One of the most frequent questions I get asked is, “How big is your staff?” To which I usually fumble with an answer, saying something like, “I’m not really sure. I need to count one of these days.” It’s been a tough question ever since we converted into a virtual company almost a decade ago, albeit a company producing very tangible products. I can’t just count desks anymore, as our full-time staff is tiny—far less than what is needed to produce the magazine, our digital properties and our custom publications. So I just took a quick tally: last month’s print edition represented the efforts of just under thirty of us: publishers, editors, ad salespeople, writers, artists and photographers, designers, drivers, etc. Add in quite a few contributors to our web sites, and the number of people it takes to be Newcity each month is right about fifty these days.
It’s humbling when you think about that number over a continuum of time, dating back to our founding in 1986. Thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of folks have contributed to the growth and sustenance of this enterprise over our lifetime.
Old days, and our people past and present, have been heavy on my mind lately. I just saw the Gregg Bordowitz show at the Art Institute and it, along with Rebecca Makkai’s still-surging novel “The Great Believers” which won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction this weekend, evokes vivid memories of those times in the late eighties when we started Newcity, when untreatable AIDS was wreaking its destruction across so many undeserving communities, and the activism of that time in the face of a hostile government was reshaping the culture at large, while shaping our then-young personal worldview.
A recent conversation with Elliot Reichert, who is departing as our art editor with this issue, stirred the pot some more. It seems like yesterday I met Elliot, as he was leaving a curatorial position for graduate school. But the four years he was with us, Elliot said, made his Newcity tenure the longest-running, most stable professional connection he’s had in his still-relatively short life.
The passage of time and the joy and melancholy of memories weigh heavily. We’ll miss Elliot and wish him well. It’s a graduation of sorts, befitting the subject of this month’s lead feature, “Breakout Artists,” which points out some lesser-known artists who deserve to be better known. This issue brings back its own memories after sixteen years of creating it, dating back to 2004. Like the Newcity staff, Breakout Artists now number enough past subjects to constitute its own alumni network of sorts, some of whom have become today’s art-world superstars, others who’ve receded from the scene, and many who continue doing what they’ve been doing all along.
In any case, behold the Breakout Artists Class of 2019.
Look for Newcity’s May 2019 print edition at over 1000 Chicago-area locations this week or subscribe to the print edition at newcity.com/subscribe.