Ever since my poem, “If I Had A Wish,” won the coveted 3rd place ribbon for my elementary school’s PTA Reflections contest, I knew I was a born writer. Rhyming “be” and “free,” “blue” and “you,” what else could possibly be my calling? Oh, that’s right. I also took home several awards for portraits of my mother at our local grocery store’s annual Mother’s Day drawing competition. Such events are proof that acquiring a position as an art critic, and thus combining my life-long loves, cannot be fortuitous.
Always independently combing through the deep world of art history, I fell in love with the way Marc Chagall managed to paint the way my dreams would look manifested. I wanted to move into Matisse’s red room, and dance like Degas’ muses. When I grew older, it was Marc Rothko and Helen Frankenthaler, then Betye Saar and Kiki Smith. I created my own art but I never ceased to be fascinated by the way others have translated their perspective into their work. Upon my arrival at Peoria, Illinois’ Bradley University, it was not hard to persuade me to abandon my initial interest in studying commercial photography. I must also pay homage to my scarf-swaddled, leather pants-wearing professor Sarah, who made art history look cool.
My studies included seminars on women in art history, which supported my Women’s History minor, and consecutive independent studies on the topic of 20th century Latin American Art and Mexican muralists. Also an intern for our university galleries, I proudly assisted in installing and opening a 2002 collection by Photorealist legend Phillip Pearlstein.
Post graduation, I had always planned to attend graduate school in New York for Art Criticism. Instead, I dove right into such work shortly after moving back home to Milwaukee. I happily wrote for the city’s beloved independent paper The Shepherd Express for over three years, critiquing and reporting on Milwaukee’s state of visual arts. Desperate for a city whose art scene was booming, I opted to move to the left coast, as Los Angeles was rapidly becoming a contender as the hub of contemporary art in North America. Furthermore, beaches and sunshine can be fairly persuasive as well.
Since my departure from the Midwest, I have been living and working in Silverlake, freelancing for publications like ArtWeek, Flavorpill, Artkrush, and dearest Whitehot Magazine, press release writing for outstanding local galleries, and blogging for Silverlake’s Found Gallery. I also work independently as an artist and poetry/prose author, ever inspired by the garish, eclectic, Candyland that is Los Angeles.
After several years working as one of Milwaukee, Wisconsin’s primary visual arts journalists, Ashley Tibbits now lends her words to such West Coast sources as Flavorpill LA, ArtWeek, and RealTalk LA among others. When she isn’t judging the work of others, Ashley is developing her own mixed media/photography collection and praying that other critics will be write really nice things about it.
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