Here I am, almost completely drenched in sweat, well within hour two of facilitating Friday night’s Philadelphia edition of 2012 U.S. Cities Contemporary Art Rankings: A New Hierarchical Approach, at Practice (the Instagram is courtesy of Kate). It was the funniest, hottest, most thoughtful, well-reasoned, loudest and most enjoyable round of fake sociology I can imagine. And there were more people on the scene then it’d appear here; they were all leaning against the back wall, because no one wanted to sit right up in my gross, sweaty gesticulating.
The final results are here.
There were so many high points, but my favorite moment is perhaps when a young man named Steve was dispatched into the hallway to shout “IF ANYONE HAS ANY STRONG OPINIONS ABOUT ART BASEL, THEY’D BETTER GET IN HERE RIGHT NOW.” A stream of people trickled in, listened to the conversation about whether or not Miami deserves second or third tier status with a look a bemused detachment that slowly transformed into bug-eyed disbelief, and eventually into finger-wagging and shouting.
The final stretch of conversation, regarding Chicago, Los Angeles, Brooklyn and Manhattan were as amusing, fiery and well-spoken as you might imagine.
(There was that guy in the back that kept insisting Bushwick was “over” for reasons I can’t clearly recall, and called for the whole list to be scrapped and started over. And special guest appearances from two of your tumblr heroes, Georges and Cosmopsis!)
Many, many thanks to Practice for making this thing work, and to all the many Philadelphians that burst into the room to shout their opinions of America’s largest cities at me. I loved every second of it.
Some quick notes: they’re surprisingly similar to Minneapolis’ findings from last September. NYC kept its place in the “super-tier,” and L.A. and Chicago retained their positions in the top tier. San Francisco and (surprising to me, at least) Minneapolis remained in the second tier.
Some notable changes: In Philadelphia, Dallas and St. Louis both moved from “secondary regional art centers,” to “major regional art centers.” Asheville, Charleston, Cincinnati, Portland (ME), San Antonio and Savannah all moved up a tier from fifth to fourth.
Denver, Seattle, and Washington, D.C., were downgraded from “major regional art centers” to “secondary regional art centers.” Buffalo, Columbus, Milwaukee, New Haven, and San Diego were demoted to the fifth tier, as well. Charlotte, San Jose, and Santa Fe — all of which had ranked as fourth tier / “secondary national art centers” in Minneapolis — were completely dropped from Philly’s list. I can’t remember why Santa Fe was dropped. That seems weird to me, but I presume we knew what we were talking about.
Most dramatic was Poughkeepsie / Beacon's rise from a no-show on Minneapolis' list to fourth tier status in Philadelphia.
And of course, the biggest change: Miami was demoted to third tier status, while Philadelphia took its place in the ”secondary national art centers” / second tier.
Phew! Next month: to Louisville to present the project once again as part of the Making It: Now exhibition at the Hite Art Institute. After that: to your town!