The Current reports on Blue Star director Bill FitzGibbons‘ attempt to rally community support for saving Dan Goddard’s job as art editor at the Express-News. Goddard had been at the Express-News for over two decades before he was swept away in a massive round of layoffs at the Hearst-owned daily (according to this the paper eliminated 165 positions, including 75 from the newsroom — word on the street is that they are merging operations with the Houston Chronicle). During the time that I’ve been paying attention, he’s generally been considered a reasonably well-informed, but unambitious art journalist. In conversation, he hinted that his desire to cover smaller grassroots art spaces taking risks was discouraged by his bosses, who wanted mostly safe, factual reviews of museum shows. Since the layoffs, Elda Silva seems to be covering the visual arts, with brilliant, insightful posts like this (the first post covering visual art in almost 2 weeks — astute readers may notice we’ve removed Art Beat from our blogroll).

It is disconcerting to have the only daily paper in San Antonio all but abandon visual art coverage. But at the same time, it’s pretty clear that the Express-News never saw critical arts coverage as an important part of its mission, and that Goddard didn’t have the will or the leverage to change that. I agree that art awareness in San Antonio will suffer due to the loss of Goddard at Express-News, but I’m hopeful that this gap will inspire fresh blood and new critical perspectives to enter the arena.