Work of Art: Next Great Artist (Bravo) Episode 1-9 Review

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.

HIGHLIGHTS:

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.

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