by Heide Brandes
Photography by John Jernigan for Art Desk Magazine
On a quiet park bench outside of the Kirkpatrick Foundation’s Marfa Contemporary Art Center in Marfa, Texas, an idea for an art publication of the highest quality was taking shape.
Kirkpatrick Foundation Director Louisa McCune, who has an extensive background in publishing, sat with Christian Keesee, co-founder and president of Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center and founder of Marfa Contemporary, to explore the idea of a magazine that would support what the Kirkpatrick Foundation does in supporting the arts.
“We met on a park bench in Marfa in 2012 to talk about a magazine that supports what we do,” McCune said. “We published our first issue exactly one year later to the day. We have no advertising, so 65 percent of the content is related to the three arts entities we support, and includes artist profiles, show information. The other 35 percent is content about what we find to be interesting.”
ArtDesk is a free, quarterly publication devoted to the contemporary arts, performance and thought. The content focuses on regional and national events, exhibitions and education, promoting creative literacy and appreciation.
As part of the Kirkpatrick Foundation’s mission to support arts, three arts centers including the Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center, receive support.
The foundation also supports Marfa Contemporary, an arts center that encourages artistic expression in all its forms through education and exhibitions; and the Green Box Arts Festival in Green Mountain Falls, Colo., which provides artists and visitors with an opportunity to nurture the creative process.
“Our mantra was to think global, but act local,” said McCune. “In one issue, you might have an artist from Brazil who is working in Argentina and showing in Green Mountain Falls. We recruited the best—the best writers, the best photographers, the best designers for the magazine.”
ArtDesk began with two issues a year. McCune’s dream was to eventually have the consumer magazine in newsstands around the country and the world, but she especially wanted to see ArtDesk on newsstands in Japan.
“I thought we’d maybe get there in a few years. We were in Japan with our second issue,” she said. “That meant we were now global.”
The caliber of the magazine earned instant fans, especially with contributing art icons like Ed Ruscha. Every issue also promotes the values of the Kirkpatrick Foundation and includes at least one piece on animal welfare.
Today, ArtDesk has undergone a change. Now formatted as a high-quality broadsheet magazine that prints four times a year, more and more people are receiving the publication. The magazine goes out to 10,000 area subscribers through The Daily Oklahoman, 18,000 through the Tulsa World and an additional 3,000 in Marfa as an insert.
The next issue, set to print this spring, will see a print run of about 75,000, McCune said. Another change is the recruitment of a full-time staff for the magazine.
“ArtDesk is a high-quality, general interest consumer magazine that focuses on our agenda to educate our audience on the art of our time and support our favorite nonprofits,” McCune said. “We want Oklahomans of all stripes to see the importance of art education. We are telling the story of contemporary art.”