• The big news this week was the sudden departure of Vincent Kitch as director of Seattle's Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs after only 16 months on the job. His hiring, away from an arts government job in Austin, was questionable from the start. Mayor McGinn, his staff, and the volunteer committee charged with the hiring had not been aware that the job title they listed for Kitch in Austin was not actually a job he held any longer—or that he had left it after a dispute with Austin arts groups.
After his arrival, Kitch didn't make many friends. Members of the hiring committee had been sworn to secrecy, but in January 2012, one of those, artist Cheryl dos Remedios, broke her secrecy and submitted a poem to The Stranger's Regrets Issue: "I regret I fell for the pitch/of Vincent Kitch./Public trust is no small thing./When you grab for the brass, it should ring/true." At least one artist staffer at OACA left the department citing Kitch as the reason.
This weekend, in the aftermath of the announcement, the buzz from artists was either that they had "never laid eyes on him"—common—or that they actively disliked him.
"When we first met him," one artist said, "it was just obvious that he was either out of his league or uninterested. He complained about the job off the bat, and we had just met him, so that was really weird. We walked out of our meeting and we thought, 'There's no way this dude's lasting more than two years.' It was just obvious, without question. Honestly, I thought he was a piece of shit."
When he took the job, Kitch said, "I'm a big customer-service guy. We have to leverage everything we have, and that takes collaboration and partnership." But several people said that's not how he acted.
"I think these administrators live in a bubble and they're happy there," one art dealer said. "And I think Seattle deserves somebody in that position who lives in the public eye."
Another common refrain: "It doesn't seem like the mayor cares who's in that job," one curator said.
Nobody could—or would—say why Kitch left now. Former Bumbershoot artistic director Michele Scoleri, a senior adviser to the mayor, will lead the department as she directs the search for an interim director in the coming weeks.
Back when the mayor was originally searching, The Stranger sat down, thought hard, and made three suggestions for great directors. Hey, maybe reconsider those folks? As the only paper in this city with full-time staffers covering every arts discipline, we didn't just pull them out of our asses, you know.
• Word has it that a local artists' residency space is infested with bedbugs. The powers that be at the space have begged infestees not to blab about it, as the space is so important/does so much good, it shouldn't be vilified just for bedbugging people. Okay, we'll pretend we didn't hear that. Just spray, already.