When The San Francisco Arts Quarterly (SFAQ) put out its first issue in 2010 it was somewhat of a necessary response to the times. Andrew McClintock, SFAQ’s current Founder and Editor-in-Chief, had watched two major independent news sources, the SF Guardian and SF Weekly, slash reporting budgets and local arts event listings nearly came to a halt.
In some ways, the ideas of McClinock and its original co-founder Gregory Ito, were more reactionary than calculated. The magazine’s first issues focused on neighborhoods like The Tenderloin and SoMa with “round-ups” of artistic happenings around the city.
While the publication is based in San Francisco, it has since expanded way outside the city and is a resource for content spanning international arts and culture. Sometime after changing the format to broadsheet, McClintock began to notice that SFAQ’s fewer-than-100-pages focused mainly on NYC-based artists.
Today SFAQ has grown in both size and reach – with DFAQ (DF: Distrito Federal) happening in Mexico City, a separate publication, simply called AQ, running local columns and essays in San Francisco, and now with NYAQ in New York City.
“NYC is the art city,” said McClintock. “It seemed like the next natural step in the process.”
Similar to the San Francisco magazine, it’s east coast counterpart will profile local artists and creative projects – freeing up more space for SFAQ to focus solely on West Coast art news.
While AQ has also seen the likes of Noam Choamsky and Mumia Abu Jamal grace its cover, McClintock likes to think of the Arts Quarterly empire as more than just a successful art magazine. After nineteen issues, the still-free publication continues to branch out and cover topics like net neutrally, alternative networks, digital art, social issues, global warming and economics, as well as art news.
“We also believe in accessibility of the content and diversity of contemporary and historical subjects,” said McClintock. “The art world can get pretty corny so we trying to keep it fresh.”
He also doesn’t just write about art – he’s also a self-described conceptual artist. One past project, “Assed Out and the Mini Dramas”, involved building an experimental pool hall in a room with limited head space and hundreds of delicately hovering balloons (the interactive installation was meant to evoke ideas of how societal conditions often limit our actions).
It was McClintock’s initial fascination with photography, book making, and the formation of Ever Gold (the downtown art gallery he helped found in 2010), which sparked the creation of SFAQ in the first place. Perhaps for these reasons, McClintock is more apt to describe the publication as a “social sculpture” where the printed medium is itself treated as an art work.
In the coming years, he said, readers can expect to see several changes to NYAQ and SFAQ that will allow both publications to continue to navigate the important artists, issues and topics it exists to cover.
“It seems in the current atmosphere of culture, society, the world…that if you have a voice you need to use it for good…so to me that is where AQ is going”
Since it’s inception, the publication has put out 22 issues and is distributed for free in 48 states and 14 countries, often as a package deal including all three issues (SFAQ, NYAQ and AQ).
Funding has come from the San Francisco Art Institute, where McClintock initially studied and oversaw projects for a time as its Interim Director of Exhibitions, and from Paule Anglim, a leading dealer of contemporary art in SF who recently passed away. The publication is now primarily supported by donors, grants, advertising sales and art sold through SFAQ[Projects], which opened as an arts and culture programming hub in March.
You can find new issues of NYAQ and past issues of all publications in PDF form here.