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Snobby New York Art Critic Scowls on St. Louis; Taxpayer-Funded Trip Wasn't Good Enough

Categories: Arts

leonard_pinth.jpg
Image via Vimeo
We imagine Michael Wilson as Dan Aykroyd's "bad art" critic, Leonard Pinth-Garnell.
Close your eyes for a moment and picture the snobbiest art critic possible. Got it? Good. Now somehow make that person ten times douchier than you imagined, and you still won't arrive at anyone quite as pretentious as Michael Wilson.

A freelance art critic from New York, Wilson hires himself out -- according to his website -- for "appropriate writing and editing projects." And last month Wilson must have thought he landed just such an assignment when the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission paid to bring him to town to witness the city's art scene and the unveiling of the new wing of the Saint Louis Art Museum.

The trip, Wilson will have you know, disappointed.

See also:
-Top 10 Reasons Transplants Criticize St. Louis
- Rebuttal: 10 Reasons St. Louis Hates Outsiders

"Ah, the regional junket," Wilson merrily begins his review of St. Louis art and culture for Artforum magazine. "The prospect -- free room and board for a couple of nights in a novel location, a spot of local sightseeing (art-world and otherwise), an exhibition or opening or event devoid of the usual suspects -- is always so appealing. And yet..."

So, what are Wilson's complaints about his free trip ($317 in airfare and $218 in hotel expenses) courtesy of the tax-supported CVC? We've boiled them down to the following six gripes:

1. The weather.

thunderstorm2.jpg
Lars Kapser on Flickr
Wilson's initial flight to St. Louis got canceled because of thunderstorms, which totally "scuppered" his privilege of being wined and dined. He writes:
"A tidy plan to leave New York just before Friday teatime and arrive in Saint Louis for early evening cocktails at Laumeier Sculpture Park was scuppered by wild weather that necessitated a later departure and a frantic transfer in Dallas. Landing closer to midnight, I found my driver, headed for the hotel, checked in, and checked out."

2. The Cheshire will not do for Michael Wilson.
cheshire_swimming_pool.jpg
The courtyard pool at the newly renovated Cheshire | RFT photo
So, what did Wilson think of The Cheshire, where the CVC paid $109 per night to house him for two days?

Not much. In his review for Artforum, he faults the hotel for the tiniest of grammatical errors found in its brochure and suggests the newly remodeled lodge is slightly better than a flophouse. He writes:

"Dodgy grammar and ill-advised nomenclature notwithstanding, the mock-Tudor facility had apparently been designated officially historic, a reward for having survived unnumbered stag parties and family getaways since as far back as the mid-1950s."

OK, well, surely his trip will get better, right?

Wrong.

Continue for Wilson's thoughts regarding other St. Louis institutions. Spoiler alert: He is not impressed.

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87 comments
Bob Mitchell
Bob Mitchell

BS, especially the part about the hotel. STL has hotels that run the gambit from flop house to 4 star. It's not StL's fault if his talents only demanded a $109 per night!

Dan Sterkin
Dan Sterkin

Except for the part about the Botanical Gardens, I'd have to agree with his conclusions.

Susie Nicholson
Susie Nicholson

What a dick. I traveled from L.A. to St. Louis for two weeks this summer. It is a fabulous place for art, music and food!

Tim Smythe
Tim Smythe

Critiquing the kettle black RFT?

JamesMadison
JamesMadison topcommenter

Critics criticize. Only an idiot would think a NYC art critic would fall in love with STL in a few days. He was probably disappointed you didn't drag him up the arch or visit the Dog Museum. Whoever invited him should be fired for not reading his previous columns. A free-lance art critic? LMFAO! Please. Why do people hire him? Just stop wasting tax payer money on things government has no business doing. Here's a novel idea - let the Saint Louis art speaks for Saint Louis art. Time to clean the government rolls of people making horrible decisions about things that never ought ot be part of the government. If the Art Community wants to promote itself, it will. No need for government to do so.

Didn't this art critic love the Sera Sculpture? More tax payer money flushed. Commercial ventures ought not be tax supported. Free economy.

Susan Moroney-Peterson
Susan Moroney-Peterson

Yes, because all NY'ers/east coasters use the word "scuppered" and talk about "teatime". Do you really think this guy would be happy anywhere? Don't be so sensitive.

David J. McCutcheon
David J. McCutcheon

As a writer and editor, you blast all stories numerous times unless you're working at CNN, where you have too many restraints on content to do such. It's maximizing traffic.

wonderdude
wonderdude

Rather than an art critic, I guess the CVC should have invested in an arts & entertainment writer. You know, like someone who knows where their bread is buttered. For the $500+ spent, we should have expected a polite and respectful puff piece, spuzzing about every "undiscovered" culture-related gem in The Lou, right? 

Lighten up folks, Wilson's trip review isn't that negative. IMO, the RFT is picking at wounded civic pride to pump up readership. Seems to work quite well, in a train-wreck sort of way. I was entertained by this RFT article, and it kinda reminded me of "Waiting For Guffman."

Sharon Walker
Sharon Walker

His first stop should have to a hair salon. I would be mad at the world if my hair looked like that too.

Jesda Ulati
Jesda Ulati

RFT reposts a lot of its stories to get more web traffic. It's not just this story but several others as well.

Trent Bronson
Trent Bronson

He really must have put a burr under your saddle for you to repost this story again. Him 1, RFT 0

Meredith Gabbert
Meredith Gabbert

I can't believe they would bring HIM back. Why not give someone else a chance to voice their opinion about STL, instead of giving this guy another opportunity to sh*t on us again? I bet if he was wined, dined, and escorted to the very snootiest places we have to offer, it still wouldn't be good enough for him. D-bag for sure.

John Null
John Null

Well, he's from New York, so there's the end of that.

Karma Starshine Brightly
Karma Starshine Brightly

Douche was the first word that popped into my head. But frankly, that's too classy of a word for him. This coming from someone from here and is cornfed and deep fried.

Julia Maupin
Julia Maupin

Imma class up STL by saying this: you should of given him some wine with that dick cheese he is spouting out.

Gretchen Collard Wolf-Yahnig
Gretchen Collard Wolf-Yahnig

What a dbag....interesting he only seemed interested in stargazing while at the addition.....says volumes about him, does it not?

Sharon Walker
Sharon Walker

I didn't lose anything in NY. I won't be going there anytime soon. I love St. Louis.

Jillian Ashley
Jillian Ashley

The weather in St. Louis is terrible. You can't blame him for complaining about that. + a free trip should have no impact on the quality of the review. + Poorly planned itinerary and mediocre hotel accommodations for a man whose perspective costs taxpayers $. For shame. If thy weren't going to do it right, don't do it at all. Weather, scheduling of events all need to be taken into consideration.

Ben Fine
Ben Fine

Haha..ya I lived in LA for 3 years and couldn't deal w/ the traffic anymore. I totally see where you're coming from w/ the white trash and I look down on it all the time but you're better off spending time in clayton..cwe..loop..ppl there are much more sophisticated

Chester Angel
Chester Angel

Free. Comfortable. Inexpensive. Exactly what I'm talking about. Mediocre living for the mediocre minded. It's not for everyone...just the terminally average.

Cathy Brinkley Bailey
Cathy Brinkley Bailey

That is the truth Sharon. I have lived and vacationed on the east coast and would much rather live here, where I can visit my free zoo, free museums, free science center, and live comfortably on a fraction of what it would cost to live in NY.

Nikita Sparkle LeeBomb
Nikita Sparkle LeeBomb

Im just sayin, almost everyone Ive had from out of state come here, has Always took notice in how polite and nice the people are :)

Chester Angel
Chester Angel

Ha! Good one! Traffic in LA blows...I guess everywhere has it's problems. It's just the problems here gouge a bit deeper. At least for me they do...

Ben Fine
Ben Fine

shouldn't you be sitting in traffic right now?

Thee Lovingcup
Thee Lovingcup

Outsiders love StL and the state of Missouri. Ever been floating on Ozark National Scenic Riverways? Ever been to a Cardinals game at Busch Stadium? Ever been to a Zoo and Art Museum in the same days for free? Ever heard of City Museum? Ever drank a 100 rate craft beer aged in rye whiskey barrels? Ever been to a National Park on Mississippi River under a huge Arch for 4th of July? .... should I go on? I haven't even mentioned Cahokia Mounds just across the river, or Grant's Farm, or Jefferson Barracks, or The Fox, Powell Hall, Peabody Opera House (Kiel Opera House), The Muny, Tower Grove Park, Forest Park (bigger than Central Park), Food Trucks.... yea, I travel too. StL is second to none.

Chester Angel
Chester Angel

Nice Venice Beach CA cover photo btw...Ya So Cal sucks. You're right. Born in East LA grew up on the west side (as in Venice). You should have a cover photo of the arch or cheap cigs or something shouldn't you?

Scott Calhoun
Scott Calhoun

ROFL... Yea Chester, because your hometown of East LA is sooo fuckin perfect!!! HAHAHA, Go home gangbanger... STL doesnt want you here anyway

Chester Angel
Chester Angel

The old "at least we got Cardinals baseball" argument...sad. Just plain sad. Are you trying to convince us or yourself? Did you know that when you live in a real city with real things to do you don't even consider baseball? St Louis isn't "competing" with any real cities. It's the best city in MO. I would give it that much but that's as far as it goes...St. Louis is the best city in one of the shittiest states in the country. That's as good as it gets....

Scott Calhoun
Scott Calhoun

he would snub the graffiti wall, im sure, but if you cant appreciate all forms of art, youll never see that there is some incredible art there. This city has some VERY talented artists in it!!!

Dannisboy
Dannisboy

I don't think I'm the only one when I say New York City sucks.  Hard.  The people suck.  The politics suck.  The cost and expense of living suck.  Their attitude and culture suck.  Mr. Wilson is a perfect example and you, Mr. Wilson, suck.  I would expect nothing less from someone from a city in which Anthony Weiner is not a just a serious candidate for Mayor, but a leading candidate.

Don't come back Mr. Wilson.  Please tell your NYC friends they're not welcome either.  Keep your shitty attitude in your shitty city. 

Scott Calhoun
Scott Calhoun

No, Eric, look at it like this, we are a city who treats people how they treat us. If someone wants to rip on our city, why should we be nice to them?

Chester Angel
Chester Angel

It's actually "good riddance". Nice example of the uneducated aspect I mentioned though..

Otis G. Grove III
Otis G. Grove III

Are we having are Facebook fight? Should we make up over your toasted ravioli?

Otis G. Grove III
Otis G. Grove III

Too bad others don't... Now if you pardon me it's time for some bagels and lox.....

Eric Seelig
Eric Seelig

That's the thing -- St. Louis can be great, but often, you need some sort of insider guide showing you the underbelly to see that, and that isn't necessarily what a visitor is going to get. I don't really see that we are in the position to complain about someone writing something like this. There was another "they didn't see what they were supposed to see!" story like this from the NY Times earlier this year, wasn't there? Some of the awesome local stuff is made more self-evident in other cities. The good things here often being geographically spread out from one another doesn't help.

Eric Seelig
Eric Seelig

"STL is known for being welcoming and smiling!" Except to "snobby," "unreal," "materialistic" New Yorkers, apparently!

anniebelle15
anniebelle15

"freelance" = "unemployed"

what he should have critisized STL for was hiring a douche like him in the first place. how does one even hire a "free lance art critic" and why would one do that?

Peg Keller
Peg Keller

The article may have been pretentious, but that doesn't mean it's not true. I used to bring out of towners on tours to these places mentioned and very few were impressed. There are great places to go in St Louis, but the Art museum is really weak compared to other big cities. If you've been to the Chicago art institute, you know exactly what I mean. The Botanical gardens are beautiful, but not for lunch and not when it's 90 degrees. It's best to show the side of St Louis that is unique, not to try to wow someone with a watered down version of what every other large city has. I have yet to meet someone who is not crazy about City Museum 10 minutes after they see it.

Sharon Walker
Sharon Walker

Good riddens! Don't let the door hit cha where the good Lord split cha!

Sharon Walker
Sharon Walker

This city is about the people, the neighborhoods, and about our history. We don't sacrifice our history to polish up for strangers. You gotta love our city....brick by brick. If you cannot look at this city and see the beauty, then you have no business being an art critic.

wolfoffl
wolfoffl

@Jillian Ashley Since when is the hotel in question "mediocre"?
Please, child.

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