Selling Out or Buying In?

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

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

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

Selling Out or Buying In?

Bill thinks the secrets written on Lola's piece transformed it into an "achingly sincere" piece.

I remember talking to Damien Hirst once about the true test of value (dollar value that is) for an artwork is how long you can leave it on the street before it's stolen. Now that's not entirely related to the commercial challenge this week, but it does speak to the question of demand. Beyond what any TV judge or art critic thinks, often popularity is the ultimate real-time gauge, and when the public dips into their wallets, the people have spoken. Watching Sara make her exquisite watercolor portraits, I thought of Ai Weiwei, who was a street artist in Times Square in the 1980s or the time I got a Dana Schutz charcoal drawing of me done at a block party fundraiser for $20. They're fast and fun and almost always draw a crowd of spectators. Young, Dusty, and Sarah K. went too deep into merchandising world to hold my interest, but Lola and Kymia both pleasantly surprised me.

Now it's easy to dismiss Lola for going full frontal as yet another cheap reality TV ploy for attention, however the text scrolled over her body felt achingly sincere. "I'm loyal but not all the time." I mean, that can be a hard thing to admit about yourself. During the crits, I quoted my friend Sean Landers who has said, "Unless I'm doing something potentially humiliating, I don't feel like I'm pushing myself as an artist." I'm sure Lola could relate to that this week. Kymia's signature collecting/trading was so super basic, but in an age of identity theft and email sign-offs, our signatures can feel both anachronistic and as present as humanly possible. I wish I could show you my signature right now. It looks like a third grader's. As I said on the show, I commend Kymia's courage to engage is such a small exchange when the stakes keep getting higher and higher.

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!