Isn't It Ironic?

Bill points out the humor in doing a challenge about "bad taste" and laments the fact that no one chose the saxophone playing bear.

How ironic that the first challenge on a reality TV show about art attempts to tackle the idea of "poor taste." And what an honor to have Mary Ellen Mark as our first guest judge. I always look forward to seeing her portraits in The New Yorker. Plus, we never have enough female artists on as guest judges.

Congratulations to Michelle for winning week one with her outdoorsy still life. I love the way that the fragility of the paper echoes the fragility of man in her installation. In the past Michelle has assisted two of my favorite artists (Josephine Meckseper and Marilyn Minter), so it was nice to see her in the mix. As Jerry Saltz might respond, "That's the art world, baby." It's a small, small world.

Sara's woman being slow roasted was oddly captivating and reminded me of Baudelaire's famous observation that strangeness is a pre-requisite of beauty. Her palette shares a sensibility with the twin Brazilian street artists Os Gemeos, and I mean that as a compliment.

Lola's deconstruction of a thrift store landscape had a poetic title, but the visuals did little for me personally, and as is my problem with a lot of found object art, it was overly reliant on the viewer's interpretation. I do however respect her vision.

To Ugo, I'm sorry I said I felt like I was looking at elevator music, but I stand by my Picasso paraphrasing about great artists stealing. How cool that even after he got sent home, Ugo was still thinking about ways he could make his painting stronger by eliminating the background noise.

I wish my line to Bayete about his collage looking like Pam Grier in Monopoly jail had made the final edit, but I understand that it's not intended to be a comedy program. I truly entertained the idea of eliminating him for such a weak piece.

Finally, I can't believe no one picked as source material the bear playing a saxophone sculpture?! WTF. It's like a Jeff Koons waiting to happen.


An Alternate Universe

Bill loved that Kymia's exhibit brought viewers to a new world.

I remember last year questioning why rock stars receive standing ovations. Athletes, ballet dancers, and actors, too, but where is the applause for artists? Now I know this might sound hypocritical coming from a guy who told Sucklord that Mr. Brainwash after a lobotomy would have made more compelling street art, but I really do mean it. I could never withstand the pressure cooker these artists subjected themselves to by participating on Work of Art, and I commend each of them on their bravery. 

I told Young during the finale crits that his installation reminded me how we all live three lives: our public life, our private life, and our secret life. His projected biography interweaving Korean family traditions with his first generation experience as a proud gay man was about as all American as it gets. Seeing him pay tribute to his late father echoed a famous quote from Ayn Rand about our mortality when she said, "It's not I who shall die, but the world which will end." Now that I think about it, the same sentiment probably applies to reality TV competitions. In Young's case, he mined his father's death for all the material he could get, and it rang out as personal, political, and (like Kymia's show) semi-mythological. It's a tough tightrope to tread on the path to universal appeal and the abyss of the generic is a bottomless pit. 

Sara hinted at some of her personal struggles with the mattress full of hypodermic needles of which KAWS remarked, "It kind of makes bedbugs seem inviting." She also constructed a barrier of handwritten fears hung on a makeshift clothesline blocking your entrance into her show, a limbo stick of self-doubt every gallery viewer was forced to overcome. I had hoped Sara would embrace her mesmerizing approach to watercolors, which garnered so much attention during the season from her very first gallery show of the woman being slow-roasted to the sellout challenge where her portraits did gangbusters. In my head I envisioned Sarah painting massive canvases highlighting her signature style. 

When Kymia followed that impulse for her finale show, look at the results. Wow! Aliens, twins, ancient Egyptians -- Kymia created a whole alternate universe with its own unknowable history. I urge everyone to go check out her exhibition in person when it opens at The Brooklyn Museum. How cool that her work will be hanging in the same building as Eva Hesse and Alice Neel.

As for Season 3? We will have to see if our Work of Art worked for Bravo. Otherwise I hope we might be remembered as the Arrested Development of reality TV. I'll miss you guys!