An Arts Journal for the Rest of Us

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The jargon of art criticism – with its fuzziness of both thought and expression – has always driven me crazy! That’s why I was so delighted to discover American Arts Quarterly. This digest-sized journal is a rare treasure because it discusses contemporary art, architecture, and culture in language that is lucid, rational, and entirely comprehensible. And it is built on the principle of the unity of all the arts; the editors cover architecture with the same passion and intensity as painting and sculpture.

I suspect others share my frustration with the standard vocabulary of art criticism. Most commentators on modern art write in an arcane babble of polysyllabic abstractions that -- in many cases – merely disguises a lack of clear thinking. How many times have you gone to an art exhibit that left you bewildered – and then read a review of that same show in language so opaque that it only added to your bewilderment?

I’m happy to report that American Arts Quarterly avoids the cult of “art speak.” Rather – and most refreshingly -- its editors and writers strive for precision of thought and language. The journal is a publication of the Newington-Cropsey Cultural Studies Center, and it reflects the center’s mission of reuniting the artist with society. It views the arts not as the sole province of an elite few who must be initiated into the sacred rites. Rather, through its journal, Newington-Cropsey encourages traditional and classical forms in all disciplines – because these are the forms that communicate best to society at large.

The editors are quite fearless about dealing with such “old-fashioned” concepts as the importance of Beauty, Virtue, and Spirituality to contemporary life and how these values are transmitted through traditional realism and figurative art. For instance, they’ve given significant coverage to the art of Jacob Collins and the pioneering work he has underway with the Grand Central Academy of Art.

More surprising to some might be the space they’ve devoted to traditional and classical architecture. For example, they published Steve Semes’s brilliant essay exposing the fallacies behind the “of our time” modernist arguments that are embedded in the Secretary of Interior’s Guidelines for Rehabilitation.

They have also published other articles on architectural theory by writers well known to the readers of Traditional Building, including Carroll Westfall and Steven Bass. And they did a detailed review of Millennium Gate, the monumental arch in Atlanta, GA, that was conceived and seen through to completion by Rodney Mims Cook, Jr.

Amazingly, one-year subscriptions to American Arts Quarterly are free to artists, scholars, and qualified professionals – the subscriptions being underwritten as part of the mission of the Newington-Cropsey Foundation. To apply for a complimentary one-year subscription, send your request to aaq@nccsc.net. Once your subscription starts, you’ll be as excited about the postman’s arrival as I am.