A Difficult Choice

Tearing Up

The Drama's Done

An Alternate Universe


Tiny Coincidences

Portrait of an Artist

The Town

Main Street Meets Mean Street

The Secret

On Getting Naked and Hitting the Streets

Selling Out or Buying In?

Do You Believe in Magic?

Elimination Heartbreak

Figure Eights and Fast Lanes

Art Girls (and Boys) Gone Wild!

Eye of the Tiger Penis

The Temptation of Simon

Art (and Defeat) in the Streets

Night Owl

All the Art That's Fit to Paint

Riddle of the Spanx

The Gray Lady isn't Just for Men

Bangs, Toggle Sweaters, and Kids

The Fame

Child's Play

Kids' Stuff

How Could You?

Sex is in the Air

The Essence of the Competition

Pop Touched Me, Too

One Enchanted Evening

What's Poop Got to Do with It?

For Your Entertainment

Scat-Art-Logical Humor

When Simon Met Sucklord

It's Baaaa-aaaack!

Back to School

Isn't It Ironic?

Art History

The Final Crit

A Difficult Choice

Simon didn't envy the judges this week.

To console anyone in these sad post-Sucklord times of Work of Art, I can highly recommend the brilliant toy 'Jerk of Art' that he produced after his elimination from the show. I am most grateful to China Chow who brought it to my attention, and I of course instantly had to add it to my collection!

The floor of the gallery looked stunning at the beginning of this challenge with all the parts that constitute the Fiat 500 neatly laid out. The original Cinquecento and its very cool 21st century version were also on display and producers, artists, host, and mentor all took turns to sit behind its wheel. It was intriguing to observe which pieces were chosen by which contenders. Dusty is the one who instantly went after the parts that I would have chosen: the steering wheel and the wheels and tires.

During my studio visit, which as always happened quite early after the artists had settled back in the studio, I could not help but express my slight disappointment that Dusty was not using them for one of the works on a fairly grand scale he had accustomed us to so far in this competition. Based on this reaction he chose to start from scratch and do a piece using the tires of the car that had great presence in the gallery. It did not land him in the top two this time, but got him safely to the next episode. Michelle was the first artist I started my studio visit with. Seeing no parts of the cars being used at this stage but mostly balloons arranged in a fun way prompted me to comment that it looked more like a work in answer to the children's challenge. When I saw the exhibition I was sad to see that she had started from scratch to produce a work that was clearly less good than what she was initially working on. It is only watching the episode that I realized she had also been working on the steamy windows of the car. That work showed true promise, and I was even sadder that she did not select that work for the gallery show. During the POP challenge she had chosen to ignore my comments that her idea with the Coke can was not very original. She went with it nevertheless, but it did land her in the bottom group. Maybe it is that experience that made her less sure of herself this time. So when Young told her to go with the 'Herbie' project, she followed his advice. Sarah Kabot's work was already well advanced by the time of my studio visit. She felt very much at ease with this particular challenge given the fact that her father had been in the car business. As we all know, judging art is a highly subjective thing. When my adult children were small, I would ask them after every museum visit to buy three postcards. Having to make that choice forced them to look at exhibitions with a particular attention. As a collector and professional in the art market, I cannot help entering any room and not instantly making a choice in my head of which work I would like to acquire for myself. Of all the works done by the artists for this challenge, it is without hesitation Sarah's work that I would have picked. I was happy to see that it earned her a spot in the top two even if not the victory.

Sara Jimenez also produced a very poetic and successful work, which not only got her the victory in this challenge but also the $25k prize money. I am so happy for her since she is the artist that took by far the greatest risk by venturing way out of her comfort zone and very far from the watercolors she had accustomed us to.

Another artist who took a big risk was Kymia. Her idea to just take the car's key and pulverize it was bold, but in her case it was a risk that could have seriously backfired. When I saw the exhibition and realized that her box had malfunctioned and that you could not see anything when looking into it, I thought that this was it for Kymia. I was very sad about it as I considered the work that got her the victory in the children's challenge -- an outstanding work of art by any standard and by very far the best work produced by any contender in this season of the competition so far. I guess that it must be considerations of this kind that may have swayed the judges to keep her in and saved her.I can very much sympathize with China Chow, Jerry Saltz, and Bill Powers regarding the extremely difficult choice they were faced with when having to decide which artist from the bottom three would have to leave. Not having been part of the deliberations, I am not in a position to judge fairly, but for the very first time I disagreed with their choice of who would have to leave. I was relieved that Kymia was saved, but surprised that Michelle was the one asked to pack her things and that Lola was the one making it to the next round. I am sad about each elimination, but particularly with Michelle's as the quality of her work already at the time of the initial casting for the show had impressed me. I am also sad that my comments prompted her to do one better work and one much worse, which ultimately did her in. Luck was on Lola's side and helped her to make it to the next challenge. Just as it is people in any profession, luck is also an essential ingredient in any artist's career.

Tiny Coincidences

Simon catches up on Episodes 8 and 9.

Since my day job keeps me slightly busy, I have fallen behind with my comments on the current season.

The last two episodes were the most fun to watch and of course decisive in determining who would make it to the finale.

Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn has a proven track record of a great eye and being able to spot great talent early. She had a very positive and strong influence on the panel of judges during Season 1. Had she been a guest judge for Episode 9 instead of 8, the outcome might have produced a slightly different trio of finalists. 

In Episode 8 Sarah Kabot produced work that sold for the least in the street and impressed the least in the gallery competition. Her elimination therefore did not surprise and did not lead to a lot of discussion. Kymia took a risky path by taking a conceptual and clearly noncommercial approach with her exchange of signatures. From the selling point of view she was second to last and beat Sarah Kabot only by a single dollar. What saved her is that the judges liked it and that she had decided to take Dusty as a team mate. Dusty was the third best street vendor which boosted their team's financial tally. It shows that his surveillance camera on the American flag had a considerably more positive response from the street than from the gallery. Incidentally I would really have loved to go to Arkansas. At least I have meanwhile learned how to pronounce it properly!

Lola did her best work of the whole competition in these last two episodes, and it therefore must have been all the harder for her to have narrowly missed making it to the finale. In Episode 8 her self-portrait with secrets was very striking and worked as well in the street as in the gallery. I regret that it was not possible for the TV viewers to read her secrets. Her portrait of the two coin dealers from Cold Spring in Episode 9 was strong and truly original.

Kymia's portrait of the antique dealers got her the victory in the last challenge and secured her position as one of the finalists. As much as I am in awe of the drawing that she did for the children's challenge, I find this portrait, while technically impeccably executed, a bit creepy and definitely not something I would wish to own. Sara Jimenez like Lola is in top shape towards the end of this competition. She beat out Lola in the street vendors challenge and took considerable risk in her portrait of the Cold Spring fireman. In her case it paid off for her and the reward is a place in the finale.

With most auctions behind me this year I took the time to read the various recaps, and some of the numerous comments this competition causes in cyberspace. First of all Jerry Saltz's recaps are totally brilliant and are the compulsory complement that one impatiently waits for after watching the episodes. Several other regular recaps are very humorous and fun to read. The heated discussions about which artists should have won or been eliminated are exactly the same as discussions I have on a daily basis with friends and colleagues on which artists in the non-TV world we admire or believe in. It demonstrates how highly subjective art's appreciation is and this is precisely the wonderful thing about it. China Chow, Jerry Saltz, Bill Powers, and the guest judges did a great job throughout Season 2 in discussing the relative merits of this season's contestants. The three finalists are all very talented. Lola, Michelle, Dusty all had the talent to also make it to the finale. As in life it is tiny things or coincidences that can make a difference.

Now I am highly impatient to see the finale!