Phoenix critic wins grant

Cook gets to eat
By MIKE MILIARD  |  December 2, 2009

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It was announced earlier this week that Phoenix contributing writer Greg Cook's art blog, the New England Journal of Aesthetic Research, has been awarded a $30,000 endowment from the Creative Capital/Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant Program, which rewards "commitment to the craft of writing and the advancement of critical discourse on contemporary visual art."

One of just three blogs to receive the grant, Cook's site is especially deserving: it's a dense, sprawling, and compulsively updated clearing-house for arty goings-on across the Northeast — combining criticism and analysis of local museum and gallery shows, interviews with artists both famous and up-and-coming, and original reporting about the region's art scene. (It was Cook who first reported this past January, for instance, that Brandeis University's Rose Art Museum was planning to close.)

"If you look really closely and relentlessly and intensely at this region, you'll find amazing things going on," says Cook — also an artist and photographer in his own right — who sees his blog writing "almost fertilizing or composting" an already fruitful but sometimes underappreciated local scene, and "hopefully [making] a more exciting community for all of us."

Cook isn't sure at the moment just how he'll put his prize money to use. In a blog post Monday, he noted that "this windfall will allow the team at the New England Journal of Aesthetic Research to heat our headquarters and eat this winter."

He wasn't entirely joking. "The life of a freelancer in this economy is an exciting one," he says with a wry laugh. "So this is an encouragement to keep at it."

Down the road, some computer upgrades and new projects may be in the offing, but in the meantime, Cook says, "We're mostly gonna spend it on some booze and chocolate."

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