Inside Pulse » Work of Art: The Next Great Artist A pop culture mega-site with Movies, TV, Music, Sports, Comics, Video Games coverage for diehards, including news, reviews, live event coverage, audio podcasts, exclusive interviews and commentary. Fri, 31 Oct 2014 02:09:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 A pop culture mega-site with Movies, TV, Music, Sports, Comics, Video Games coverage for diehards, including news, reviews, live event coverage, audio podcasts, exclusive interviews and commentary. Inside Pulse no A pop culture mega-site with Movies, TV, Music, Sports, Comics, Video Games coverage for diehards, including news, reviews, live event coverage, audio podcasts, exclusive interviews and commentary. Inside Pulse » Work of Art: The Next Great Artist Work of Art: The Next Great Artist (Bravo) Episode 1-10 Finale Review Thu, 12 Aug 2010 13:17:52 +0000 Work of Art: The Next Great Artist

Season 1 Finale

Miles to go before we sleep.

The season 1 finale of Bravo’s Work of Art: The Next Great Artist was all that one could hope for. Good concept, strong performances, with a surprise finish.

The concept, or challenge parameters, gave each of the remaining artists, Abdi, Miles, and Peregrine, 3 months to work and $5000 dollars towards fabrication. The final show was to be held in the spacious Phillips de Pury Gallery which afforded each artist a sizable, multi-roomed exhibition space. This is what we’ve waited for. Space, time, and resources loosed on artists; asking for brilliance in return- not bookcovers. Gone are all the bounds of improvisational task doing that had contorted art into a parlor game low these many weeks. No more- “You’ll have one hundred Utrect bucks, and eight hours.” That “art” will not make it to the finale. The 90 day production time is a perfectly shaped window: long enough for substantial development, but short enough to keep everything sharp. In addition to time, one of the more noticeable constraints that had, up to this point, severely affected the “art” being made was the lack of reference materials. The artists were sequestered from television, newspapers, internet, and other commercial or collaborative avenues; hence so many self portraits. No more. Now we have money, time, and space. Let the Art Show begin.

Abdi, Miles, and Peregrine were something near outstanding. All three created and exhibited bodies of work that held together and were on par with, if not exceeded, a level of competence and professionalism seen at any major gallery. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE was shocked. Jerry, SJP, guest judge David LaChapelle, returning judges Phillips, Serrano, and Yvonne Force Villareal were all taken aback by how not bad it all was. It was especially telling when upon seeing the quality of the work, SJP enthusiastically ran up to SDP to inquisitively exclaim “They DO have futures!(?)” Even the artists themselves were pleased with and intimidated by the caliber of work with which they were exhibiting. Earlier in the episode Peregrine predicted “I’m sure its’ gonna suck.” Lucky for us that was just some self-deprecating banter. All three artists excelled, especially Peregrine.

Miles was the prohibitive favorite. Winner of the first two challenges, and consistently producing well-made, intellectually limber works, Miles seemed built for this show. Of all the derogatory things one may say about Miles, one could never question his artisthood. The boy moves, talks, looks like an artist. You could include him in a photo array and strangers would identify him as an artist. He fits nearly every Hollywood cliché for waif-ish, hyper-sensitive, ultra-cute nerdboy artist. When Simon de Pury visited him, Simon was overjoyed with the creative peculiarities that pulse from young Miles. He has all the hallmarks of The Next Great Artist.

For the finale Miles created another elegant grouping of black and white photographs and geometric digital prints. As usual, it was all based on something that only makes sense to Miles, but the visual manifestations of his ideas are engaging nonetheless. What was conspicuously absent from his show was Miles the engineer. The boy who crafted anything and everything from plywood and 2×4’s evaporated into the interior-minded formalism of pixilated emotion. The most astute reading of his work came from David LaChapelle who said “It looks like art, but what is he saying?” As it turns out, not much. In a stunning turn of events Miles was eliminated first.

Peregrine is now the favorite. She has a solid decade of art world experience, and could not be outdone by a 22 year old. Peregrine’s exhibition was spectacular; replete with drawings, sculpture, photography and even a cotton candy machine. Her carnival theme was an extrapolation of the piece that won week 7 for her (the my little pony drugscape). Peregrine created colorful wax and plastic sculptures of horses and doll bits that rung with a cheerful yet disquieting tone. They were complemented by breathy drawings of young girls throwing up all over their pretty pink dresses. It was all dominated by a haunting large-scale photograph of two preserved fawn fetuses (trust me, the photograph is much nicer than it sounds in print). Not enough can be said about the photograph of the fallen fawns. It is the best single piece made in association with this television show, and has great meaning and serenity that stretches well beyond the confines of basic cable. The combination of all these works created a feeling of comfort, even enjoyablity in relating to the more squeamish results of indulgence.

I was worried about Abdi. Miles the powerhouse, Peregrine the veteran, it seemed Abdi was to be a distant third. At 22, not many can pull together a cohesive, intellectually stimulating show out of their mother’s basement. But Abdi persevered and put forth a collection that showcased his considerable skills of rendering naturalistically. Like Peregrine, Abdi looked to his most successful piece (the horizontal portrait that got him into the finale) and grounded his exhibition on lessons he learned in the response to it. Abdi’s work was mostly based on his own body, mostly in a state of repose. The images, both drawings and paintings, expressed this repose as some sort of malady, but in his treatment of them revealed grace and freedom. Abdi also created two life-sized relief sculptures of topless black men (one a self portrait) in basketball apparel seemingly stretched across air- not dissimilar from the Air Jordan logo. These pieces were laid on the floor, a decision that made them feel more sunken in than bursting out. Abdi’s magnum opus was a large oil painting of a young black man (himself?) in a body bag. A rather solid painting, its’ title, Home, imbued the piece with somber resignation.

Abdi won.

Abdi is The Next Great Artist.

I’m not sure exactly why. It is not as if Abdi is a bad choice, he just didn’t seem to have won the challenge. I liked Peregrine’s show more. My friends liked Peregrine’s show more. My mom liked Peregrine’s show more. She put on a better show. Her main downfall (I couldn’t imagine that it would be fatal) was including too much stuff. She presented too many mediums in such high quality that it felt like a retrospective instead of an exhibition: a biennial of thy self. Being too productive is not usually a vice, but it may have come across as two shows crammed into one space. In contrast, Abdi barely had one full show. The current art fair conditioning of the art world eats up every expensive inch of gallery space. In relation to “le nouveau salon”, Abdi’s exhibition probably read incredibly restrained, contemplative even.

So Abdi won.

But the real winners are us, the art luvin’ public. There was much commotion over how negatively a reality show would portray the art world. How trivializing art’s sacred creation in front of cameras could tear culture clear off the bone. Well, it’s been 10 weeks and we’re all still here. No damage done- the world keeps spinnin’. Art is still as hoity and intimidating as it was 11 weeks ago.

What is not the same as it was 11 weeks ago is that my friends, my roommates, and my mom now know who Will Cotton and Jon Kessler are. They’ve heard of Jerry Saltz and Ryan McGinness. This is huge. These people are not famous. For lifelong art lovers like myself, they are, but not to the general public. They are art world famous, which makes a huge difference in overall popular cultural impactfulness. Bravo has breeched the barrier, removed the qualifier from their fame. And for that I am very grateful.

Long live China Chow.


Miles pointing out China Chow’s extraordinary wardrobe.

Miles’ nickname growing up- Miles of Smiles!!!

Simon explaining his first trip to Minneapolis was because he’s a huge Prince fan.×120.jpg

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Work of Art: Next Great Artist (Bravo) Episode 1-9 Review Thu, 05 Aug 2010 13:16:15 +0000 Work of Art: Next Great Artist

Episode 9

Natural Talents

Episode 9 began with Bill Powers (of all people) showing up at the William Beaver House (where the contestants are lodged) to inform them of a pending field trip. Bill, in his cutesy outfit with ostentatious indoor sunglasses, was an unlikely visitor. Incongruities such as this- Bill doing the job Simon or China should be and have been doing, are the little things that keep the show feeling unpolished, incomplete. In good news, at least Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn found time in her schedule to return to the show.

Work of Art’s penultimate challenge brought the artists out of the studio and into nature. With only 3 contestants moving forward to next week’s finale, the “Nature” theme will be the demise of 40% of our remaining cast. Packed neatly into Audis and driven to Connecticut, the artists were greeted at Sherwood State Park by China Chow -doing her best to look like Pocahontas. China’s faux-earthiness was to communicate the challenge’s objective to “Create a work of art inspired by nature.” Requiring the artists to “physically bring nature into your work”, the final piece must “incorporate raw materials” found in the park. Uh oh, Jackie.

Who could be a more perfect guest judge for work dealing with the natural world than Andy Goldsworthy!?! I suppose Andy was unavailable, so how about Michele Oka Doner? Oka Doner is represented by Marlborough Gallery, and has a fruitful and lengthy career, but… not that it is the end-all and be-all: Oka Doner doesn’t have a Wikipedia entry. I, along with many, was hoping that as the season progressed, WoA:NGA would start rolling out the big guns. The fact that this hasn’t happened must reflect an almost industry-wide skepticism in televised unction. Maybe in forthcoming seasons we will see some supreme A-listers, the Serra’s the Sherman’s, dare I say Damien Hirst? Name recognition aside, Oka Doner was an astute and zealously attired judge.

Abdi brought back some black gravel from the park to use as drawing material. Being as gravel serves as a horrendous drawing tool, Abdi mixed it generously with charcoal and pigment. The resulting drawing had his usual dynamism, but the monochromatic palette gave the piece atypical seriousness. The drawings lush blacks against the expanse of white paper held a mature severity. The piece’s main drawback was, as Jerry Saltz put it, a “Palm Beach art fair frame.” Michele Oka Doner went as far as to say the piece was “as close to masterful” as she has seen. Abdi won the challenge, and a place in next week’s finale.

Miles did what Miles does. He locates a point of reference, and does whatever he wants from thereon in. This time, he found a piece of mold. And through logic only privy to Miles, the tree fungus inspired the creation of a large bleach-stained paper canvas. He went on to flex his considerable engineering faculties in creating enormous wooden constructions that served as functional machinery, evidence of process, and sculptural component. Creating objects that simultaneously convey multiple expressions is damn near the ambition of all art making. Alas some find this version of art making as all too shrewd; not nearly hearty enough. A sentiment NY Times Art Critic Roberta Smith (Miss Saltz if ya nasty) touched upon in her epic article “Post-Minimal to the Max”. A sentiment voiced by Bill Powers who in critique claimed Miles’ piece “a little too clever”. When pushed on whether or not that hindered his enjoyment of the piece, Powers sheepishly admitted “Yeah, I kinda liked it.” Damn right you like it: that blazer your wearing tells me you live for this kinda shit. And Miles cruised safely into the finale.

That leaves Peregrine, Jaclyn, and Nicole fighting for the final spot.

Jaclyn, hamstrung by the rustic and tactile nature of Nature was unable to fully embrace the challenge. She ended up constructing a multi-paneled seascape bifurcated at the horizon by a brass pipe with a rock attached to it. For an artist who had absolutely no connection to her subject, the work was something of a marvel. It was cold and analytical, but not unsuccessful. Still, the piece was overly design-y and lacked any sense of urgency. Eliminated, Jaclyn, in her black mini mini skirt and jean jacket, sauntered out of our lives.

Nicole, a top performer for weeks, the female Miles, leader of the team that beat team Miles, and all-around earthy princess was poised to assume her spot in the finale. She created a folk art inspired dome festooned with acorns. A pod, a seed encrusted seed. Through over processes she mutated it into a husk-covered silicone mold that resembled an enlarged medical display of a Sasquatch testicle. The resulting sculpture “100% confused” Mr. Roberta Smith, and when the admirable quality of its strangeness was lauded Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn questioned “Is it strange enough?” It wasn’t, and shockingly Nicole was sent home.

Peregrine! How ya like me now!?!?

After the early exits of Nao, Trong, and Judith it seemed as if all the artworlders had been eliminated. Peregrine, least we forget, was the one who had been purchased by the Whitney Museum of American Art at a tender young age. Peregrine, who has been consistently pumping out theme-appropriate, professionally rendered art with little complaint. It isn’t everyday that the girl with the heavy lisp wearing a space helmet and cowboy boots gets overlooked. Peregrine created a branch and paper mache half-humanoid sculpture adorned with pervy line drawings. It wasn’t perfect, but the piece’s home spun hipsteriness ached of nature.

Miles, Abdi, and Peregrine.

Let’s see whacha got.


The way Simon de Pury says, “See you at zee opening!”

In a just awoken haze, Miles, draped in bedding, turns away from the camera exposing his naked rear end.

Getting to see Miles’ buns.

Finally seeing Miles’ sweet ass.×120.jpg

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Work of Art: Next Great Artist (Bravo) Episode 1-8 Review Fri, 30 Jul 2010 14:18:07 +0000 Work of Art: Next Great Artist

Episode 8

Opposites Attract

This week’s Work of Art: Next Great Artist was the second to last challenge before the finale. That’s right, the finale’s eve eve. I’d like to communicate some sense of surprise at how quickly time has past, but I just can’t. It has been a slow clumsy drag over some very knotty terrain. But in these waning days of WoA, the question of whether or not there will be a season two makes the final 3 episodes all the more precious.

Even viewed through this appreciative frame, episode 8 demonstrated yet again why WoA:NGA might be one & done. Prefaced with China Chow cheese “Art has a rich history of exposing the dualities in life”; the challenge was to “Create a piece of art with opposing themes.” A vague art-speak-y start… not too bad- then the artists were paired off and assigned their themes. Yuck. The complexities of dualism and opposition were just some intellectual padding for an “Order & Chaos”, “Male & Female”, and “Heaven & Hell” cliché battle royale.

The teams were- Nicole (Order) & Abdi (Chaos), Miles (Male) & Jaclyn (Female), and Mark (Heaven) & Pereguine (Hell). The team aspect was puzzling with so few contestants remaining. To keep the competition lively, each person was responsible for there own word: i.e. Miles (Male), Jaclyn (Female). The overall piece’s success was still reliant on a compatibility between the two works, but blame could be, (and was) easily parsed and designated.

All three teams participated in crit, and while the art work was still abysmal, the all-inclusive extended-format crit showed a lot of potential for what a televised art critique could be: something WoA:NGA has been all too shy in portraying.

Guest judging this week was contemporary dynamo Ryan McGuiness. McGuiness is perhaps the most “relevant” artist to appear on the show to date. China Chow introduced him as an “art world sensation”, and upon seeing R.McG, Miles began gushing. It was exciting to see such a “hot” artist. It made the show feel like a destination instead of a rest stop. Ryan unfortunately acted slimey enough to answer the question “Why would HE do that show?” “Oh that’s it. He seems to be a D-bag.”

Miles and Jaclyn, Male & Female, made the most syncopated (and masochistic) piece of art and won the challenge. Miles made something elegant and sparse, and convinced (didn’t take much) Jaclyn to paint a portrait of herself masturbating. I know Jaclyn has a rockin’ bod. We all know and love this, it’s fine, really. I just cannot believe how foolproof the Tit Offensive has been. Tits are to Work of Art what bacon is to Top Chef. Might taste a little greasy, but they’re eatin’ it up. The judges viewed Miles’ genteel construction as feminine and Jaclyn’s bluntness as masculine, even though their declared intentions were the exact opposite. This incongruity was mentioned in discussing the “feminine power” claimed to have been flexed in Jaclyn’s jerkoff painting. Jaclyn quickly applied feminist keywords in a scattershot of “empowering through our bodies”. Weak shit, and the panel didn’t blink twice. I like to think that Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn wouldn’t have accepted such drivel, but alas, she was on The Continent doing more important art stuff. Instead we had Ryan McGuiness ask Jaclyn Santos if she masturbates standing up. Classy, Ryan.

Order & Chaos was a disaster, a calamitously un-chaotic disaster. Nicole interpreted order through a clunky and graceless wooden machine. Her relating order as function, rather than visual, thoroughly baffled Abdi. Abdi’s touch and ability is sound, but he seems to have no idea what to do with these skills, especially under pressure, especially when trying to conceptualize. Abdi decided to do a painting based on “Plato’s Cave”, an allegory told to him by Nicole. Having no idea what to make, he went in this direction because he thought it would give his piece a conceptual framework to pair with Nicole’s. What he painted was a conventional biomorphic abstract painting that was anything but chaotic. Abdi painted it in his usual carnivalesque palette, which happens to be very similar to McGuiness’ own hallmark colorfulness. The whole panel looked at McGuiness, giving him the first swing at tearing down this vivid imposter. Ryan knocked it well enough but left the death stroke to Papa Bear (Jerry Saltz). “Unoriginal, uninspired, and amateurish” said Saltz, adding “I’m beginning not to trust your vision itself.”

Mark and Pereguine, Heaven & Hell, were an odd but congenial pair. They worked well together- Mark full of accommodation for Pereguine’s direction. Mark’s idea of heaven involves a topless woman (see: Jaclyn’s success), and Pereguine’s approach to hell involved a topless man. Mark suggested that Pereguine pose for him; she turned the proposition back on Mark and they both ended up using topless Mark as their subject. Working on two versions of the same photograph, Pereguine graffito’d the image demonically while Mark deified himself through photoshop. Illustrating Heaven and Hell in the hackneyed iconography of angels and demons was boring, bordering on lazy. Pereguine’s overworked craftiness showed the judges a modicum of effort which kept her safe from elimination. After weeks of tepid art marking, Mark was asked to leave.


A star-studded crowd came down to view this week’s “exhibition”- actresses Kyra Sedgewick & Samantha Mathis, designer Cynthia Rowley, and artist Terrence Koh.

Cracked China! The abrasively chill China Chow apparently had a soft spot for Mark. China was clearly choked up, and through a waivering voice she mournfully executed her hosting duties.

Jargon Montage! Bravo edits together some superfluous footage each week to form a 30 second content-nugget to cram in between commercials. This week’s was a rapid-fire compendium of Art Speak! Brilliant!×120.jpg

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Work of Art: Next Great Artist (Bravo) – Episode 1-7 Review Thu, 22 Jul 2010 09:01:39 +0000 Work of Art: Next Great Artist

Episode 7


Erik was gone: a new era awoke.

Last week’s messy departure of Erik seemed to trigger interpersonal stirrings that Work of Art: NGA desperately needed. Miles’ overt condescension ran afoul of his quiet, faux-naivety. This has created the first real social pivot for the show, wherein one can choose to align with Miles due to his clear acumen or distrust and dislike him based on a perceived flakiness of integrity. Most importantly it gives the contestants dilemma. Through conflict we are exposed to deeper, more complete version of the people on the show. Conflict and competition still rile the “real” from the contrived terrarium of “reality television”. Unfortunately, up to this point Work of Art:NGA has been rather light on discord and complexity, but the post-Erik group already appear to be shaping into more interesting characters. If we’re not going to see any good art, we might as well get to see some good reality television.

The post-Erik group is also noticeably concise as last week signified the halfway mark of the season. Of the 14 contestants, seven have been eliminated and seven remain.

Episode seven was chockfull of personal nuance that lent to understanding the contestants as people, or at least as characters on a show that you might find interesting. Keeping in step with our more intimate vantage, episode seven’s challenge was the first to really ask the artists to discuss and communicate themselves as people.

The Magnificent Seven (Abdi, Nicole, Jaclyn, Mark, Peregiune, Miles, and Ryan), were brought by Simon de Pury (via subway!) to The Children’s Museum of the Arts in SoHo. There it was revealed that their challenge was to “Create a piece inspired by the experiences that made you an artist.” What a wide-open and glorious assignment. The challenges to date have all been about the other; a stimulant outside the self- books, electronics, cars, the public, the other contestants. The minor catch of this self-derived work was the limiting of available materials to that of the children’s craft supplies at the museum. With the subject being the self, it would figure that the participants should all be experts. But when you ask densely realistic-minded artists (Mark, Abdi, Ryan) to convey an emotion or experience, they tend to illustrate it instead.

This week’s guest judge was painter Will Cotton. Cotton was chosen because his own work deals with candy and sweets that are often associated with youthful desire and impulse. Given the task, Cotton was a clever choice and suitable judge who was YET AGAIN given a neglectful introduction! Cotton was described as a New York City based painter while a slideshow of three of his images briefly clicked through. If this show is to help inform the general television audience on the art world, it’d be good to talk up the guests a bit more. Why not introduce him as “Will Cotton, recipient of the 2004 Princess Grace Foundation Award, Cotton has exhibited extensively throughout the United States and Europe including the San Francisco Museum of Art and the Seattle Art Museum. Represented by Mary Boone Gallery, Cotton’s is work is owned by museums as well as many prominent private collections.” While you’re at it, show a few more examples of his work, it wouldn’t kill ya. For all the powerful allusions of the aristocratic art world, the show startlingly lacks gravitas (save, Simon). It must start from the top down, and making “your” celebrities sound like they are big deals is step one.

Nicole and Pereguine came out of crit unscathed, and for the first time we had an all female winner’s circle. The first four episodes were won by the boys, but Nicole v Pereguine insures a third straight victory for the ladies. Nicole sandwiched all sorts of memory inducing objects between Styrofoam trays and hung them (somewhat like horizontal blinds) from a wall mounted apparatus. The resulting sculpture was vaguely familiar, but remained elusive. Pereguine really stepped in shit. Constructing a tabletop menagerie of candy and cigarettes in children-supplies-Technicolor, the piece looked like something Will Cotton might have made himself. Not only was it a well-made and thought provoking, it happened to be right in Will’s wheelhouse. Pereguine won, but as Simon pointed out during his studio visit, the winner will no longer get immunity. Winning now has no consequence, no prize or anything. It doesn’t make any sense.

Ryan, Jaclyn, and Abdi were singled out for their lack of achievement, although Mark deserved to be there as much as anyone. Asked to embody an early memory of artistic inclination, Mark made a children’s book about himself. It was hokey, mawkish craft. How things like this escape the judges is beyond me. Jaclyn was severely hamstrung in that she was born without a heart. Her icy-cold analytical tree of youth made Miles “want to put on a coat”. Abdi created a series of particularly boring drawings that actually stemmed from a rather interesting conceptual base. Abdi tried to render all the things classmates used to ask him to create. Many artists start out this way. Showing a particular faculty for replication, young artist are often asked to create upon demand for others. But given the show’s constraints on time for conceptualization and execution, another good idea was pressure cooked into a disfigured gesture. Instead showing a budding artist through the eyes of his community, it came across as commercial-grade illustration. Both Abdi and Jaclyn’s work was still better than Mark’s, unfortunately for Ryan, his piece was not. To overcome his prodigious skills (I suppose), Ryan, a righty, decided to draw left-handed. The result looked like work made by a child, rather than something inspired by a formative experience, and Ryan was asked to leave the show.

This was the best challenge thus far. Asking artists to create something that relates to themselves (you reflecting upon yourself), emotions and remembrances surface. The filters of memory often snag at peculiar angles. These facets can correlate neatly or stand in direct contradiction; either way there effect is the same. They elucidate the varied influences and gradation of humanity. Through this exercise we learned that Pereguine grew up on an art commune. That Nicole has a twin sister. That Mark comes from a background nearly bereft of traditional art resources and trappings. That beneath Jaclyn’s icy exterior there lay an un-friended little girl, eating her lunch alone in the bathroom. And that Ryan was raised a Jehovah’s Witness: a setting so stern that he now considers himself disowned by his mother. While knowing that fact about Ryan doesn’t make his piece any better or more relatable, I might be allowed to insinuate a relation between the rigidity of his upbringing to the narrowness of his artistic practice. And that’s good tv.


Ryan, on Miles, “I didn’t really notice it until very recently, but Miles is kinda like this big douchebag.”

China Chow’s crit dress- think something between a mummy wrapped in yellow gold and the Guggenheim painted canary.

J Diddy, on Abdi’s drawings, “A dictionary is more interesting than that piece.”

Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn’s excuse for not being on this week’s show, delivered by China Chow, “Jeanne is away this week curating a show in Europe.”×120.jpg

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Work of Art: Next Great Artist (Bravo) – Episode 1-6 Review Thu, 15 Jul 2010 07:35:17 +0000 Work of Art: Next Great Artist

Episode 6: Public Art

Work of Art: Next Great Artist’s sixth episode highlighted some of the series’ giant shortcomings, while finally delivering some real juicy nastiness.

Dividing the eight remaining Artestants (it’s like Cheftestant, but for art) into two randomly assigned teams of four, week six’s challenge was to work collaboratively on a publicly installed piece of art. The challenge of working together collapsed one team into reality tv bickering, while the challenge itself once again prompted the creation of dreadful art.

The exhibition venue was a parcel of land in right on the Tribec/Soho border. Administered by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC), the two teams had an amazing outdoor space to create, as China Chow (c-monster) put it, “a public art installation that has something to say”. Asking for the production of large scale, high-quality, site specific installation in two days- about 25-30 hours- is unrealistic. This is the main flaw barreling through Work of Art’s foundation. Some of the tasks fall outside of what could be reasonably done on a conventional reality competition show. Which begs the question; Why must it be such a conventional reality competition show? The rules of normative television production strangle the show, squeezing out ill-formed, half-baked art projects at a fast food pace.

Our guest judge was non-other than Yvonne Force Villareal, co-founder of Art Production Fund. I have no idea what exactly this woman or her organization do, due to yet another sloppy and vague introduction. A quick slideshow accompanied by a nebulous voice over description is the bare minimum. Maybe they should change the name of the show to “bare minimum”. All you have to do is stand there in a hyper-stylish yet off-putting getup looking super cool and we will assume that you are very powerful and knowledgeable in the ways of Art. Yvonne FORCE Villareal looked like Uma Thurman in My Super Ex-Girlfriend, down to the clunky black glasses and superhero scarf. Fierce, FORCE, I trust your art sensibility.

In the early going Nicole and Miles quickly emerged as their respective team’s vocal leader and project director. Nicole’s team created a large angular boulder surrounded by a series of smaller, similarly futuristic protrusions. The whole thing looked like bad set design from a b-movie alien planet. Bill Powers (BP) asked if it was “New Age”: Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn said its “too close to all the bad 60’s and 70’s minimalist works”. A good deal of the time China Chow has no idea what she is talking about. She thought it was reminiscent of “a modern Stonehenge”. The Mariano Rivera of art criticism, Jerry Saltz, closed the discussion with “it’s the kind of art that gives art a bad name”. And that’s what they had to say about the winning team! That’s right! Nicole’s grey scale space turds had nothing on the dysfunction going on over in Miles’ camp.

Once it became clear that this task would involve power tools and wood glue Miles perked right up, shed his dopey dourness and took grip of the project by the c-clamps. It is this very quality in Miles that his teammate Erik finds reprehensibly phony. The problem is that even if Erik is right, and he isn’t way off base, he’s way out of his league in calling out Miles. For all his pretense, Miles is considerably more advanced than Erik in conceptualizing and executing artwork. Erik, after having horrible suggestion after horrible suggestion shot down by moody Miles, finally flipped. He challenged the entire project and the character of its leader, Miles. Erik’s lack of articulation and problem solving skills devolved into a personal attack. His tirade was studded with gems like “typical art school crap”, “stuck up art pussy”, and the immortal “Miles is a total douche, but it’s exactly what I expected from trained artists who have their heads stuck up their asses.” Erik’s hot headed masculinity boiled over with a bout of abandoning the project to sulk and chain smoke. Even Miles’ brilliantly fabricated reclining perch could not save the team. They were up for elimination, and Erik was properly dismissed.

The quote of the night goes to my roommate who entered the living room with only about 20 minutes left in the show. Not privy to all the salacious infighting, she watched as both pieces were exhibited and explained. Upon conclusion, but before judging, she turned to me and said “Both things are terrible. Right?” Right. In fact, according to Saltz, the piece that gives all art a bad name was the more successful piece. Narrow resources utilized under strict time constraints, combined with poorly constructed premises is an incubator for bad art. Until these reigns are loosened, the show will continue to be a competition between bad and worse, instead of achievement versus excellence.×120.jpg

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Work of Art: Next Great Artist (Bravo) – Episode 1-5 Review Thu, 08 Jul 2010 09:02:17 +0000 Audi has long been recognized a trendsetter in automotive design and dedicated to exploring innovative ideas and making visions come true, which reflects the spirit of art. Being involved in cutting-edge events is a natural fit for Audi as a progressive premium brand.

I’m sorry, this Art Show blog seems to sound a lot like an Audi commercial?

Well, that is because the 5th episode of Work of Art: NGA was all about high-end Volkswagens.

The day began like any other… with a perfectly attired Swiss man (SdP) rousing the contestants at a brisk 5:30 in the morning. The contestants were brought downstairs and told to climb into a fleet of awaiting Audis and drive themselves to the next challenge. Their destination? The heart of Manhattan, home of some of the most amazing treasures held in the art capital of the world, and an Audi dealership. They went to the Audi dealership.

China Chow pointed out that “as the saying goes, ‘art imitates life’”. Thusly, logic holds that as they had just been forced to drive Audis to an Audi dealership, their challenge was to “Create a work of art based on your Audi experience.”

Joking aside, this is a pretty good challenge if you approach it the right way. All reality competition shows have product tie-ins. The art crowd might find this overly crass but they’re just going to have to get over it; this ain’t PBS. Their “Audi experience” was anything and everything that happened to them that day. It was even stressed to them that this was an “open” challenge. Most art stems from a singular kernel, expounded out brilliantly through process and contemplation. All they had to do was pick any color, any emotion, any form, any thought that they had that day. Instead, six of the nine artists decided to do stuff about cars.

Abdi cast himself as a racecar driver. Mark painted a map. Peregine made fun of Audi (well played). Ryan painted himself as a douchebag in an Audi. Jamie Lynn made a hubcap monstrosity. And Erik painted something that resembled a memorial to a girl who died in a traffic accident (I mean that in a sweet way). Needless to say, they were the worst things created for the challenge.

Jaclyn, Miles, and Nicole took the assignment broadly and drew from their experience, not from finely crafted German engineering. Jaclyn and Miles were brought back to crit with the two most successful pieces. Miles, at the onset of the challenge took a nap, again. He claims that his OCD overwhelms him, and he needs separation. Whatever the reason may be, his technique pays off. Staring at cars tends to make you think about cars. When Miles awoke he dreamed of a city where he wouldn’t be forced into shiny rooms filled with other people’s status symbols. He created a quieting installation that echoed the solitary corners within urban complexity. Jaclyn stepped out of her box this week. In lieu of pictures of her rockin’ bod, she showed pictures of men ogling her rockin’ bod. She obscured the men’s faces and set mirrored sheets between some of the photos creating a network of viewership that was deftly engaging. The person in the photo views the person taking the photo and the person in the gallery then views that. Due to the mirrored insets the viewer standing in the gallery views themselves in the act of viewing- placing them in the photograph through the role of the obscured face (someone who was similarly caught viewing). This piece resolved some of Jaclyn’s perceived contradictions that I touched upon in my Episode 4 article. Prevailing American culturalization teaches Jaclyn that its her job to be a pretty girl. She hates her job, but refuses to quit. Some transcend, others embrace their precepts with lustful scorn, Jaclyn is the latter. Through this piece I learned something about Jaclyn, and the judges did too. She rightfully won the challenge, and receives immunity from next week’s elimination.

The worst of the worst were Mark, Ryan, and Jamie Lynn; they were brought back to crit and asked to answer for their crimes. Sitting in judgment was guest artist Richard Phillips. Just appeared- he was never mentioned on the show before crit began. Unlike Kessler and Serrano, Phillips had no thematic connection to the task and was further undermined by a disrespectfully brief bio. He, like us, was forced to view some horrible work, and was deliciously honest in describing what he saw.

Mark (the one photographer in the bunch) painted and painted and painted away at a geometric-ish grid that he likened to a map. Peregine commented earlier (before crit) that it looked like “hotel art”, a sentiment hardened by Jerry Saltz during crit when (thinking of calling it hotel art himself) said it “could get lost in a hotel room”. Ryan painted a triptych of himself looking cool and driving an Audi. It was atrocious. Not only was it sledgehammer-on-the-head, but it conveyed all the douchebagocity of Audi ownership. White privilege mixed with cool shades and fast cars spells jagoff. Judge Bill Powers told Ryan “You painted yourself as a poseur.” JSmoove pronounced it “a dead work of art” while Richard Phillips thought that it should be thrown out. Jamie Lynn made a shitstorm of poster art similar to what a teenager might do with their friends during a slumber party to celebrate passing their road test. It consisted of small Jamie Lynn caricatures dancing around the rim of a Technicolor hubcab with poorly done cityscapes lodged in the spokes. Richard Phillips warmed up with, “(its) one of the more difficult pieces to digest” before settling on “There is no saving grace for the work.” After being raked over for the shallow and amateurish content and execution of her piece Jamie Lynn was left speechless. She had no defense, only muttering “I really don’t have much to say. Everything (meaning their criticisms) makes perfect sense.”

Jamie Lynn, your work didn’t work for us. Please pack your knives and go.


Debuting to the public through mentioning and reinforcing the term “Hotel Art” as a nasty art diss.

Richard Phillips perfect art-guy sweep-over hairdo.

China Chow needing to have illustrated puns explained to her.

Richard Phillips, in awarding her this week’s victory decrees “Jaclyn, you’ve succeeded in defeating the male gaze!”

Simon de Pury (SdP), in his studio visit with the puritanical Jamie Lynn, upon seeing her dancing figures, “Dancing is one of the greatest activities on earth I can think of, at least of the ones we can speak of on TV.”

# of Koons references, 0.

# of Hirst references, 0.

# of Bob Ross references, 1.

winnahs losahs

episode 1 miles amanda
episode 2 miles trong
episode 3 john judith
episode 4 abdi nao, john
episode 5 JACLYN JAMIE LYNN×120.jpg

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Work of Art: Next Great Artist (Bravo) – Episode 1-4 Review Thu, 01 Jul 2010 15:22:18 +0000 “They look like little kid dicks.”
-Peregine Hoing

Did that shock you? If not shocking, at the very least it’s not the type of thing you hear coming from your television on a run-of-the-mill Wednesday night. Episode 4 of Bravo’s Work of Art: NGA (or as it’s commonly known, “The Art Show” -much better name), promised to be “shocking”, and came through fairly well on that promise.

The warning label that appeared before episodes 2 and 3- “THE FOLLOWING PROGRAM MAY CONTAIN MATERIAL THAT IS UNSUITABLE FOR YOUNG VIEWERS. PARENTAL DISCRETION IS ADVISED.”, was exhausted after episode 4’s shock challenge. It was shown every time the show returned from commercials, totaling seven times, including before the little 30 second show-nugget Bravo drops into excessively long commercial blocks. The warnings were apropos considering the strong sexual content of the work, and as any good deviant knows, did nothing but draw more attention, more viewers.

Brought in to oversee the debauchery was none other than ol’ Piss Christ himself, Andres Serrano. Guest judge Andres Serrano is best know for his 1987 photograph “Piss Christ”, a work that was funded, in part, by the National Endowment for the Arts. The issue of Federal funding being used to create work that some deemed offensive made Serrano a star. It also happened to cripple public arts funding, spinning it into a by proxy shell game of siphoning money through different channels until blame could only be found with those who invited it. Moral: sometimes when you poke the bear, the bear pokes back. Annnnnnyway, Serrano was brought in to inspire fearlessness amongst the contestants. His rallying cry to the artists was a shit-filled rant, which lightened the mood and smartly showed them that they could be free; that there were no repercussions.

The easiest way to raise an eyebrow is to sex it up, and seven of the eleven artists did just that. Jaclyn (nude pics), Mark (child abuse), Erik (child abuse), John (auto-fellatio), Peregine (syphilitic models), Ryan (tranny facial), and Miles (cum-stained Mickey Mouse) all played the sex game to varying degrees of success. Only Jamie Lynn (religion), Abdi (race), Nao (gross), and Nicole (gross) chose to stimulate without evoking the cock.

Retained for crit were Erik, Nao, Abdi, Jamie Lynn, John, and Jaclyn, and as a special treat for viewers and special “shock” for the artists’, two contestants would be sent home. Boy howdy, was it ever a shock when they revealed which two!

Singled out for achievement were Jaclyn and Abdi. Jaclyn (as she seems to solve every problem) stripped down and took naked pictures of herself, while Abdi made angry head bombs. Jaclyn’s work was particularly strong because she set out a tin of markers to encourage visitors to deface and demean the photos of her sweet sweet body. Problem was the idea for that was not her own. The completion of her work through conceptual processes came, from of all places, Erik (who up to this point has shown a complete lack of insight or profundity). It was also well-noted by Ryan that Jaclyn’s main flaw seems to be not the work she creates, but the way by which she carries herself. Making art that explores gender issues (the male gaze and all that jazz) one would think that an artist interested in such things wouldn’t parade about like a vamped-up tit show. Or if they did, that they would be acutely aware of this paradox in order to exploit and explore it. Jaclyn seems to be happy just flashing her cans, and while we all enjoy it, it proves antithetical to everything she creates. Because of this, Abdi, a two-time crit runner-up won the week and will have immunity going into week five.

Erik, Nao, Jamie Lynn, and John were deemed least shocking and faced a 50/50 shot of not making it to next week. Erik created an image that could be best described as a poster for Catholic Priest molestation. Continuing his unwavering streak of thoughtlessness, the image added absolutely nothing to the discourse of the content, and was in no way shocking. Jamie Lynn did a nicely drafted Last Supper inspired cartoon. Presented to a panel that includes a man who dumps crucifixes into vats of urine, this “outrage” directed at religion was benign if not wholly pleasant. She was ravaged for her niceties by both Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn who said “As you’re describing it, it sounds at its best like a New Yorker cover.” And by Serrano who added “Not everyone can be shocking. You have to have a strong character for that. I don’t think you really have it.”
Even though Jamie Lynn severely deserved it, having someone you revere in the art world look you straight in the face and say “kid, I don’t think you really have it” has to be a nightmare come true.

John created a large, childish drawing of a man performing auto-fellatio (i.e. a man sucking his own penis). Serrano has seen this done, even photographed it himself and thought that the amateurish rendering lessened the image’s blow. In another spellcheck oversight, John unfortunately crowned the piece with the words “Auto-Follatio”. Upon seeing it China Chow feigned disgust while exclaiming “He has an awfully long penis”, while Jerry Saltz thought it would have been better had John photographed himself committing the act of self-satisfaction. On a personal note, I hope to God that one day I will submit something for approval and get a response of “It would be better if it were a photograph of you sucking your own dick.” Nao sulked around the gallery in some sort of nebulously gross garbage-y attire. Serrano was put off by the performance, which he registered as some degree of “shock”. But Jerry Saltz picked it out for what it was. The piece had no meaning beyond a vague disgustingness, prompting J Dawg to group it with other “adolescent, mixed with shock-your-grandma Performance Art.”

So here we have two artists who “shocked” poorly, Nao and John, and two artists who demonstrate a clear inadequacy for range and execution, Jamie Lynn and Eric. Jamie Lynn and Erik’s works were in no way “shocking” and failed the task by every measure. Remaining on the show for at least one more week will be… Jamie Lynn and Erik! Nao and John were sent packing despite being adept and conversant visual artists. It simply made no sense. If Nao can rile even a doubt in Serrano’s mind she should be kept. As for John, you couldn’t even show what he created on tv! His piece, the entire night, was one large field of pixilated flesh tones. For that alone he should have been rewarded. How does that book covered with your pirated art taste now, Parot?


China Chow’s dismissal preface, “The art world is fickle. The only rule in art is what works, and none of your pieces did!”

Hearing Simon de Pury say “That’s good shit!”

China Chow’s absurd wardrobe of haute couture dresses, clearly an SJP connection.

China Chow’s legitimate shock over Peregine skewing her fashions in her STD riddled fashion sketches.

Nao creating her performance attire mainly out of jumbo Utrect bags.

Simon de Pury confessing to Miles (and everyone else on earth who might care to know) that he experienced his first erection while looking at a Renoir.

Coming out to see the exhibition of “shock art”, actor Steve Coogan.

That’s right, THE Steve Coogan.

# of Koons references, 0.
# of Hirst references, 0.

And for those keeping track at home, the five eldest artists were the first five kicked off.×120.jpg

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Work of Art: The Next Great Artist (Bravo) – Episode 1-3 Thu, 24 Jun 2010 08:35:36 +0000 In what could only be characterized as a giant leap backwards for critical artistic thought, episode 3 of Work of Art: NGA asked its artists (and viewers) to judge a book by its cover.

Firstly, why do we just jump into challenges? Unlike most other competition based reality shows there is no warm-up task, personal color, or any other attribute that might make this feel like a well rounded show. Nope. Straight to the action.

Week 3’s challenge was to make cover art for a famous novel. Six novels were randomly distributed to the 12 remaining artists, resulting in two covers per book. The contrasting interpretations were played down as direct competition, but the random pairings proved interesting yet again. Meeting for a third straight week, Abdi and Miles both had Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and in a week one rematch Jaclyn and Judith locked horns over Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

Miles chose to use most of his time (8 hours) to read Frankenstein. Abdi played around with many mediums before scrapping it all and dashing off a composition in less than an hour. Both were safely on to next week, and their actions reinforced the frivolity of this challenge. The real fireworks came from Jaclyn & Judith.

Only 5 artists were brought back for crit, Jaclyn, Judith, Mark, John, and Peregine. Mark and John were the top of the class, while the women fought it out in toilet time. Photographer Mark had an easy go of it, being well-versed in commercial assignments, photoshop, and print layouts. His Dracula cover was rendered in black and white with dripping blood red. This professional, if not boring cover had all the components of book design and lacked any kind of fine art sensibility. John skillfully brought H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine (1895) into the dayglow present. His cubist spaceship was a 1970’s meets 2000’s pink and lavender affair- it was easily the best work done and won him the challenge. His reward? Not immunity (as in the first two episodes), instead Penguin Publishing will magnanimously use John’s image for the cover! Well done Penguin! A free book (expired publishing rights) with free cover art- now if you could only find someone to donate the paper…

Peregine, Jaclyn and Judith were deemed the worst this week, although it could be argued that all of the designs, except John’s, were unabashed failures. Peregine’s fanciful Time Machine was a pretty enough construction, but had nothing to do with the book. While Peregine made a confused and misleading arrangement, Jaclyn and Judith fell flat on their faces.

Jaclyn is obsessed with the visual pleasure associated with visual art. Due to her own middling attractiveness, this leads Jaclyn to putting herself in all her work; even if that means her posing topless for the cover of Pride and Prejudice. Jaclyn was so preoccupied with herself that she actually misspelled Jane Austen’s name on her piece, writing Austin instead. I mean, what could be worse than that? How about spelling the words wrong on purpose? Enter- Judith Braun.

Judith was super upset from the start (rather rightly so). Saying that the challenge “Felt more like a job” adding “I’m a FINE artist”, Judith’s mindset was pronouncedly negative. Her indignity manifested itself in a bafflingly large and inscrutable book cover that held no appeal to anyone. Judith defended her decision to spell out “Edirp and Ecidujerp” (Pride and Prejudice backwards) as an intellectual one. Even if that did make sense (which it didn’t), the aesthetics of the piece were just horrid, prompting judge Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn to volunteer “I have not seen pink look so drab in a long time.” Doing a bad job out of incompetence is one thing, doing it out of spite is another, and for that Judith was kicked off the show.

Judith’s piece was indefensible, but her position was not. This challenge is a worst-case-scenario for the “Art Show” naysayers, and it only took 3 weeks to get here. Tasking a group of supposed Fine artists to execute commercial illustrations is a joke. Why don’t you ask them to paint a house? Does that not also require a strong palate and a faculty for craftsmanship? Illustration, typography, layout and design are all tools that an artist can exercise in employ of a greater whole. Forcing the use of these modes for the expressed purpose of generating a commercial utilitarian object is not art. The show’s creators knew this, and bent over backwards trying to justify its validity. Pointing out Damien Hirst’s recent cover art for Darwin’s On The Origin of Species at the challenge’s start, they revisited the notion of “Real” artists doing book illustration at the end stating, “Picasso did it”, “Miro did it”. In actuality, artists and writers have had long-standing relationships, lending their talents in back and forth in a generally collaborative nature. Those reciprocal exchanges were born of mutual admiration, not complete happenstance. The artists were not asked to riff on themes in the books, the periods, or the emotions contained therein. They were told to make a cover. They were assigned homework. Like most artists Judith hates homework, so she did an extra shitty job. I’ve always believed that there was a difference between failing a course, and earning an F. Congratulations Judith for a well earned F, cya on the Lower East Side.

PS- Special Guest Judge Jonathan Santlofer (Artist/Author) condemned Peregine’s piece saying “Just burn this. It looks like an arts and crafts project.” So lemme get this straight, illustration is art, but arts and crafts aren’t? Calling a piece of art “illustration” isn’t an insult, but calling it craft is? Bullshit.

PPS- Special Guest Judge Jonathan Santlofer (Artist/Author) describing Nicole’s piece “Its sorta like real art. I don’t know that it’s like a real book cover.” So maybe there is a giant difference, moron.


Jaclyn fumbling in front of Simon de Pury, when asked if she’s read Pride and Prejudice responds, “I read the synopsis.”

Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn on Jaclyn’s amateurish figuration, “I am seeing her in a live model drawing class, in middle school!”

Simon de Pury telling a particularly salient, and downright hysterical Dr. Zhivago / Dog joke.

Preparing to drop the axe China Chow prefaces, “The art world is fickle. Your work would put these classics out of print!”

# of Koons references, 0.

# of Hirst references, 1.×120.jpg

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Work of Art: The Next Great Artist (Bravo) – Episode 1-2 Thu, 17 Jun 2010 08:40:06 +0000 Work of Art: Next Great Artist

Episode 2: The Shape of Things to Come



That was the disclaimer that aired before the 2nd ever episode of Bravo’s Work of Art!! If we could only get a warning like that on high school art classes we’d finally have a country worth a damn!!!!

Of course, the promised outrage slipped timidly by. Week one winner Miles made giant concrete assholes. Big whoop. But the notice raises serious questions about what will be allowed to air and how compatible the genres of art and television actually are.

In a nod to its own place within this space of art and television, the week two challenge had the artists assemble sculptures from an appliance graveyard littered with televisions. There were plenty of other electronics- audio components, computer guts and the like, but television was king. A television show about art, asking its competitors to make art out of televisions can go one of two ways: super-cute (Peregrine Hoing), or, blaringly coy (Trong Nguyen).

The “Special Guest Judge” was artist John Kessler (Mixed Media Sculptor). Kessler is the perfect kind of upper-mid level artist that this show was meant to highlight. While the weekly challenges expose the public to a pressurized version of improvisational art making, the “Guest Judges” stand in front of a body of work, a lifetime of effort and accomplishment. To borrow again from Top Chef, if you might want to go to a contestant’s restaurant, you’d definitely want to go to the judge’s. The stars are the guests, the experts, the masters. They are what the contestants aspire to become, and Kessler is an admirable choice especially given the challenge’s electronic/assemblage objective.

After the art has been made and exhibited only six of the thirteen artists are asked to remain in the gallery for crit. They are invited to do so with the ambiguous line “We’d like to hear more about your piece.” Nothing quite parallels the exacting unease as being asked to explain oneself. At that moment your fate rests on your tongue; you, and everyone staring at you is acutely keen to this. Upon the outset of crit we are unaware of which 3 artists were selected for praise, and which 3 are to take a drubbing. Once the tongues get flapping the designations are soberingly clear.

For a second straight week both Abdi and Miles made it into the top three, along with Nicole (the first woman to do so). Abdi and Miles seem to have a plot brewing. They are the two youngest contestants and in addition to their technical prowess both share good looks, dynamism, and natural artistic skill. Abdi created a well (enough) articulated humanoid figured with a television for a head. Ignoring, or at least obfuscating the challenge’s parameters, Miles created a sculptural installation of a bedroom set. Consisting of a motherboard patterned mattress, spray painted red headboard (of sorts) and the aforesaid puckered anus side tables, Miles’ work came to life as he went to sleep. As the exhibition opened, Miles crawled up in a little ball and slept on the bed. This act of performance sent the room into a twitter and gave Miles back to back wins in the season’s first two shows. Miles’ scattered, fractured, creative soul seems to snap back into razor-sharp intellectualism at the drop of a hat. Right now I find it hard to think of a more rewarding showdown than a Miles v Abdi finale. Pitting Abdi’s stylized, Populist, figuration against Miles’ well-made conceptualism would be a fitting debate for the public forum.

Putting the criticism in crit were Judith, Jamie Lynn, and Trong. Judith divorced meaning from material in an overly-compositional, diorama-like tabletop design. Jamie Lynn created her own interior tableau that particularly irked Jerry Saltz. When Jamie Lynn explained her thought process J Diddy dismissively quipped, “Oh, that’s what it is.” He went on to abolish her whole endeavor with the vicious “I actually think you’re not making art here.” Good shit J Diddy, keep it comin’. Trong opted for a literal brand of conceptualism in which he painted four televisions white, and painted text on their screens. The result was amateurish highbrow. It did not elevate the components past their objecthood, and the savvy art panel saw right through it. In our first confirmed case of bus-throwing, Miles was so unimpressed as to volunteer his own interpretation of Trong’s piece during crit saying it was “distractingly boring”. And that’s from a guy whose own art puts him to sleep! But Trong’s death knell came from five little letters: WWTFD. Painted on the largest of the televisions, WWTFD, stood for “What Would Thomas Friedman Do”. As Trong went on to explain, Thomas Friedman is a conceptually based sculptor who often employs everyday objects in constructing his work. When faced with the prospect of transmuting everyday objects himself, Trong could only come up with a hollow art joke. Nao squeaked off the chopping block last week, but kicked off in episode two, the mighty Trong has fallen.

With the dismissal of Trong comes a strong message to the thoroughly art-indoctrinated viewer- its not that kinda show. While insider-isms run rampant through the art world, this is the tv world. If we are to broaden our horizons, seek new connections with an audience beyond Chelsea, Miami, Basel, we must stop making jokes that only graduate students half-giggle at. It is references like WWTFD that make people outside of this niche culture view it as hoity and often downright insulting. Galleries and museums sometimes now serve as a venue for insulting, assaulting; television almost never does, and Bravo’s gonna keep it that way.


Simon de Pury’s awkwardly-casual Hogan’s Heroes-like salute when leaving a room.

Prince Lumber being the hardware store of choice over big-box artistic stalwarts Home Depot, Lowes, and Ace.

During Judith’s rambling on about her work’s supposed meaning, Jerry Saltz signals for a timeout. Mercifully, Judith complies.

# of Koons references, 1.×120.jpg

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Work of Art: The Next Great Artist (Bravo) – Episode 1-1 Review Thu, 10 Jun 2010 12:38:24 +0000 The world of reality television revolves around the all important “Throwing Under the Bus”, the positioning of oneself into an advantage to the expressed detriment of another. Bravo’s new reality competition, Work of Art: Next Great Artist, searches for the top bus thrower in the world of contemporary art- an art world that is dominated and orchestrated by some of the best bus throwers around: A match made in heaven! After all, art is for arguing, and when you “like” something you uphold what it represents. When art is judged (either by reality television, or within the viewer’s mind) the losing piece(s) get thrown under the bus in favor of your taste, your vision, your ideology.

I’ve been a Top Chef fan for years and have always thought that if reality tv could de-mystify the ultra-elite, cloistered and prohibited world of fine dining, similar exposure could help ameliorate the same class boundaries that cage fine art. Work of Art: NGA, follows narrowly along Top Chef‘s trajectory, which is a good thing and not at all a surprise as they are both Magical Elves and Bravo produced. The show is also produced by SJP herself- Sarah Jessica Parker is right out in front, making a cameo early on in ep1 adding familiar glitz to an unfamiliar art landscape.

The host and judge is China Chow, whose stated qualifications are that she grew up in a family of collectors (rich), and that she knows/knew Warhol, Basquiat, and Schnabel (famous). The other members of the judges table, which they call “crit” (WONDERFUL), are Art Advisor and Gallerist Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn, Bill Powers, co-owner of Half-Gallery and Editor at Large of Purple Magazine, and The Venerable Jerry Saltz. Jerry Saltz is the well-known senior art critic at New York Magazine. Touted as being a two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist, Jerry has a lot of friends on Facebook and gives the panel serious clout. Also along for the ride is art world auction house bigwig Simon de Pury. De Pury is neither host nor judge, his self-defined purpose is to be there for “help, advice, and most of all, full moral support”. A miraculous get for such a hysterical role, de Pury will be the stuffed-shirt cheerleader with the adorable European accent, and should prove to be loads of entertainment in the weeks to come.

The 14 contestants are competing for $100,000 (courtesy Prismacolor) and a solo show at the twice said “World Famous” Brooklyn Museum. Not too shabby. The 14 artists run the gamut from the amazingly rough-hewn and self-taught Erik Johnson, to polished insiders Nao Bustamante and Trong Nguyen. The youngest in the group is 22 year old Abdi Farah, oldest belongs to 61 year old Judith Braun. With only 5 of the artists being older than 32 (two of those five being Nao, and Trong), the “Next Great Artist” should be suitably young. Unlike the art world, a full half of the artists are women. Sadly paralleling the art word, only 4 of the 14 artists are not white.

The episode began with a group show of the contestants self portraits. The 14 artists were then paired off for their first elimination challenge. The challenge was to create a portrait of the artist that they were paired with, and they were given a scant 13 hours to complete this piece of work.

Landing in the top 3 were Mark Velasquez with an aggressive photoshoped photograph, Abdi Farah with a dynamic and large flame-orange oil painting, and Miles Mendenhal with a black and white silkscreen collage of Nao. The 23 year old Miles took the victory and earned immunity in next week’s challenge. If Top Chef dictum holds form, Miles, as the winner of the first challenge is in good shape for the long haul. He is as pretty as could be, young, virile, with a twist of OCD to give him that real artsy flavor. Miles’ created a homemade darkroom for silkscreen exposure, an accomplishment that downright titillated Simon de Pury. Miles’ instinctual fervor masks a coy and learned practice. So much so that Jerry Saltz commenting on the piece’s execution, conceptualization, and references said that they were “all good moves”. Let’s put it this way, Miles is so money that when SJP cameo-ed out to star-strike the contestants, he was the only one who had the wherewithal to pretend to not know who she was. It’s that kind of playful flightiness that will carry Miles into the finale.

The bottom three were Amanda Williams who did a painfully boring, thinly painted patterned field, the aforementioned self-taught Erik Johnson with his terrifying John Wayne Gacy-like portrayal of the seemingly good-natured Mark, and the headstrong Nao Bustamante’s over-conceptualized mapping of Miles’ movements landed her in the basement. Nao is made for tv. She’s older and more successful than nearly everyone on the show, and knows it, and wants you to know it too. In “crit”, as she was being roundly knocked for ignoring the traditional associations of portraiture, Nao said “I’m not responsible for your experience of my work”. Nao is good for at least three of these insensitive self-aggrandizing outbursts per episode, MINIMUM- reality tv gold! She’s not good at hearing criticism but loves dishing it out, loves it. Unsolicited criticism is a hallmark of a reality tv super-villain, and Nao has star written all over her. Or to use Nao’s own words (which I’m sure she’d prefer), “I feel like I’ve already won, and so I think that I can be very generous with my criticism.” How right she is.

Keeping with realty show convention, Amanda Williams, an older, minority contestant (and the only self-described Abstract artist) was the first to go. Amanda, we hardly knew thee.

Work of Art: Next Great Artist seems to be loaded with all the components for a successful series. Eccentric competitors, highfalutin arbiters of taste and worth, and big-money big-fame guests abound. While the show will undoubtedly help the commercial prospects of the artists featured, only time will tell if the monastically devout Serious art community will embrace these cable tv contestants. Even a solo show at the “World Famous” Brooklyn Museum (who occasionally dip into Pop with their own Star Wars and Rock and Roll exhibitions) might not be enough to mask the smell of television fame. On the plus side, $100,000 can erase your graduate school debt, maybe, or at least pay off most of it.

I have to think that somewhere out in L.A. Jeffrey Deitch is rolling over in his grave.


Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn on Amanda Williams’ piece, “It looks like very good wallpaper.”

Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn on Erik Johnson’s piece, “There’s no excuse for bad painting!”.

Contestant Peregrine Hoing describing herself, “I’m really into lilies right now… and hermaphrodites.”

Contestant Erik Johnson having finished early suggesting that he and Simon de Pury go to a strip club.

Work of Art: Next Top Artist signature phrase, when at “Crit” and nearing elimination, “Its been said that good art is not what it looks like, but how it makes you feel. Your work didn’t make us feel anything!” Adding, “Your work of art didn’t work for us!”.

# of Koons references, 2.

List of Contestants

Abdi Farah, 22, Figurative Painter/ Sculptor

Jaclyn Santos, 25, Realist Painter

Amanda Williams, 34, Abstract Painter

Mark Velasquez, 32, Photographer

Trong Nguyen, 38, Installation Artist

Miles Mendenhall, 23, Installation Artist

Nao Bustamante, 46, Performance Artist

Ryan Shultz, 26, Realist Painter

Peregrine Hoing, 32, Painter/ Sculptor

Jamie Lynn Henderson, 24, Painter/ Illustrator

John Parot, 39, Painter

Judith Braun, 61, Mixed Media

Erik Johnson, 30, Painter

Nicole Nadeau, 25, Industrial Design/ Sculptor×120.jpg

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