In trying to write Culture Shock for this week, I’ve felt like J. Alfred Prufrock: “Then how should I begin ... and how should I presume.” In most respects, I think I’m a bit more realized and less fearful than T.S. Eliot’s cautionary creation, but these lines kept coming back to me as I started to write this, my final column as arts and literature editor.
The tradition here has been for the outgoing arts editor to use this space as a way to say final goodbyes and thank yous. And that’s great, but there’s the potential for the exercise to devolve into indulgency, an Oscar speech filled with insides and bad jokes about agents. Which is a metaphor, as I don’t have an agent. Why, are you offering?
Not that I’m against a first-person narrative, but usually when I’ve employed it, it’s for the sake of something larger and more important than myself, like a joke. What I’ve tried to do since taking over the arts desk in late 2008 is to provide arts coverage, and especially arts criticism, that’s reasoned, thoughtful and objective—subsuming the individual tastes of the reviewer in order to discuss art in substantive ways. And so the idea of introducing myself, my real self, into the mix has run counter to my intentions for the arts section of the Alibi. But now I’m leaving, so let’s burn it down.
Oh—actually it turns out that, while I’m working in my new gig as a full-time member of the English faculty at CNM, I’ll still be writing reviews, so let’s just put that bridge-burning aside for now. Instead, let’s look to the future, in particular, the Alibi’s new arts and lit editor, Patricia Sauthoff, formerly the arts and culture editor at the Santa Fe Reporter. When I told my best friend that this morning, she said, “Awesome! It’ll be in great hands.” Then I gave her a look that implied there wasn’t enough praise of me in that comment, so she amended it, saying, “Good hands. You’ve got great hands; she has good hands. Please don’t hit me.”
But my friend was right the first time. Patricia brings experience, enthusiasm and a singular voice to this position, and I’m excited to see where Alibi arts goes next. It’s in amazing hands.
Thank you to all of my colleagues at the paper and to the arts community of Albuquerque. I am sincerely grateful for the opportunity to have engaged local art in a way that few people get to do, and because of it, I’ve developed as a writer, an educator and an artist. There’s an unbelievable wealth of talent in this town, and I thank you for letting me be a part of it, with almost no retribution.