work hard to earn their living, but they are being asked to fight an uneven battle against casino operators. Scarborough Downs is asking for a level playing field that will allow it to compete against casino gaming.

We realize that some people don't support gaming, and we very much respect their opinion on this issue. Casino gaming has now arrived in Maine (at multiple locations), and if harness racing is to survive, a racino is needed at Maine's largest commercial track, located in a community that desires its economic benefits.

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