Yesterday Indianapolis Monthly tweeted a link to an article about The Art Assignment that appears in their January issue in which they referred to me as “@realjohngreen’s wife.” It ruffled a few feathers, with some reminding @IndyMonthly of my twitter handle (@SWUSUG) and others voicing the preference that I be referred to independent of my husband’s online accomplishments.
I was instantly flattered by the support of my twitter followers and their insistence that I be evaluated on my own merit. But the truth is complicated. Indy Monthly did tweet about the article without referencing John; it’s just that John only saw the tweet that mentioned him. He retweeted it; more people read the article, and now more people know about The Art Assignment. Everybody wins!
But then it gets stickier. We can’t deny that Indy Monthly, and—by extension—me, have used John’s twitter fame for our own benefit. That’s pretty much what twitter’s all about, though, isn’t it? And there’s also the fact that I am indeed @realjohngreen’s wife. I married John in 2006, before he had even begun making YouTube videos, and way before I had any idea that he would develop a densely layered online life and following. (I did, however, suspect his writing skilz would get him somewhere.)
I’ve had a career trajectory separate from John’s, and he and I have really enjoyed rooting for each other in our distinct realms. When we met, I was working at an art gallery in Chicago, and he supported me in my endeavor to go to graduate school to study art history. He quit his job at Booklist Magazine to move to NYC with me, and encouraged me through many dry papers on art theory and sparsely paid museum internships. When that was over, we moved to Indianapolis—a city in which we knew no one—so that I could accept a curatorial position at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, where I worked for six years. He’s been an invaluable reader for me throughout the process, asking hard questions and not letting me get away with abstruse insider art language (like using the word abstruse). And in turn I’ve been an important reader for him, critiquing and helping to plot many versions of stories that have and have not made it to press.
Truth is, we’ve been collaborating for a long time, just not formally. Since the early days when John would lurk around the art openings for the gallery I worked for drinking free wine, he and I have had an amazingly fun time together visiting galleries and museums, talking about art, and meeting interesting artists, curators, art historians, and gallerists. When the opportunity arose to work together to develop a video series about art for PBS Digital Studios, I jumped. I bring the art expertise, and John brings the Internet video savvy and—let’s be real here—a not insignificant social media following.
Over the past several months since I quit my job at the IMA and started working on The Art Assignment, John and I have experienced the plusses and minuses of shared marital enterprise. I’ve learned John’s creative process is fueled by doubt and anxiety, and that we need separate offices. But we’ve also had a great time doing things we were already doing—hanging out with artists, traveling, talking about art—and things we never thought possible, like creating video about art that is simultaneously smart and accessible.
As our premiere date for The Art Assignment rapidly approaches, I’m genuinely thrilled to put this new project in to the world and have an active, open, and nuanced conversation about art. And I’ll be doing it both as @SWUSUG and @realjohngreen’s wife.