At the April 16 meeting of the Visual Art Critics Union of Minnesota (VACUM), the seven attending members voted unanimously to dissolve the organization as of July 10. VACUM’s 38 members were notified of the decision by an e-mail sent to the group’s listserv on April 23 by president Mason Riddle.
The organization was founded in 2002, recalled founder Michael Fallon in a subsequent post to the listserv, as “a banding together and pooling of resources and information that might help foster critical activity in town and act as a representative body for all critics.” VACUM’s achievements have included a collaboration with the Minneapolis Institute of Arts on the “Trialogue” series of conversations among critics, artists, and the public; writing a special section on art (the “VACUM Attachment”) in the Rain Taxi Review of Books; and serving as a nexus of mentoring and social support for local art critics.
“What I recognize now about VACUM,” wrote Fallon, “is it came about during, and contributed to, a golden age of criticism in the Twin Cities.” Noting cutbacks in arts writing across local media, Fallon concluded that “VACUM has proven unsuccessful in the face of all the insurmountable cultural forces chipping away at the perceived need for critical writing.”
The meeting minutes, included in Riddle’s e-mail, reported that members expect to continue to gather at recurring events such as Fallon’s Art Happy Hour and Andy Sturdevant’s Salon/Saloon. “Discussion ended,” read the minutes, “with a round of cheers, a clinking of glasses and self-congratulations on what VACUM has achieved over the years.”
Jay Gabler is the Daily Planet’s arts editor and a member of VACUM.
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