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That’s Entertaining: The Best Arts Coverage Around

5/5/2011 12:25:52 PM

Tags: 2011 Utne Independent Press Awards, 2011 UIPA, UIPA, American Craft, Film Comment, Offbeat, Oxford American, Public Art Review, Theme, Vintage Magazine, Wax Poetics, arts

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Our library contains 1,300 publications—a feast of magazines, journals, alt-weeklies, newsletters, and zines—and every year, we honor the stars in our Utne Independent Press Awards. We’ll announce this year’s winners on Wednesday, May 18, at the MPA’s Independent Magazine Group conference in San Francisco. From now until then, we’ll post the nominees in all of the categories on our blogs. Below you’ll find the nominees for the best arts coverage, with a short introduction to each. These magazines are literally what Utne Reader is made of. Though we celebrate the alternative press every day and with each issue, once a year we praise those who have done an exceptional job. 

A celebration of handmade objects and the people who create them, American Craft brings to life the work of glassblowers, woodworkers, jewelry makers, and artisans of all stripes. Published by the American Craft Council, it covers its inspiring subjects from workbench to gallery. 

***

Forget box-office battles and vapid celebrity chatter: Film Comment focuses its lens on cinema’s substance. Drawing on a deep, experienced pool of critics and feature writers, the magazine gets off the red carpet to explore the wonderfully diverse film omniverse.  

***

Even after surviving Katrina and suffering BP’s incompetence, New Orleans is still as undercovered as its native musicians are unknown. Offbeat, a free fanzine turned nationally distributed glossy, solves both problems by offering intimate, intelligent stories about Louisiana’s music, food, and culture.

***

Steeped in the South but continually redefining just what that means, the Oxford American is a literary exploration of life and culture below the Mason-Dixon Line. Calling itself “the Southern magazine of good writing,” it has encompassed topics ranging from “the wide world of eating dirt” to “gun-lovin’ environmentalists.” 

***

The world of public art now ranges far beyond the familiar large-scale outdoor sculpture to street art, land art, and myriad other forms. Public Art Review nimbly covers this shifting terrain with rigor and verve, enhancing the critical conversation and drawing crucial connections.  

***

With its Asian roots and global consciousness, Theme is driven by—and inevitably instills—a zest for fresh looks, sounds, and ideas. Each issue of this sleek quarterly features a guest curator and a thematic thread that writers, photographers, and designers explore via features, interviews, and lush visual spreads.  

***

Cracking the oversized cover of Vintage Magazine opens a window on a bygone world, one where nostalgia and artistry trump bland commercialism and immediacy. Various weights of paper, a thread-stitched binding, throwback design, and pop-out articles demonstrate that a biannual journal covering antique arts and handcrafting can be tactile as well as visual.  

***

A labor of love, the Brooklyn-based Wax Poetics is a geeked-out fanzine dedicated to unearthing the grittiest funk, coolest jazz, and smoothest soul ever pressed into a groove. The writers proselytize, the editors keep the mix fresh, and the archival album art and concert footage are beatific.  

See our complete list of 2011 nominees . 

Image by my dog sighs, licensed under Creative Commons. 



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