I’m sure that I’m not the first person to notice this, but why am I an "Ann Arbor-based artist" or a "Portland-based artist" or "based in Austin" / "based out of Nashville”? It’s like I’m a jet-setter or have satellite studios. Or I joined the Art Military and got stationed here. It's a ubiquitous hyphenated descriptor in the art world. Is “New Orleans artist" grammatically incorrect somehow? Or is it just unsexy because it's not NY/London/L.A./Berlin. So maybe the "base" wards off being overly committed or provincial. I'm just based here, I could leave at any time. I'm based here, but my art is international.
Because Ann Arbor is truly an uncool backwater in certain camps. A couple years ago I saw Hans Ulrich Obrist interview the artist Joseph Grigely (who used to teach at U-M and is now BASED IN Chicago) and he said that he’d rather go to the dentist than go back to Ann Arbor.
1/9/19 update: OK, I get it now after reading contentious conversations surrounding the term “Detroit artist” - if you didn’t grow up in the place you currently reside or if you’ve lived in a variety of cities (like I have) you are a [current city]-based artist. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯