Christian Frock in Hyperallergic:
In the spring of 2014 I was invited to write freelance art criticism for the San Francisco Chronicle — the invitation came in an email out of the blue one day from the late David Weigand, who passed away earlier this month, who was then the Executive Features Editor. It was a thrilling opportunity, but everything soon unraveled when I was handed off to another editor.
I define my work as independent because I choose my subjects. I don’t work on assignment unless it makes sense for my larger body of work, which encompasses a number of themes relative to art, politics, and public life. My focus is not always warmly received by editors hoping for a certain kind of commercial-art-market boosterism, but I see my work as a collection of research and ideas, specifically my own. Writing simply doesn’t pay enough to write repurposed ad copy. Weigand was openly enthusiastic about the political nature of my writing and had studiously considered a lot of my work, going back several years. Talking with me in his windowless office the day he sent me a contract, his exact words were, “Come work for me and write whatever you want.” I couldn’t believe my luck.
But as I said, it didn’t last. After talking through some ideas, I was assigned to another editor. I soon pitched a story on the block-long Oakland-Palestine Solidarity Mural being produced that summer in Oakland, featuring work by a number of great artists, including Emory Douglas, former Minister of Culture for the Black Panther Party. Everyone wanted mural stories, plus Emory Douglas is a legend — it seemed like a slam dunk. I was stunned when my editor wrote back a terse no, saying I was “talking to the wrong lady here on this issue,” and expanding only to say in a second email, that she had strong feelings on the subject and “not that side LOL.”