Pop Touched Me, Too

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?

A Difficult Choice

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

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

Pop Touched Me, Too

Bill discusses why Young's work was so successful (and tells us the correct way to pronounce Kymia's name).

Pop art was the original mash-up, and while Andy Warhol is remembered as the king of pop, there were many others involved in the movement from Ed Ruscha to Roy Lichtenstein. Our guest judge on this challenge was a major coup for us, because Rob Pruitt embodies what pop art means today by hosting an annual art awards a la the Oscars and making slick glittery paintings a mile deep. I called Kymia's installation an example of product displacement. It shined a light -- quite literally -- on issues of environmentalism and consumerism without reading like an AdBusters cover. The fluorescent lights recalled Jeff Koons' pre-new work, and I agree with The Sucklord that her decision to go topless here surprised me. On a side note, I confess that for the first couple of episodes I had trouble pronouncing Kymia's name until someone explained that phonetically it sounds like leukemia without the "leu." Terrible comparison, but hey, it worked.

Young's Prop 8 billboard reminds us that simplicity is the ultimate sophistication, and Lola dismissing it as political art you see everywhere in California was a disappointment. Street art at its best has the ability to make real change. Does anyone doubt that Shepard Fairey's Obama poster helped him get elected president? The other aspect of Young's piece, which didn't fully read on TV, was how much of a hub it became in the gallery with people writing messages on the back. The participatory quality made everyone a stakeholder in Young's artwork. Rob Pruitt wrote "Will You Marry Me?" in Sharpie and I accepted. (Please don't tell his boyfriend Jonathan Horowitz, another great conceptual artist.)

My problem with Dusty's garbage can was that his message came off like someone wagging a finger in your face and not the call to arms we need in a country full of couch potatoes.
Jazz-Minh's commentary on celebrity culture was half-baked. I think it's fair to say that America invented what we call fame today. You need to push the conversation beyond Britney Spears' frozen smile. Inserting herself into the picture was risky, because it revealed the fine line between introspection and narcissism. (I'm talking perception here, not necessarily Jazz-Minh's intent.) I had a similar issue with Leon's floor piece in that the communication was fractured and reductive. I applaud his inclusion of the Facebook and Twitter logos as corporate icons of the 21st century, but to crack their facade didn't feel like enough of a transformation to save this piece. Plus the American flag is such a loaded symbol that unless you can really put your stamp on it, maybe this image too easily becomes a cliche.
Michelle faced a near identical challenge depicting the Coca Cola can, her reasoning being that Coke Zero is different than the original painted by Warhol. But to me it's just Diet Coke men can feel manly about drinking. Her decision to paint the soda can on a phone screen was the most interesting to me. In the world we live in surrounded by so many invisible filters, perhaps the mediation is the message.

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!