‘The notion was that if one could see everything, one could have a general knowledge of what was going on in New York’
Last September, Andrew Ginzel sent a solemn email to his many followers, letting them know that he was discontinuing his “NYC Selected Shows to See” list, which he had been compiling and emailing semi-weekly since 2004. The list—a virtually encyclopedic guide to what was being shown where—was essential for many people in the New York art world. It could be used almost like a digital map, and without it, many people were lost. But now it has returned.
As of this month, Ginzel’s list has been transitioned over to Artcritical, the online publication of art criticism edited by David Cohen. The list won’t be emailed out anymore, but it will continue to live online, in the form of a page called “The List.”
“The urge to resuscitate was one to try to find a platform that could take over at least some of the hours that went into digesting information,” Ginzel, a professor at School of Visual Arts and an artist, said in a phone conversation two weeks ago. “As you could imagine, to keep something accurate and supple, because things change and shift, and galleries announce openings on certain days, but the actual receptions are on different days—it gets a little bad,” he added, chuckling.
There were simpler times. Ginzel said that, in 2004, when he first began to conceive the list, he was able to keep track of most galleries. “From the inception, the notion was that if one could see everything, one could have a general knowledge of what was going on in New York,” he explained, adding that, initially, the list was meant as a teaching tool for his SVA undergraduate students. “A lot of what I do is try to situate young artists in the moment in which they exist.”
The first list, which Ginzel emailed on January 16, 2004, was just one printed page long, and it had only one gallery or institution outside Manhattan—PS1 in Long Island City, Queens. By its last iteration, which was sent on July 14, 2015, “NYC Selected Shows to See” had become ten pages, single-spaced, in 9-point font, and had grown to include galleries in the Bronx, Staten Island, Brooklyn, and occasionally elsewhere.
The project was a massive undertaking, Ginzel said, and it was one that he did mainly on his own. “I worked from time to time with some interns or students, but to be honest with you, it never really worked out very well,” he said. “It was always actually more efficient for me to do it than to try and double check.” Instead, he relied on his own knowledge for specific details—for example, that, at one point, Andrea Rosen Gallery had its receptions on Thursdays, but opened its shows on Fridays.
In the eleven and a half years that Ginzel emailed the list, New York’s art scene got bigger and bigger, and it became harder to keep track of so many openings. Yet even after the list temporarily stopped last September, people continued to use it as a research tool. Scanning through old emails from Ginzel feels like reading through a rich, if highly specific, archive. “In a certain way, it does become a kind of document,” he said. “Ken Johnson called me up recently and asked me about something he thought was going on at a certain time and date long past.”
Now that the list is hosted by Artcritical, Ginzel is able to take a step back from the rigor of maintaining it. “Currently, I’m trying not to get too involved, but I’m just trying to make sure it all goes forward,” he said with a laugh. I asked him what the future holds for his creation. “I would assume that it will metamorphose into an app,” he said.