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Tulsa Kinney


ANNIVERSARIES MARK cycles, patterns, reasons to keep going. If you make it one year, you might as well go another. All of a sudden, it's five years. Now you're committed. I could apply that logic to quitting smoking (which I did) and to starting Artillery.

My soon-to-be co-founder said, "Let me finish my book, and I'll help you start your art magazine." But it was what he said afterward — "Remember, once you start, you can never go back" — that still echoes in my mind today.

Amid my paranoia and delusions of grandeur, we did put out our debut issue of Artillery, with Paul Takizawa as art director and my husband, Charles Rappleye, as publisher. I didn't know what Artillery was yet. I was just making art, only with words and a computer. Our first issue featured Catherine Opie breast-feeding her son. It's a famous photo now. I think Regen Projects never forgave us for that. We didn't know any better, really. We butchered the image. We cropped the hell outta it, blew it up, overlaid type, put another image by Opie on top of it — everything imaginable that was against all the rules. If you're reading this, Cathy, please forgive us, for we knew not better.

After Opie, there was an artist, Andrew Krasnow, who used human skin as his medium. He made an American flag out of flesh — dyed red, white and blue. He held his "flag" to the camera, and that ended up as our third cover. That seemingly patriotic image, with our logo — just the word "artillery" — made it clear to us that it wasn't clear to others what the magazine was all about. And that is when — many miles from Miami, on our way home to Los Angeles in a rented car after our first art fair — the subtitle "Killer Text on Art" was conceived.

We steadily built an audience and started to make our presence felt. We changed printers after we were censored twice (thanks to David Humphrey's visual column, New York Barrage). By then, there were two other start-up art magazines published in LA — one is gone now, but the other remains. After our lone ex–LA Weekly sales rep stopped showing up and started signing his e-mails "God Bless You," we weren't entirely sure what our fate would be. Then came Paige Wery (dare I thank God?), who became our publisher in January 2008.

Paige coming onboard felt like our second act, along with the arrival of our creative director, Bill Smith, who joined us around the same time. Bill brought skills honed at Mean magazine and a new look, cleaner and slicker, while Paige took over advertising and pushed us from 64 to 80 pages, and today 96 pages. Our events and her Live Art Debates make her a tour de force and someone to be reckoned with — just ask our advertisers! She's made Artillery a staple at art fairs and helped establish us as LA's premier contemporary art magazine.

The beginning of our fifth year could open our third act. That sounds a bit premature, but we feel confident the best is yet to come; with several new writers and editors, the Artillery team just keeps getting stronger.

Thank you, Los Angeles art galleries, dealers and institutions. You made us what we are today. Without your support, there would be no Artillery. And thanks to all of my loyal contributors, who excel with their writing skills and pitches and stay on top of it. I definitely couldn't do it without you.

And finally, to you, my dear readers — who else would I write this letter to? I thank you for sticking around, because we're sticking around too.

—Tulsa Kinney