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Big Red & Shiny Turns 10: Part 2

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Born out of a conversation in 2002 between an SMFA graduate student (Sean Horton) and instructor (Matthew Nash) about the viability of bringing arts coverage in Boston to the web, Big Red & Shiny has since been a labor of love for all of those involved. Officially launched in February 2004 when blogging was still in its infancy, Big Red & Shiny went on to publish 135 issues of interviews, essays, and reflections by pooling the efforts of motivated local artists and writers. In August 2010 Big Red & Shiny went on an indefinite hiatus until, under a serendipitous set of circumstances, it returned under a new editorial staff in September 2012. From the start, Big Red & Shiny has always been an evolving and changing project—a home to many voices—stretching to reflect the needs of our community. Without all the hard work that the founding editors and writers put into that little pink website, we wouldn't have the name and range to document the artistic practices occurring within our borders; without the continuous community support, we doubt we would have made it to mark this exciting occasion. We hope, in the years to come, to continue to speak honestly about what is happening in our region, and make the arts in Boston a topic of discussion around the world.

Looking back over the 135 issues in our archive and the hundreds of essays and articles we've posted since our relaunch it's always hard to pick out favorites. Therefore we figured the best way to mark today, our 10-year anniversary, was to delve into our numbers and find what you, the audience, have deemed interesting and exciting reads. So without further ado, here is the second half of our 10 most popular essays, articles, and interviews from the last 10 years.

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C, 2007
Oil on canvas
45 x 39 inches
Collection of Gary and Deborah Lucidon
Photo: John Berens

5. Amy Sillman: one lump or two by Leah Triplett
October 3, 2013
I could have written at least a couple reviews of Amy Sillman: one lump or two when it was up this fall at the ICA (it opens today at the Aspen Art Museum). Duality, diagramming and digital gestures are just some of the themes that this show approaches. Though I grounded this review in a discussion of Sillman's confrontation of contemporary art practices from the 1950s until today, I would have loved to talk about each of the varied concepts and conceits that Sillman confronts in her practice.

4. Pawn Brokers for the Art World by Daniel Grant
July 13, 2008

Yuppie Pawn Shop, in Washington State, was a pawn broker marketing itself to more upscale clientele.

In this piece from 2008, Daniel Grant, author of The Business of Being an Artist, provides a window into the small world of high-end pawnbroking through the eyes of Yossi Dina, the self-proclaimed "pawnbroker to the stars." The Dina Collection, of Yossi's namesake, is a Beverly Hills-based pawn shop that specializes in the fine arts. "Dina," Grant writes, "noted that one of the artworks he has in his shop is a painting that he quickly determined by looking through auction records had a fair market value of $10 million. He loaned its owner $1 million. 'The state doesn’t tell me how much I have to pay people,' he said. 'There is no logic to my business.' . . . Dina wastes no time selling unretrieved artwork, as well as other art he purchases from estate and bankruptcy sales ('Every day I get a deal') — the artwork (Impressionism, Modern and contemporary art, with an occasional Old Master) forms The Dina Collection. 'I sold more art last year than most galleries,' he boasted, crediting his success to being able to underprice mainstream commercial galleries."

Boston City Hall

3. Reviled Architecture: The Buildings we love to hate by Brian Sirman
October 15, 2012
How we spend our days is how we spend our lives, and the buildings that we live, work and play in make up our experience of that life. Here, Brian Sirman authoritatively explains why certain buildings illicit certain strong feelings, such as hate. Focusing on Boston's City Hall (which Mayor Walsh vowed to demolish during his campaign), Sirman argues that "society would do well to avoid any rash decisions and to foster a deliberate, informed critical dialogue that moves beyond promulgating fleeting biases and derogatory hype."

2. A Golden Balm: How Art can Surprise, Delight and Heal by Stephanie Cardon
April 20, 2013

Video by Ryan Dight

Our Editor Stephanie Cardon best sums up this piece in her first paragraph writing, "In spite of the crystalline air and brilliant sunshine, [the]morning [of April 15]was dark for Bostonians near and far. Following the marathon bombings, the entire city echoed with sobriety, anger, and sadness. Yet, serendipitously, it was on this day that Leah Medin poured a sheet of gold, soft as a caress and reaffirming as a cheer, onto many wounded hearts. Her gesture was simple, but took months of planning and painstaking work. While carefully conceived, her sculpture unintentionally came to represent the soaring expression of spirit many of us so desperately needed to find that very day."

A crowd outside the former MEME Gallery (now Mobius) in Central Square, Cambridge

1. How to Start and Run an Alternative Gallery Space by Matt Nash
November 3, 2009
It feels entirely fitting to top this list with Big Red & Shiny co-founder and long-time publisher Matt Nash. Similarly, the moment in time framing this piece, originally written in November 2009, appears to have cycled back into consideration. While the title may best summarize this article, we feel the best takeaway is the following in which Matt writes, "Edward Winkleman begins his book How To Start And Run A Commercial Art Gallery with some advice he received from a friend:

'What is an art gallery?' he continued. 'It's a space with art on the walls. If you want to open an art gallery, get a space and put art on the walls.'

'Wait...er...it's not that simple,' I insisted.

'Yes it is,' he insisted. 'It's exactly that simple. Get a space, put art on the walls, and you will have an art gallery.'"

Of course, Winkleman and Matt then go on to explain that actually keeping the gallery open is hard part. Nevertheless, sage advice and certainly worth a revisit.


For more writing by each of the aforementioned writers, please click their following names: Matt Nash, Stephanie Cardon, Brian Sirman, Daniel Grant, Leah Triplett


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About Author

Brian is an artist, educator and Boston-native and is the Managing Editor of BR&S, coordinating the editorial activities of the publication. He has a BFA from Tulane University in New Orleans and his MFA in Sculpture from MassArt. Brian is also an Assistant Lecturer and the Instructional Media Specialist for the Sculpture and Digital Media disciplines at the University of Massachusetts Boston.

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