My meager qualifications didn’t seem to bother Weekly founding editor Jay Levin, who gave me my first break. I started contributing stories about art and artists, initially covering the video, performance art and photography that were dominant at the time. I lived on Winona Avenue, about a half-dozen blocks from the Weekly’s seedy offices, so I would walk down with my carefully typed copy.
Like most art students in the 1970s, I knew about Judy Chicago. When I saw the documentary film by Johanna Demetrakas, Right Out of History: The Making of Judy Chicago’s Dinner Party, I was appalled by the way Chicago enlisted her female devotees to provide unpaid labor, while she took all the credit for the finished product. In any case, I felt The Dinner Party wasn’t nearly as interesting as the car hoods and pastel minimalist sculptures she had made in the 1960s.
So I said so.
Several of Chicago’s loyalists wrote to the Weekly in high dudgeon. How dare the paper send a man to review a film about Chicago?
Levin, who loved even a hint of controversy, printed the letters with a reply noting that Hunter Drohojowska (as I was then known) was both a woman and a feminist.
He then hired me as the Weekly’s first art editor and critic. It was my first experience with an encouraging editor and, to this day, I am grateful.
Hunter Drohojowska-Philp is the author of Full Bloom: The Art and Life of Georgia O’Keeffe and co-author ofJulius Shulman, Modernism Rediscovered.