Van Ryzin Launches Online Arts Magazine

Nonprofit Sightlines to offer cultural journalism, criticism

Twelve months ago, the buzz around the Austin arts scene was that Jeanne Claire van Ryzin was being let go from her longtime position as arts writer at the Austin American-Statesman. This month, the buzz around the arts scene is also about van Ryzin because she's started her own magazine about arts and culture, Sightlines.

The online venture made its official debut during the first weekend of the East Austin Studio Tour, with van Ryzin promoting the news on social media – @sightlinesmag on Facebook and Instagram, @sightlinesmag1 on Twitter – and in extended visits at such high-traffic EAST stops as ICOSA Collective, Flatbed Press & Gallery, Gallery Shoal Creek, and CAMIBAart. And as might be predicted in an arts community that receives far too little coverage for the amount of creative work that gets produced, the response was wildly enthusiastic. Not only did locals flood van Ryzin's FB feed with congratulations, but 14 of them actually stepped up with donations to support Sightlines, contributing almost $2,000. (The magazine is currently a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, the national arts service organization, while it awaits 501(c)(3) status. Donations may be made here.)

Sightlines is set up to cover the full range of cultural disciplines: visual arts, architecture and design, theatre, dance, literature and letters, and music. And van Ryzin states that the magazine will provide more than news and reviews. Essays that examine ideas in arts and culture – whether local or global – will have a home on the site. Already, two pieces appear under the heading of "Ideas": one on art and audience in the age of Trump by American-Statesman theatre contributor Andrew J. Friedenthal and one on the need for change in etiquette at classical concerts by KMFA music director and on-air host Chris Johnson. Other writers who have already made contributions to Sightlines include van Ryzin's old Statesman colleague Luke Quinton, former Chronicle contributor Seth Orion Schwaiger, and MFA playwright at UT Austin I.B. Hopkins. And of course, van Ryzin has written much of the magazine's copy and will no doubt write much more.

It's a worthy endeavor and a welcome one. As van Ryzin puts it in the magazine's statement of mission, "Arts journalism creates an ongoing conversation. That conversation is necessary fuel for any creative ecosystem. And it’s a conversation that’s a necessity of civic life." Here's wishing Sightlines success and a long life of covering arts and culture in Austin and beyond.

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