‘New York Observer’ Going After Art Audience

Editor Spiers talks to 'Adweek' about new spinoff site

Tomorrow, The New York Observer will launch GalleristNY.com, a vertical covering New York City’s art world. Observer editor Elizabeth Spiers and culture editor Sarah Douglas, who recently joined the paper from Art+Auction and who will oversee GalleristNY, talked to Adweek about turning the Observer's irreverent lens on the insular art world.

Adweek: Why a new vertical on art now?

Douglas: I think it’s undeniable that the visual art world is at a point of intersection with other parts of arts and culture. [Art dealer and gallery owner] Larry Gagosian was mentioned in a Kanye West song (written with Jay-Z), which is really interesting. On the noncommercial side, there are hundreds of thousands of people lining up at MOMA. This is a point where the art world is really sort of opening up, and there’s an increased awareness of it.

Who’s the target audience?

Douglas: If we’re successful, we will be addressing, and servicing, an insider audience . . . but also the art-interested audience that goes to museums. We named the site New York because the New York art world is of interest to the rest of the world. But it certainly shouldn’t be seen as limited.

Is the audience big enough to justify a standalone site for art?

Douglas: Visual art is a huge driver of cultural tourism in this city. I remember being at a press conference for the armory, and Bloomberg was talking about the number of visitors that come in for the show, and I was just floored. Visual art is a real growth area.

GalleristNY is the third vertical The Observer has launched, after Betabeat and PolitickerNJ. Are there others in the works?

Spiers: There are. We’re going to take the areas where our coverage is strongest and spin them off. We’ll probably do one before the end of the year.

Since the art world is used to deferential treatment, what’s been the reaction to The Observer’s coverage?

Spiers: We’re not gratuitously negative. You always have the scenario where you’re covering a tight-knit incestuous community, so we’ve had a few snippy comments. If that weren’t happening, I’d think we were dropping the ball.

Sounds like you’re talking about publishing now.

Spiers: The tightly knit, incestuous communities are the things The Observer covers best.