Out of all the guest judges from Season 1 Richard Phillips was the lone artist brought back for another round, and tonight you saw why. The guy is soft-spoken and deadly lucid. My only wish was that he'd name checked his famous "painter-bation" term from his last appearance. (If you don't know what I'm referring to, you can Google it). Also, his celebrity portraits they flashed up on-screen during his introduction are now available as prints on my art website, Exhibition A.
Here's a behind the scenes moment for you. When we were filming this gallery opening, I remember Andy Cohen standing off camera pointing to Dusty's candy portrait and giving it a big thumbs-up. I didn't have the heart to tell Bravo Andy that Jerry and I thought Dusty would be packing up his sweets and getting the heave-ho soon. I can 100% understand how someone could fall in love with Dusty's portrait and the fact that every few seconds you heard pieces dropping to the ground made it more interesting for sure. I also said to Dusty during the crits that it was a painting I could see hanging in the Ripley's Believe It or Not museum, like one of those Last Supper paintings made out of dryer lint. It may have seemed like I didn't think Dusty had grown during the competition, which is not true at all. Watching it all unfurl on TV, I found him as talented as he was endearing. Most of all I wish he'd taken Simon's advice and gone with the fortune teller origami portrait. His painting was missing an element of discovery and in that regard felt superficial.
Lola on the other hand has the opposite problem, although for my two cents I think she could have made a compelling finale exhibition. Her mapping of American currency was like a Ken Burns art project further layered with letter writing and actual drawings of the coin shop owners inexplicably wearing tin foil Snuggies. What the what?! I mean, how kooky and strange. Again we found ourselves debating whether anyone watching at home would "get" her portrait, but should we really have let that sway our decision in any way? And talk about growth over the course of the season. Of course her personal antics overshadowed much of the artwork she made, but the drawings with text as placeholders style she created starting with the New York Times challenge is something I pray she'll continue to explore. I know there's something great to be found in that style, and it feels really unique.
As for the winners, Young's impulse to have his portrait done by a local painter was my favorite and kind of reminded me of an Elizabeth Peyton, which is doubly ironic because part of her motivation in painting historical figures is that we all bring our own history in whatever we create. So a picture of George Washington made today will have certain nuances that we may not recognize straight away. I thought of that approach, the sympathetic magic latent in Young's decision, as we watched the episode play out. I did agree with Jerry though that his mess came off as a "tidy" one and that diminished his installation overall.
Tune in next week when the amazing KAWS is guest judge!