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The Essence of the Competition

Simon takes every elimination to heart, so the double elimination this week was especially tough.

It was a great pleasure for me to have the contestants come to our downtown space at the beginning of this episode. It reminded me of the mini retrospective of Andres Serrano that we had installed for the shock art contest during Season 1.

Judging from the artists' reaction when China Chow described the challenge, this is one they felt clearly more at ease with than the one from last week. This impression got confirmed on my studio visit. Most artists were already quite advanced with their works.
Young had immediately articulated his concept and was already quite far down the road. He created a visually striking work, one that demanded the viewers' participation. It definitely was pop, not a rehashed version of '60s pop but very much a 21st century version of pop. It was also evident right then that this work would lend itself very well for publication in Entertainment Weekly. An amazing chance for any artist. One that did not escape the Sucklord judging from his comments on camera. His work was equally pop, full of his trademark humor, and would have merited being part of the top three, if the best three works had been singled out by the judges.

Kymia also produced a strong work. I admire her for her risk taking. Having never worked with photography before, it was a bold move to use that technique. Deciding to bare it all might have cost her the chance of having her work highlighted in Entertainment Weekly. I am glad she followed my advice when I answered her question (not included in the episode) whether to have the two neon tubes on top of the photograph or behind it.

Now to the bottom four: Dusty's work got a number of very favorable reactions from the visitors to the gallery show. His work was thought provoking and impeccably executed. Maybe it was not pop enough?
I am sad to see Jazz-Minh leave the show. She is a talented painter with an attractive personality. I am also sad to see Leon leave. He has a radiant and warm smile, and it was inspiring to communicate with him. His achievement to have made it onto the show is remarkable. His works in challenges one and two show great promise.
Now for Michelle. After having been at the near top of the pack in the first two episodes, I was surprised to see that she chose to ignore both my mentoring thoughts and her colleagues' suggestions that her work was too evocative of Warhol and of '60s pop. On the other hand each artist has to follow his or her own guts, so I admire her for it. While it was a banal idea, it was well executed.

Watching the Sucklord play the great seducer on the set made me smile and clearly added to the fun of watching this episode.

It is the essence of this competition to have at least one elimination every week, and I surprise myself at how personally I take every single one. In the same way I am proud of the artists who best tackle the respective challenges and manage to do it while impressing the outstanding roster of host and judges.

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