In April 2008, one early Wednesday morning after a lively IAM discussion group, I sat at a café table in Tribeca with Kevin, and we hatched a crazy plan: a web-based culture magazine, aggressively omnivorous, which would merrily ignore the established periodical wisdom of “timeliness” and simply go after culture in an exuberant, wide-ranging celebration of the best things humans make and do. Most culture publications spend a lot of time bellyaching or berating, or focusing on the established and well-known; we’d be here to expose readers to the good and think carefully about the dubious.
About four months later, on August 29, 2008, The Curator launched, supported by International Arts Movement. We soon attracted a devoted readership and a wide range of contributors as we covered everything from video games to sports to visual art to tea.
Many magazines have a carefully cultivated voice and audience; The Curator has thrived on cultivating individual voices. Some editors assign articles; The Curator‘s offerings are almost exclusively driven by the delight and interest of its contributors.
Along the way we’ve met challenges and started paying a tiny pittance to our contributors. We’ve gone through a redesign, lost and added staff. I spent two years turning out the weekly edition – we haven’t missed a week! – and have been delighted to see readership spike, with tens of thousands of unique visitors each month.
Earlier this year I was offered a full-time position teaching writing at a tiny private college with big dreams in the Empire State Building. It soon became clear that this was the right place for me, and I knew I’d have to move on.
When I was thinking about the possible next editor for the magazine, I knew a few things were important. This editor had to be a talented lover of words. The person should be a cultural omnivore with an insatiable curiosity about the world – not just what’s in the mainstream, but not exclusively holding to esoteric tastes. And ideally, the editor would be in a cultural center outside New York City.
My friend Natalie Race rose to the top of the list immediately. I had the great pleasure of hanging out with Natalie when she spent a year interning with IAM in New York. She is a woman of great taste and intelligence, and is constantly exposing me to new bands and books I’ve never heard of. She recently moved back to Charlottesville, Virginia, where she’s helping to launch the dynamic New City Arts Initiative (along with other friends, former IAM interns, and Curator contributors). And she was crazy enough to come on board with this fledgling, upstart publication.
I’m glad to call Natalie my friend, and even more excited that she’s here to take the magazine through its next phase of growth. But she won’t be doing it alone: the very talented and capable Meaghan Ritchey will be continuing as managing editor, and Jenni Simmons – one of our original staff writers – will continue as assistant editor.
A more capable editorial team I could not imagine, and so I know I leave the publication in good hands. I’ll still be around, popping in and out, but I’m excited to see where this little, crazy dream – hatched over a lukewarm cup of coffee on an early morning – will go.