2/2/12 On Art Scams
Many of you are probably already aware of this art purchasing scam but just in case you aren't, I thought I'd take the time to outline it as someone has attempted to con me with it TWICE now (thankfully, unsuccessfully on both accounts)! This is how it works: Someone sees your work on an online database (like The Drawing Center's or fineartamerica.com, etc) and contacts you to inquire about a purchase. You respond with the details about the work's availability, price, etc. The individual responds again confirming the price, asking if a cashier's check is an acceptable form of payment, and reassuring you that he/she has a shipping company that will pick the work up from you after you've received the check. The individual also asks for all your information for filling out the cashier's check. Depending on how far the scam goes, the following details can change slightly...You receive a cashier's check for an amount significantly ABOVE your agreed-upon price. In cases past, the individual will say either 1) he/she later decided she wants to purchase more work from you and wanted to make sure she put plenty in to cover the cost of that additional work or 2) the bank made a mistake. The individual then asks YOU to please write a personal check for the remaining balance and just send it to the shipping company (in some cases described, this amount can be several thousand dollars). These individuals usually make it sound like this "shipping company" is a part of the family business or, in one instance, was already being paid by the family because the family was moving and would be charged a large lump sum for moving all their belongings- including your paintings. This is how they make it seem somewhat acceptable for you to just pay the shipping company the leftover amount instead of them personally. Many artists actually took the cashier's check to the bank assuming cashier's checks are as good as cash but didn't know they can take a few days to clear. In the meantime, the individual had them writing personal checks to their "private shipping company" to cover the remaining balance for the extra amount added in. When the bank called to inform them the cashier's check was fraudulent, they were already out their money to the alleged "shipping company." This has been tried on me twice now and both times I was struck by how flippant the individual seemed about the cost of my painting - this is because it ultimately doesn't matter. They're just going to send you a fake cashier's check for an amount significantly higher anyway and get YOU to pay the difference with a REAL check. So, from here on out, don't agree to sending your work anywhere or sending payment for anything anywhere until your payment has cleared at the bank. Remember, you have the product your client is wanting and if your request seems unreasonable, he/she can look elsewhere. I hate to be a Debbie Downer, especially because there are so many wonderful art patrons out there in the world, but want to make sure none of you get scammed in this way! You can google it as well as there have been many, many accounts of nearly identical scams run on artists far and wide.
1/23/12 Okay, okay...so I admit. I unfortunately got a little distracted with life during the last few episodes of Work of Art 2 and was unable to see them or post about them. You all know who the winner is and I'm thrilled for all the finalists! I'm looking forward to seeing Young's work here in Chicago later this month! And for all of you interested in auditioning for Work of Art Season 3 if and when it happens, I'll keep you posted or you can periodically check bravo's website under the "casting" tab and the bottom for all up-to-date information on any and all shows casting! Good luck!
11/16/11 Takin' it to the Streets! Episode 6
STREET ART! Man, I bet Tewz was at home kickin' himself wishing he were there to take part in this challenge. This week (I missed last week and actually haven't gotten caught up yet but from the recap, I see Young won yet again and Bayeté was sent home) the artists were divided into teams of two to create street art on GINORMOUS exterior brick walls in Brooklyn. Seriously, if you've never done a mural before, you have no idea how strenuous the sheer logistics of working that large are. When working inside, most artists take advantage of the good ole' overhead projector (the kind your trig teacher used to write on to show all that sine/cosine/hypotenuse stuff...what was that acronym? SOH-CAH-TOA or something like that...or, if you're from a Bible belt small town, the kind they used up front to project the words to the praise and worship songs on the wall). Anyway, projectors make it instantly simple to scale up an image and keep all the ratios the same regardless of how large you're working. When you're working outside, though, you don't have that luxury (unless you live in Gotham and have the hook-up with the city's Batman light...or live in Berlin where they seem to do all kinds of crazy outdoor projections). You have to either free-hand it (which is an extremely risky move and what it looked like Kymia and Sarah did), use a grid system (which I didn't see anyone use because it takes FOREVER and requires an incredible amount of patience and some math skills (hope you paid attention in that math class), or work off-site and wheat paste the singular pieces to the wall (like all those band flyers you see around the city and what it looked like Lola and Michelle and Young and Dusty did). I do know a muralist who has figured out some way to do a large-scale transfer of a painting made off-site directly onto the wall itself with some type of medium (a process similar to wetting the back of a temporary tattoo and peeling if back to reveal the image of that peace sign or high school Cougar paw on your wrist...or if you were REAL gung-ho, your FACE)...this seems about as mythical as the Lock Ness Monster but who knows. Either way you slice it, this kind of work is no joke.
Let's start with the higher scoring teams. I have to say the only thing that really impressed me about Kymia and Sarah's piece was its sense of scale and use of that huge space. I don't know what it was...something about the way that alien-looking "business man" was rendered reminded me of something off of a Comedy Central cartoon..Kymia's half (the multi-headed tree) looked somewhat more interesting with the light outlines against the dark figures, but overall, I just sort of felt "meh" about it. Young and Dusty's piece was good. I was kind of over the whole "interactive, come-draw-on-me" thing though and didn't necessarily think it was needed (I actually agreed with Simon's critique who, bless his well-suited lil' heart, usually says nothing more than, (insert your own French accent) "Vell, at thees point, eet's really too hard to tell vhere you're going wis eet so ve'll have to vait an see." I was impressed with how clean of a finished product they were able to get given the size of the wall and all that text they had to work with. The strength of the piece really came from their ability to find common ground and simplify it into a series of extremely simple questions that arrive at an extremely poignant answer. Young is smart to continually push to draw upon personal experience for content because it's what enables humans to have a stronger reaction to his work (although I once heard Jerry say at an SAIC critique when in grad school that technically you can't say your work is about "personal experience" as a defining statement because EVERYONE'S work is about that. You subconsciously draw upon what you know and cannot draw upon anything else in order to make your work...I get it, I get it). I wonder what either would have made had they not been given that gift of their unique circumstances-it was a combination of the luck of the draw and the smarts to know to find it and USE it.
I have to say, though, that - sexual aspects COMPLETELY aside - I loved the LOOK of Michelle and Lola's and completely agree with Kymia that it seemed very contemporary. You have to take this opinion, though, with a grain of salt because I'm very biased toward works on paper and this work really looked like a collage piece blown up and mixed in with its brick backdrop. I liked how different it seemed. It didn't use the neon, loud color palette I'd normally associate with street art and instead was airy, light, and playful. I couldn't care less about whether the imagery was sexual or not (because, as has been the case in past episodes, I really can't see it all that clearly on my television anyway) but I loved the weird cartoon spirit of it. I also don't really have an opinion about whether it was right or wrong to let visitors "tag" other artists' work with their stickers. Maybe I'd have been upset had it been me, but it's like come on-the judges are gonna know that tiny champaign bottle or drunk tiger face stuck right in the middle of your very serious flatly painted 20-foot figure is probably not yours!
SO bummed Sucklord was sent home! Of course I understand it...he's not the kind of artist that 1) needs to be on a reality show to help his career and 2) is even cut out for this kind of format. It's true that his and Sara's maze was boring- save for the mouse and cheese- and very cold and impersonal. It MIGHT have worked a little better had they made the maze small enough that people could reasonably stand there and work their way through it visually (and by small I don't mean in scale I mean in how complicated and numerous the twists and turns were). A different color would've helped too and the 3D aspect was ambitious but not necessary given that their overall theme was "maze" and therefore it didn't really do anything to help that idea. Anyway, I absolutely adore that Sucklord walked off with "later babe" and came back with such bizarre quips about armor and newly-forged strength! This show will definitely NOT be nearly as fun to watch without him. I'm relying on Dusty, now, to be the one to infuse a good dose of reality when things get too serious about being artsy-fartsy.
11/3/11 KIDDIES!! Episode 4
So I'm getting around to watching the fourth episode a little late- at 11:00 p.m. on-demand with a bowl of chickpea soup the night after it aired- but oh well. After a long day of helping run auditions involving well over a hundred girls singing the SAME Christmas carol all day long, it was the perfectly pleasant ending to a very long day...and helped get the song out of my head. The fourth episode challenged the artists to create works of art that complemented original artwork made by NYC public school children; a task I really wish I could've taken on during the first season! What a great opportunity to infuse the stuffy art-school-academia-air with unhindered, untainted, pure imagination and creativity! I love seeing work by kids because they don't yet have technical skill to lean upon as a crutch in lieu of expressing their own ideas so their art seems so alive, unique, and decisive! You won't care how crumby the drawing of the parrot driving the walrus-carriage is because you'll be so flummoxed by the entire notion of a "walrus-carriage" that it won't matter-and to the child, of course, it's crystal clear. "What do you mean what's that? It's a walrus-carriage. Duh. Yes, being driven by a parrot. What's so hard for you grown-ups to understand? Give me my juice box." It's the artists who were able to tap into that same untethered creative vein regardless of rationality or "over-thinking-it" that made my favorite pieces of the week.
Once again Sarah K made a great piece that was overlooked by the judges in the critique (I loved her "We're Closed" paper piece from last week also). "After Midnight" took the little girl's original opaque silhouette shapes and brought them to life. I loved how she didn't just take little Marlow's shapes and animate them (like Bayeté whose piece reminded me a lot of a moving Henry Darger except without the idiosyncratic imaginative energy even though it was pretty). She did MORE than that by creating a mood and an atmosphere through the use of the foggy panes through which the swaying and twittering silhouettes could barely be made out AND topped it off with a great evocative title. It made me think of all the mysterious whirrings and buzzings you hear when walking through tall grass in a field or forest at night... Michelle's paper piece (post macabre twist - although I DO like how far her mind leaps with ideas from an original starting point) was a nice blend of her peculiar, creepy tone and great materials skills, and Young's feathered life-size wall collage was visually very arresting and made multiple sound connections with his young artist's original. Kymia was the week's winner and I agree her piece was great. In addition to correlating with the story from the original artist'scarrot piece, she mimicked its muted palette and horizontal orientation. Her mark-making was whimsical and highly expressive and looked beautiful even on television and it's no surprise her piece will be the one chosen to auction at Phillips de Pury. They needed something that was "high art enough" to be purchased for a good deal of money by people who frequent the auction house so work that seemed pretty much just like what you'd find in a contemporary artist's studio already would be the best bet. No offense to the Sucklord (whose personal connection to his young artist was so adorable), but the likelihood that one of Simon's clients is going to buy what looks like a kindergarten play stage prop to put in his/her Manhattan loft is pretty much slim to none. I mean, it would be pretty hard to hit on a glamazon at a cocktail party puhing tuna tartare around a mini-plate standing next to that piece...unless you wanted to lead with your comedic foot.
Speaking of Sucklord, I'm still a huge fan but did agree 100% with Jerry's comment that he should really try creating his OWN worlds instead of relying upon the worlds someone else has created in his work (Star Wars: that's George Lucas' world...HE gets dibs and everyone else is piggy-backing off of his creativity). He, along with Bayeté and Dusty (whose piece was crafted interestingly but surprised me as being in the top) seemed to just treat the young artists' works as design blueprints for a larger, animated or interactive version-like someone who goes to a cake decorator with a picture of what they want their cake to look like and the baker uses her skills as tools to execute the client's idea. The baker doesn't really get credit for the creativity behind the finished product but is instead praised for the required technical skill. Bayeté is the only artist in this competition who happens to know how to use video editing software (or chooses to do so) so he used that as his tool to simply animate the young girl's butterfly piece. Sucklord knows how to make sculptures out of foam and paint them, so he used that skill to bring his little artists' painted tree into the three dimensional realm by making a sculpture of the tree. These decisions didn't do the artists justice because they didn't allow them room for their own creativity to shine. My favorite works of art display a combination of technical skill and unique imaginative drive and I look forward to hopefully seeing more of that from this season's artists. Congratulations to Kymia whose name I spell differently every time I type it and hats off to my Chicago native, Tewz! I look forward to seeing his art out and about in the Windy City!
10/27/11 Dirty Pop, Baby, Baby You Can't Stop! Episode 3
Like that little NSync reference there? I couldn't think of anything else that plays off "Pop" except the dance style pop n' lock which wasn't giving me much. Anyway, my guess that this week's challenge would be some sort of political one was wrong....although given the vast presence of corporate logos in the artists' final pieces, you wouldn't necessarily have known it. After zig-zagging through Phillips de Pury following a trail of tin cans to an aluminum alter glorifying a rather uninspiring-looking work of pop god Andy Warhol (and China in a Judy Jetson outfit), the artists learned their challenge was to create a piece of pop art (I know the greatness of the Campbell soup can work but on TV it just looked like a Hobby Lobby poster...Andy may not have minded anyhow). Since such specific images and themes come to mind when we hear "pop art," I knew from the beginning that THIS would be the challenge where some otherwise good artists would make something really bad (and, in turn, make me feel better about myself...sitting on my big orange couch in my pajamas and ragged slippers scarfing down a chocolate Vita-Top and chasing it with gulps of Diet Dr. Pepper on a Wednesday night).
From the moment we began hearing the artists' ideas about their pieces, the obvious ones in troubled water (without a bridge) were Leon, Dusty, Bayeté (who had immunity), Michelle, and an artist whose finished piece changed my mind later: Tewz. My biggest issue with the majority of these pieces (excluding Bayetés and Tewz's whose I'll comment on momentarily) was how forced, heavy-handed, and obvious they were. While I, no doubt, would have probably frozen too and coughed up something littered with Marilyns, bright colors, and consumer goods, I was surprised more artists didn't come up with a unique, personal, original way to reinterpret pop art IDEALS through their OWN styles; creating a gallery filled with items that didn't automatically read as POP but that, upon further inspection, communicated it in a new way- although, given China's unfortunate critique question, "did you ever think about doing it in bright, poppy colors?" any artist that attempted this feat might not have been able to include China in the joke...apparently she, too, thinks it's not POP if it aint BRIGHT.
Anyway, poor Dusty with his heavy-handed "How Could You" fast food critique, Leon with his American flag AND corporate logos (that's just a total overkill of obvious iconography which neutralizes itself in the end), Michelle (whose previous work has been consistently better than most anything on my season or hers) and her Coke can tops AND Coke can AND iphone all felt painfully expected. Tewz's bothered me before he started building it simply because his stated plan sounded like nothing more than building a wall on which to tag....i.e. to do what he always does at home and what he would probably do on the gallery walls if they'd have allowed him to so he had to compromise and make a wall he could graffiti...nothing creative there. Bayeté's, I knew, would fall flat because 1) the idea of merging the facial features of different races in Photoshop is seen all the time in advertisements, movies, and commercials now and 2) the finished product wouldn't be anything more than an image of a woman to anyone who wasn't already familiar with Kymia and Sara and thus couldn't recognize both their features in the final piece.
In the end, Jazz-Minh and Leon were sent home. I totally understood Leon (even though I liked his piece with the glass and mirror last week), and, while I didn't like Jazz-Minh's Britney Spears spoofs at all, I thought for sure Dusty would be the one sent home. Jazz-Minh's pieces seemed like cheap shots made at a type of lifestyle sought after by certain types of young cheerleader-y, fame-hungry girls from a woman who's too cool to bow to such degradation and depths of pathetic approval addiction and instead has "bite me" tattooed on her inner lip. Or maybe that's just my insecurities coming out because I envy her cool, hippy chick, naturally-beautiful-with-hardly-any-makeup look...I wish her the best in NYC and am pretty sure this won't phase her one bit!
Why didn't Sarah's gorgeous text piece get more coverage?! "We're Closed" was my favorite piece in the exhibition even though I barely got a chance to glance at it. I interpreted it as a piece so beautifully and intricately crafted (have YOU ever cut out lots of letters with an x-acto knife?!) yet STILL unable to keep its doors open in this economy. It made me think of the incredible artisans here in Chicago who put immense care into their trade (whether it be chocolate-making, leather repair, or, like a gentleman I had the pleasure of meeting a few weeks ago, custom mannequin-making) who want nothing more than to continue dedicating hours upon hours providing individual clients with the utmost in customer service but are having to close their shops because it's cheaper to buy grocery store chocolate, new shoes, or clothes that half-way fit you from a department store than to have experts provide their services. And when I'm pointing a finger at you, there are three pointing right back at me-I treat a Target gift card like crack cocaine, okay?!? Anyway, all that is to say her piece resonated with me and was beautiful to look at. Young's was visually very impacting and made a playful use of the audience, but Sarah's was my favorite by far.
A few other comments on other works? Tewz changed my mind in the end. What I originally thought would be a total one-liner turned into an installation with a great balance of textures and colors (with the white of the "truck" back, the brown stacked cardboard boxes, and the neon text) even if I did think the play on words "FadEx" was a little obvious. Kymia's was alright- it certainly LOOKED just like a slick ad...I could picture Tom Ford and his penchant for barely covering nipples and vaginas with bottles of Black Orchid signing off on something similar in his next ad campaign (you KNOW the guy's gonna do a signature cocktail or something if he hasn't already). I thought the neon lights on the sides were a great addition and gave the piece a garish, truck stop bathroom kind of eerie glow that added some contextual undertones. Not bad. Oh- I LOVED her zebra-ish nail polish and was fascinated by the FCC rules and regulations surrounding what can and cannot be shown on television when it comes to bare breasts...the real thing, NO, a crystal clear picture of the real thing, YES. You may remember last season when John Parot did a cartoon painting of a man pleasuring himself...that was not the real deal NOR was it a picture of the real deal yet IT was blurred. Apparently the network prefers seeing one type of anatomy over another...interesting.
10/20/11 Parkour...Pourquoi? Episode 2
What are the chances of my mentioning parkour TWICE in these posts within the last two months?! I admit, I beamed with pride watching those borderline insane youngsters catapult themselves over banisters and stairwells landing safely into the same forward roll I blogged about having to learn for my video game audition (the only difference is theirs was on harder-than-nails concrete and mine was on...well...yoga mats). So episode 2 turns out to be a group challenge in which each of two teams must create a cohesive exhibition about movement. I am SO glad this wasn't a challenge during our season. It's one thing for a curator to choose works already in existence about "movement" and arrange them in a show; it's another to have various artists make NEW work with the theme in mind and ensure all the pieces communicate the same theme together. The artists (understandably, given the lack of time to think clearly for more than a split second) were so distracted by having to make sure their work fit into the overall theme AND their respective GROUP themes that it's no wonder several ran into wall after wall of confusion. Initially, the groups settled on two concepts: migration and digestion.
I was baffled by Simon's inability to see how both ideas had to do with movement. One minute, they want to kick someone off for being TOO literal (Bayeté and his racial piece with its overtly obvious components), the next ideas that are more conceptual and abstract suddenly become too much to handle?! I have no clue if team Migration would've been able to pull off a more successful exhibition had they stuck to their original idea, but I DO know that Simon's protest played a huge factor in their abandoning that idea and moving to an even trickier one: Circles (or what became known as team Loop). While I understand Leon's attempt at providing the artists a simple, formal element from which to spring into their own methods of working, the problem with his idea was the element itself. A circle is merely a shape without any inherent dynamism or movement. It just so happens that when we see something moving in life, we can often locate a circular shape or cyclical pattern but a circle itself is static; an arbitrary image just like all other images without meaning until placed in a certain context. And when you start making work with the word CIRCLE emblazoned on your brain and you only have 8-10 hours to do so, you're not going to come up with anything with life, vitality, speed, energy, or movement. You're going to come up with balls....just...sitting there...which imply weight more than movement.
Team Digestion changed their idea as well to "Play with Me"- a theme broad enough to allow for creative freedom, experimentation, whimsy, and tongue-in-cheek humor. Whether all the work was significantly stronger or not doesn't matter- the theme alone offered a more engaging experience for the visitors with at least the opportunity to laugh or cock your head to the side and say, "what?!" I love a good underdog story and I loved Bayetés piece. I had it written down as a favorite before the episode even got to the gallery show...and I felt this way about it seeing it on TV! It had to translate through TWO mediums to get to me! I envy artists who can evoke a strong emotional response with such simplicity and Bayeté did exactly that. Though he gave me himself spinning around, it wasn't just his experiences he was plastering all over me-he made me think about MY memories of spinning and twirling...on the merry-go-round behind my parents' house in Fort Sill, Oklahoma where my friends and I would sneak late at night...under our city's 50 foot lit Christmas tree with friends - bundled arms outstretched trying not to thwack into each other with mittens and pouffy jackets. It was a beautiful, simple, and extremely effective job well done! I'm glad he won and admit I feel sheepish for choosing him as the one to have gone home during the first episode!
Other likes from both teams? Young's shimmering flag was visually stunning (as was his cool-as-a-cucumber leadership ability), Michelle's interplay of the large photographic backdrop and wooden sculpture gave the piece a tale to tell (sexual connotations aside..I couldn't really see those on TV), Leon's light and broken glass installation had an intriguing eeriness to it; although I thought the addition of the broken bottles and plates made the story a little too obvious. Oh, and while I thought Sucklord's piece was a bit too slick of a finished product, I love his commitment to light-heartedness and humor- but then again, he's been a toy designer so it's no wonder his work looks like finished, ready-to-package products. He also proved this episode that he's not just some arrogant art punk. He shows flickers of genuine warmth when interacting with other artists (and no, not just Lola), and shows an ability to set aside the wizard warlock-y pomp and circumstance, focus in on the challenge at hand, and recognize when things aren't working properly.
Which leads to poor Katherine. Bless her lil' heart. I feel so sorry for her that she wasn't feeling well and that THAT played a large role in the now infamous tearful outburst Bravo's used within an inch of its LIFE to promote the new season (which, in her absence, no doubt, will be replaced by clips of Sucklord and Lola getting cozier and cozier). I can't help but wonder if her difficulty in straying from the grotesque bodily subject matter has something to do with her personal physical disease. As she mentioned, because of it she's become fixated with ideas of the visceral human internal body and I wonder (I'm sounding like Carrie Bradshaw here) if she sees criticism of her work as a form of attack on herself. What do I know though-I'm probably completely wrong so I'll leave that right there. I have to say I saw this elimination quickly approaching the minute I saw how closely her first episode piece resembled the work she's already known for. As I've said before, you may be able to get away with making the same work over and over again in the "art world," but it won't work in a competition like this where flexibility, problem solving, and new ways of thinking are key. I had the same problem. In any event, she's a Yale MFA grad- she'll be fine. Nao was eliminated at the same point last year with an equally impressive resumé and she kept movin' without a hiccup!
We'll see what next week's episode brings but if the clip of "God loves fags" (which is true, by the way...although not my preferred choice of wording) is any indication, I'm a little worried the contestants are faced with a challenge just like our "shock" challenge...perhaps a political challenge, hot button challenge..who knows. I'm looking forward to it either way. Oh, and another note of important business: I loved Jeannie's outfit.
10/13/11 Work of Art Season 2 Premiere Recap
My reminder that WoA Season 2 was about to premiere came early in the day yesterday when flipping through the channels and, to my surprise, catching reruns of Season 1 on Bravo in an attempt to ramp up excitement for the new show. I have the kind of service where I see the title of the program before seeing the actual content so of course I selected it and was immediately met eye-to-eye with a close up of Judge Jeannie declaring a piece had NO sex and NO status...Yikes, I thought...oh, wait...that's about mine. Oh YEAH I get kicked off in this one! Funny side note, I just finished a brand new piece for a show that looks a LOT like that piece only with much more time devoted to it and I must say, I love it! It's entitled "Bouquet" on the New Works page. I chuckled, watched myself get the boot for a few minutes, then went back to my business. I had hopes that Season 2 would be "better" than our season. Better in terms of representing a more diverse and accurate slice of the art world and better in constructing challenges that don't automatically force an expected result (I mean, come on...what can you expect from a challenge about making art that "shocks" people? You're gonna get nothing but blurred pixels and hot-button issues) After seeing last night's first episode, I think things are getting better and I'm truly excited to watch the rest of the season.
Instead of looking solely for executed skill in specific pieces, I'm interested in gauging the artists' potential for success in the show by looking at their thought processes and their willingness to be flexible-the latter being the quality I now think is the most beneficial for the show's contestants all the way up until the finalists finally get complete control of the reigns. While I was impressed with the past body of work by various artists, I was a little worried to see so many immediately trying to replicate their studio practice and force it to fit the first challenge. This is certainly a desire I understand 100%. You get there and you think you have to show the world YOUR STYLE so they will love it AND you and throw massive wads of cash at you for your goods, Unfortunately, though, given the time constraints and curve-ball nature of the challenges, you're more than likely only going to be able to pull off something close to what you'd make in your studio a couple of times at best and if you keep trying, you'll more than likely come out with finished work that looks like a really, really bad version of your "regular" work (i.e, the work you DON'T take just 8 hours to make). I noticed Kathryn making her hallmark gory imagery out of her garage sale wonder, Sucklord making a wizard action figure out of his wizard painting (who I LIKE by the way), and Ugo making his line painting: all methods closely akin to their existing work. I'm not saying their work on the show can't resemble what they're known for---I'm just saying it's gonna get tricky to keep it up successfully as the challenges change.
Which leads me to the judges' picks. I admit, I was surprised Ugo was sent home. While I do feel he would have more than likely made something that looked very similar to his final product regardless of what the challenge was, I don't think his piece was the least successful. I'm surprised they didn't give him points on craftsmanship and was shocked that they kept harping on the Keith Haring bit. While it DOES look like Haring's work, nearly all of Ugo's portfolio looks like that so it shouldn't have been any surprise at all to see in the competition. It almost seems that if the work felt too derivative of someone else's, it should have prevented him from being cast in the first place. It's sort of like, "you KNEW you were going to get this when you invited me, so you can't let it be THE THING that you send me home for." I'm with Jerry, though, that the whole red or no-red issue didn't matter. The problem was with how pre-determined the piece may have seemed in light of the opportunity to try something new given the challenge. But it still didn't deserve to send him home. Out of the three contestants in the bottom, I'll briefly say Bayete's was the least successful for me for actually all the reasons mentioned by the judges. The topic of race is an extremely relevant and complex topic that needs to be addressed but when you overkill on the obvious imagery, it cancels out the force of the piece and makes it almost meaning-LESS. Sucklord's issue was the final product wasn't enough of a change from the original. I really like this guy ,though, and commend his stickin' to his guns in his own little world. The only bone I had to pick with him the entire episode was his flip-flopping opinion about the original wizard piece. When in front of the contestants, he claimed to absolutely LOVE the original kitschy wizard piece-saying he's not a high-brow kinda' guy and is one who loves "things like that." In front of the judges, however, he called it "crappy." If you're wanting to come across as the guy who's all down-to-earth and not high-falutin' who loves all things kitsch, you can't try to double as the wise-guy art-school-grad who picks and chooses when to step outside that persona and turn and make fun of the stuff. I only call him out on it because I've done it too about my girly girls. Either way, I'm excited to see how he fares! I'm a fan!
Speaking of fans, I was blown away by the paper piece in Michelle's work (and the paper pieces in her portfolio, for that matter). My only hope is that she doesn't get known as just the "girl who does the amazing paper sculptures." While I couldn't see enough of Lola's piece to get a firm handle on its quality, I was impressed with her flexible approach when faced with total "I don't know what to make" syndrome. I actually had a class with Lola at SAIC- Dada Art History actually. Fun fact? Art Fag City reported she used to live with Al Pacino as a little girl. Anyway, I think the fact that she didn't automatically know what to make is a GOOD sign in this type of competition because it suggests she didn't come into it with a firmly planted idea of what she was going to make no matter WHAT the challenge was. As I mentioned earlier, I'm interested most in seeing how flexible these artists are and how willing they are to let go of studio comfort blankets. I have no clue what Lola will make in the weeks ahead and I don't think she does either which is why I'm really interested. I'm also excited to see more from Young and Kimya. Until next week, let's hope you won't find yourself in a situation as scary as the "last time you were tested for STD's" I believe that was Michelle's quote...Nao made t-shirts last season for "I'm not responsible for your experience of my work"...could this be the next one??
10/8/11 Get excited! I'll be blogging here every week responding to each episode of Work of Art Season 2 premiering October 12 at 9/8C
7/27/11 Florals Update and the Bain of William's Existence
I'm happy to report I've moved on from my first canvas work in YEARS to a second one! Although don't give me too much credit because I did have to revisit my old standby and whip out 2 small works on paper between the two. As I mentioned in my last post, I'm taking on abstract florals because the thought of working on canvas again terrified me so much I couldn't even begin to figure out how I'd transfer the girls in my paper works to the new surface so I chose a subject 1) that I love and 2) that I've been casually making on greeting cards for friends and family for about 10 years. It wasn't until Patrick and an engineer friend took over the back half of my apartment for a weekend bender of custom microcontroller sensor building (whhaaaa?) that I forced myself to sit down and continue making work. I mean, come on...I have too much pride to let that engineer in the other room take a couple fresh-baked cookies off a plate that I just baked and then thank me as I retreat to the living room to watch The Glee Project while they make robots (I HAVE done that a few times since they've been working here...I just turned the tv down low and pretended I was watching something intellectual like Charlie Rose). After picking Patrick up from working on the set of NBC's upcoming 1960's show, "The Playboy Club" (poor, poor thing), we came back to meet the engineer for more building and I started a new floral abstract. I said something interesting while spread out all over the floor leaving William zero floor space that wasn't coverd in snipped red or green wires, soddering cords, machine parts, or paper plates filled with half-dried acrylic pools...I said, "this is really fun...I don't have to think." Yet of course I was making conscious descisions every step of the process, they just seemed so much less painstaking than when working with figures. Now if I could only apply that blissfully hapless mindset to my entire working method....Oh, and by the way, my parkour bruises are healing quite nicely and aren't looking quite so much like a topographical map of Colorado.
7/21/11 Back to Florals and Living Room Tumbling
As much as I adore the cheeky chicks that adorn about 99% of my work from the past 3 years, I'm beginning to grow a tad bit tired of their antics...all that eye roling! Plus, their yoyo dieting is obnoxious and is taking a toll on my piggy bank. Do you have any idea how expensive it is to keep a sorority house full of organic-only/pre-washed/mixed greens munching women- EACH with a horrific sweet tooth that attacks at random happy? In preparation for my exhibition at the Palomar Hotel in September, I've begun fiddling around with new ideas (partly to make me feel like a real artist who is "developing" or "transitioning" and partly so I don't feel like a loser with an entire lobby and guest floor filled with old work at an opening to which I won't be able to invite ANYONE who went to grad school with me because they will have already seen everything two years ago). Don't get me wrong- the girls won't be gone for long...in fact I have a few ideas for new works that will bring them back; however I'm now playing with imagery that keeps perfectly in stride with the spirit of past work but does not resemble it in subject.
The key word here is playing. For some reason, when I visit other artists' studios and see walls of very different types of work, studies, and experiments (even so varied as to seem like they might've been made by different people) it seems perfectly acceptable- welcomed, even. Yet when I sit down to start creating, I've found it very difficult to give myself the license to make something that couldn't fit into a series with previous work. This of course can be detrimental to an artist's ability to stumble upon something new to be used in exciting, future work---an element all my grad school advisers called "fresh." Anyway in trying to get away from something stale and into something fresh, I've begun fiddling with scraps of paper, magic markers, backs of old drawings, and (gasp) even a canvas! I know, I know...I've been avoiding that leap for a very long time; choosing instead to wrap myself up in the comfort and security of my huge rolls of hot-pressed watercolor paper. I treated that poor thing like it was an invading cowboy in my saloon...it took me weeks after just MOVING the thing out of my closet before I finally even took its WRAPPING off! I eyed it suspiciously as I cooked breakfast or printed something off at the computer...How could I avoid it? This unidentified flat, blindingly blank, and shockingly white rectangle had stepped foot in my domestic territory and something HAD to be done about it. There simply wasn't enough room in my town for the both of us and I couldn't take the guilt any longer that I wasn't joyously attacking the living daylights out of it with confidence and enthusiasm like "any other NORMAL artist would," no doubt...The truth was, just like every beginning art student I've ever worked with muses, I didn't know what to paint!! Upon finally FORCING myself to at least TRY to spend an hour with the invader, what came out on the surface was, to my surprise, simply...flowers. No girls, no gowns, no goblets, no gusto...but COLOR and line and texture and layers and-wait...am I becoming an abstract painter?!?! It. was. fun! I also grabbed a piece of slick, plastic Yupo paper with half a finished nail polish portrait on one side and began drawing abstracted hot air balloons on the back in magic marker. Magic marker?!?! NO, it's probably NOT archival, thank you very much and I don't care! After moving lines over, under, and through one another for a while, I grabbed the spray bottle used for ironing off a nearby cabinet and smeared nearly all of my work---to my delight----and began again afresh...Afresh? Maybe I'd made something "fresh" afterall...I'm excited to be playing with materials again and not focusing so much on storytelling. You can, after all, tell a great story through materiality; one that allows the viewer to take the lead instead of force-feeding it to them through a tube and a very long and descriptive title card. I'm looking forward to seeing where the new canvas goes and will keep you posted.
Oh- and the bit about living room tumbling? That's just what I've been doing for the past two days in BETWEEN avoiding my now semi-painted canvas who still scares me in the kitchen...I had an audition this afternoon to be a female assassin turned into a video game character. You know, wear that weird suit with the wires that tracks your every move and is then used to generate a 3D digital model? Anyway, since it's a military game and the character is loosely based off of Angelina Jolie in the movie Salt (never saw it..assume it's a lot of smoldering and lip pouting and flashes of black shiny hair flying back from the unzipped collar of a biker jacket), I had to do some running, leaping, and rolling followed seemlessly by more running..with a weapon. So, guess who spent the last two days googling, "Parkour for Beginners?" This girl. I have to say that what looks like the cool, easy-going big sister to the summersalt can actually be a death trap of twisted spine, breathless lungs, and seemingly flattened cranium if done with even the SLIGHTEST bit of nervous hesitation. After doing a humiliating amount of sprinting through the length of my apartment, abruptly stopping at the foot of a cushiony palette I made on the floor consisting of 1 overpriced Target area rug + 1 hot pink yoga mat from a Lawton, Oklahoma Walmart + 1 white down comforter covered in a lot of cocker spaniel hair and proceeding to decide AGAINST rolling forward altogether only to stand up and go back to my starting point in the living room yet AGAIN, I finally advanced to executing a move that seemed much more "drunken and hallucinating rolly polly" than "sexy roof-jumping assassin." After a very sore right shoulder and a slight jiggly feeling in my brain, I got the hang of it (the trick, since you're dying to know, is to run fast, leap, land, and continue to allow your momentum to launch you forward while TUCKING YOUR HEAD. If you're moving quickly enough, your body naturally does the rest of the work for you, popping you straight up on the other side of the roll with plenty of sustained momentum to continue chasing after your mercenary with a sniper rifle). The sad thing was I didn't even get to use it in my audition today...too much time spent vaulting over the nice furniture in the lobby of a downtown Chicago video game developer's office with a handgun and too much time yelling at and leg sweeping a poor intern. I like to think I was a nice assassin contestant as I politely returned all weapons assigned to me and rearranged the pillows on all the couches I maimed with my awkward attempt at Angelina mimicry...minus the special effects and stunt double.
5/2/11 Long Overdue Update...of Sorts
So yes, it's been almost forever since I've blogged about anything of consequence but feel like now is probably as good a time as any to provide an update. Over the past several months I've had the privilege of expanding my creative output into acting and spokes modeling and have loved every minute of it! This interest would, of course, come as no surprise to anyone who's spent about half a second with the quirky characters in my paintings. I've been living vicariously through them all along- reveling in their adventures and MIS-adventures, their gowns, trashy or angelic behavior, their overly dramatic expressions and sterotypical behavior, not to mention their size 2 frames. Mentally embodying the specific characters of "my girls" while creating them is what gives me the energy to continue creating the worlds in which they wine and dine. In light of this fascination and passion, the desire to use my OWN self as a storytelling vehicle through embodying different characters makes perfect sense!
This new found excitement was the inspiration for my most recent hot air balloon piece, "Take Flight." Who knows whether this new endeavor will plumet to the ground in a pile of embarrassment and shame hurling me into the darkened caverns of my Roscoe Village apartmet to pathetically relive the glory days of my imaginary acting career like Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard or not is yet to be proven...one thing is for sure: my neighbors probably think I'm LOSING it. Between my preparations for acting auditions and Patrick's (who has also started getting work!), my upstairs neighbors have heard us hurling ourselves to the ground screaming while we both get our "heads blown off" for a Civil War flick (somehow "flick" and Civil War don't seem to go together), giggling like drunkards and sloppily spitting out archaic insults like, "you're a wing nut, Fred!" and "you're a mean old cow, Ruby!" for a 1940's rom-com, and, among other things, pretending to deport and then be deported by each other...tomorrow Patrick and I are booked to be art gallery patrons at a "Calvin Klein party" while he serves as a waiter in a speedo...sounds like a marginally non-boring Tuesday....
11/15/10 It's official, "Work of Art" has been picked up by Bravo again for its second season! For more information, and to hear what producers think of the likelihood of Season 1 judge Jerry Saltz's return, check out the following article from "Vulture" here! PS- Congratulations to Season 1 winner, Abdi Farah, who just sold one of his WoA finalist pieces, "Baptism," for a reported $20,000.00 at a November Phillips de Pury auction!
9/12/10 CONGRATULATIONS, ABDI! Just back from the finale party in Brooklyn and will be commenting more about this soon!
8/6/10 Into the Wild. Episode 9 Reaction
To save time and help to condense my thoughts about this episode, I’m going to list my favorite components bullet-point-style and expound thereafter...Ready? Aim...(everyone duck)...Fire!
1) The artists’ rooftop breakfast getting interrupted by Bill Powers’ puffy plaid bomber jacket and silly oversized green-rimmed sunglasses
2) Getting to see these hip, urban, emo (in only a few cases) artists against a NON-urban backdrop (FINALLY! No more weird Photoshop-doctored edgy black and white shots of NYC with preciously colored and highlighted window panes or street lights, for example). Compared to the previous settings, that forest looked dark, foreboding, and nothing short of magical...
3) China’s Little Red Riding Hood manifestation in the middle of the forest clearing...her rendition swaps the original red hooded coat for a camel-colored cape and what were no doubt little black Mary Janes atop white frilled socks with BLACK LEATHER LEGWARMERS! (Let’s all give China’s stylist a respectable nod of acknowledgment since we ALL know that, according to the fashion magazines’ Fall predictions for this upcoming season, “capes are in.” How did she know so many months ago? Astounding.) By the way- Patrick and I, again, had a little fashion disagreement over China’s outer wear: I thought she looked great, HE thought she looked like a beetle or a tick- a tick who had perhaps spent the entire day feasting on the hide of a wildebeest. He then asked, “what happens if she falls over? She won’t be able to get back up!”
4) Abdi’s confession that he no longer knows what he even likes to make as an artist. Perfect! He’s now in the best spot to make himself extremely uncomfortable and most likely make something genuinely “his.” He’s in the perfect spot to try and “undo” what the show, thus far, has “done.” People always seem to confuse this sort of befuddlement as weakness and lack of artistic vision when it really is as integral a part of the development of an artist’s career as is the expansion and perfection of his or her technique. Finding this wall and ramming one’s self into it (and then doing it several more times- usually at LEAST once a year like a religious ritual) seems to me to be the point of art grad school. The tried and true, “Yes I KNOW you’re really INTO “exploring the complex relationship between space and time and life and death and politics and religion and materiality and surface and howitzers and pinballs and carrottops and training bras.....but...WHY?” I found that the majority of the things I SAID I really “cared about” in my earlier art were really just used as masks for OTHER things I REALLY wanted to dabble in but didn’t have the confidence to admit (my big lie was masquerading my gut-level obsession with girly-ness, trying to make myself prettier, and glitzy, vapid, fame n’ fortune which, at the time, manifested itself as me doing pseudo photo-realistic images of models from fashion magazines, as “talking about the objectification of women in the media”...Yeah...that was totally fake. It just gave me the license to make pretty paintings of women. I had to fully admit I was the one who desperately wanted to look like these girls and envision my life as theirs and THEN I started having more fun! PS- I bet in one year I’ll totally be making fun of what I think I’m doing now...)
5) Jerry’s criticism of Jaclyn’s cold installation that it displayed no record of her learning anything along the way or any “accidental discovery.” PS- maybe it was “cold” because she HAD a cold...;) Blame the WoA studio germs... better yet, blame Miles’ MUSTARD GAS! Anyway- while this comment speaks more to the type of work JERRY likes than to an overall rule of thumb for all artists in all situations, it resonated with me being another person who, as Jerry has mentioned numerous times in his writings, likes work that “tells a story.” It pushed to the forefront of my mind the goal of setting up a situation in the studio in which I am ALLOWED to have an accident or make a discovery or make a decision and then have to react with another one; to not have everything planned out. This is what Miles was trying to get at by making that crazy mark-making machine. He thought that, by making a machine that could make his marks FOR him, he would be unable to control the final outcome and thus free his work from seeming too regimented...this worked for Dadaists but in Miles’ case, the work seemed MORE regimented than before! I kind of liked it. In his quest to remove control, though, he really only removed himself one step away from the final outcome; placing between himself and his final product only one variable (the way the bleach passed through the pre-positioned holes and splattered on the paper below). The work seemed MUCH more “control freak,” actually, than everything he’d done up to this point. I was just so glad he included his crazy medieval “torture device” in the final installation. I have not yet decided, however, if I like some of Miles’ work because it’s thought provoking and “good” or because I’m just impressed with the building techniques he has which I do not. This is similar to the occasional problem I have with very tech-savvy art work. I have to ask myself, “am I impressed because I’m looking at 6 flatscreens and you happen to know HOW to make your movie run from one to the next seemlessly and I don’t or because what you’ve actually put ON the screen is interesting?” In any event, it really doesn’t matter- if I like what I’m looking at it shouldn’t matter whether I like it because I happen to LOVE cotton candy and you just so happened to use it OR because I love what you’ve done with it...PS- Nicole’s obsession with materials reigned in and confined by her desire to do something meaningful and family-oriented ran her into this same problem this week as well: lots of materials but...lacking either too much or not enough to really express anything more in and of themselves...
Hmm..I seem to have lost my bullet-point strategy...
What are we on..6? I don’t have any more “favorites” (other than the fact that I can’t believe Bravo stooped so low as to include a bare rump shot of Miles sashaying across the screen clutching his bedspread...whatev...let the freshman art girls get their kicks...) I’m just going to make all of 6 my brief (yeah right) feelings about the final work and selection of the finalists.
1) (bullet-pointing is back!) ABDI: I don’t care how academic it was, that piece was beautiful. Frame or no frame, it was ethereal, well-executed, and somehow “fit” with Abdi in a much more intimate way than his super hero fixation has. I’m just so glad he was able to showcase academic figuration and garner the judges’ respect. When it’s done well, people, you CAN still get away with it. There is something about Abdi that, in my “Jaime the non-MFA-artist” loves him yet in my “Jaime-the-MFA-artist” wants to make fun of him for- I think it’s his optimistic naivete. Maybe when I want to criticize him for it, I’m REALLY shifting into thinking in the way I think my MFA peers would surely think instead of how I really feel. I am conflicted about it sometimes when I watch him but I THINK I feel excited for him. I THINK I feel that there is nothing wrong with his naive, seemingly “young” pizzaz and bright-eyed desire to tackle the tricky subject of black make identity through his sort-of street-art style. I THINK I feel that his integrity toward his work is strong and his desire to improve is equally strong. I think his TECHNICAL abilities will, perhaps, propel him as he learns and grows conceptually into a version of himself who makes really poignant and impacting work. I think. All I know is I LIKE HIM!!! And he IS as nice if not NICER than he is on the show—ALL THE TIME!
2) PEREGRINE: Her piece reminded me of a Nick Cave sculpture for one thing. Secondly, I agree very much with the judges that there is something about her- an “artistic spirit”- that is intriguing and deserves more free reign. I think it’s her magical elfin powers. There IS something extremely enchanting and peculiar about her that you just want to know more about. I don’t think she’s really showcased it yet, but her skill with intimate water-based media produces the strangest and creepiest little creatures with a powerful psychosis. I was TOTALLY so pumped to see what she’d wear to the finale—keepin’ my fingers crossed for a rabbit tail or deer antlers...
3) JACLYN: Bless her heart (which in Oklahoma/Texas terms means someone is about to say something critical), I think she gave up. I think she’d had enough of not being able to make her photorealistic self-portraits. Can’t fault her for that- she needed to get back to her studio and her daily regimen. She said at that point she’d never had a solo show- well she just had one in NYC about two weeks ago so everything worked out!
4) MILES: duh. (And my fingers are getting tired and I already talked about him earlier)
5) NICOLE: Have to admit I was surprised she wasn’t headed to the finale. I swear Jerry has a crush on her. I think Peregrine has one too...AND Miles! Geeze! Halloween wigs 2010: The Nicole Tousled Top Knot! It was a toss-up between her and Peregrine, clearly. Perhaps the judges already knew what they’d see from her if she had several rooms to fill: tons and tons of material construction. With Peregrine’s recent jump into sculpture, however, perhaps they had no CLUE what she’d come up with using her tried-and-true works on paper approach AND her new 3D discoveries and wanted to find out. Nicole is awesome and will be perfectly fine. She and her design collective are continuing to make really interesting art objects, namely new jewelry based off topographical maps...SO cool!
Be sure to watch NEXT WEEK AS THE WINNER IS REVEALED! EEK! Patrick and I are headed to NY for a watch party at the Brooklyn Museum–so excited. Thanks to everyone who has kept up with this, by the way–I really appreciate it!!! Until NEXT WEEK....;)
7/29/10 Double Your Pleasure: Teams of Two to Tackle Duality. Episode 8 Reaction
I got a text message from a loved one about halfway through last night’s show saying, “This episode sure is boring.” I’d venture to bet that a vast majority of Bravo viewers might agree. I have to say, though, that her reason for thinking it lackluster is my reason for finding it more interesting. WoA is (kind of) losing its fluff…slowly but surely. As the competition is whittled down and the hour-long time slot is divvied up to allow for longer segments devoted to each artist, we’re allowed more time to peer voyeuristically and judgementally into the nervous, self-conscious, unsure-of-itself, contradictory, masquerading, second-guessing, usually-a-misfire-but-sometimes-genius artistic studio practice (and for the record: it only takes one “good” moment in the studio amidst weeks of “bad” to keep us coming back for more…It’s much like hitting a great shot in golf…according to my Dad whose bad golf game is evident to all for up to twenty-four hours thereafter). While the tried and true catty reality TV world comments were still apparent, this episode seemed to rely significantly less on them for filler. This is a good sign. It might not be as entertaining in the way that, say, Mad Men is entertaining (PS I could not BELIEVE Don was actually attracted to that bright young thing on Sunday’s premiere), BUT it IS doing a somewhat better job of revealing the very complicated, frustrating, and complex ways the six remaining artists hash out each challenge.
The thing that I’m finding the most interesting, and the part of artmaking that is very truthful no matter how much we’d like to pretend it isn’t, is that artists are SO SO easily swayed by opinion. Guest judge Ryan McGinness got onto Abdi for this saying that asking for advice in and of itself is the wrong answer and that he should be simply asking himself (when Jerry expressed his strong distaste for Abdi’s “amateurish” painting, Abdi replied with what I have to admit I wanted to ask the judges during MY negative crits, “What would you like to see?” While getting to the point of complete self-confidence and assurance as an artist is ABSOLUTELY a goal for which to reach, it’s next to impossible to fully reach it! The very fact that artists work, work, work in their studios supposedly doing their own things independently only to reach the ultimate goal of hanging them up on pristine white walls expecting people to come see them because it IS, after all, worth seeing implies that we are deeply entangled with the mess of approval addiction! You’ve done it before as I know I do ALL THE TIME: you make something that you think is totally awful and all it takes is ONE PERSON (here comes that golf analogy of the ONE good shot) to come in and say, “I really like what you’re doing in this one” and ALL OF A SUDDEN you’re willing to give it a second chance and not do what you’ve been wanting to do with it all along: trash it. I’m fascinated watching the artists vacillate between ideas desperately trying to find the right combination of 1) something that feels like “THEIR work” and 2) something they can sweet talk into fitting the challenge. We saw this in Mark’s willingness to go along with Peregrine’s idea to use him as the subject even though it made him uncomfortable. We saw it in Abdi’s struggle to find meaning in his piece and then taking up as his own Nicole’s abstract “allegory of Socrates’ cave” idea. We also saw it in Jackie and Miles’ discussions as they tried to come up with a logical way to combine their aesthetics while offering up and then later rejecting certain ideas (Jackie liked the idea of the mirror; Miles went along with it; Miles changed his mind later and at the last minute wanted to paint the entire structure with black tar and had to convince Jackie the mirror wasn’t the way to go). At times, the artists seem so self-conscious and so easily swayed by anyone’s opinion that it’s frustrating for me to watch. Then I realize, though, just how transparent they’re being and how I deal with the problem of going along with whatever people like or putting on the back burner those things they don’t on a REGULAR basis. If you’re an artist, you know exactly what I mean. I’d say if you’re HUMAN you know exactly what I mean.
Abdi, unfortunately, did create a painting that looked amateurish and didn’t resonate his subjectmatter at all, BUT, just as I liked Ryan the most last week for really showing the vulnerable and genuine side of his practice and the risks he IS, apparently, willing to take if need be, I liked Abdi the most in THIS episode. I believe him when he says he wants to be known as someone who takes his work very seriously and as someone who takes very seriously the desire to get better. Yes, he got backed into a corner and got stuck putting forth a piece he didn’t have a connection with because he was never able to construct a unique vision that was his OWN. Nicole had one right from the get-go about depicting social order and used it to fuel HER work and tried, being the great team player that she is, to offer a bit of it up to Abdi who didn’t make the connection. That’s because it wasn’t his connection. It became, as so many of the challenges have or had for all of us: an assignment.
I enjoyed certain aspects of Jaclyn and Miles’ piece but had trouble with others. I have to say that at first thought, Jaclyn’s overtly feminine image seemed too charged and yet not charged enough all at once. The image didn’t immediately confirm what her action was and the posing was so stereotypically lustful that I thought exactly what Jerry mentioned about the assignments of male and female being REVERSED: the nude painting of the splayed ecstatic woman being MALE (or male desire) and the impenetrable shielded walls being shattered in one spot and revealing soft, vulnerable drywall within representing some female shell. I WILL say that the pairing was the most intriguing and it DID seem like the two didn’t really “get along” because they were both so different formally. I smirked a little to myself when Jerry said this was a reason he liked the piece; hitting on that whole Men are from Mars/Women are from Venus thing…If Jaclyn’s piece were alone, though, I wouldn’t have been a fan. Work with that much sensual charge REALLY needs to be OVER THE TOP in my opinion and can’t stop short. I deal with this problem in my own work of making sure my interests are plastered over every square inch of the piece so there is no question about my intentions or sincerity…Of course I understand, though, that it is next to impossible to make ANYTHING over the top in the time constraints everyone in this situation is given…
Concluding with Mark and Peregrine’s Heaven and Hell…I have to really hand it to Mark for his willingness to put himself out there…What he did really took guts…(pun not intended=). You could tell by the tears in China’s eyes as she delivered his verdict that everyone, no doubt, respected the leap of faith he took. I understand what Peregrine was wanting to do with Mark and, while it ultimately didn’t work out and accidentally backfired, I think it was a generous idea to have for him. She thought this would be a great opportunity for Mark to really play to his strengths in Photoshop and digital manipulation and really let loose with them and, by turning the camera on himself, create a work infused with more of MARK than perhaps his past work had exhibited. Perhaps using himself as the subject would unlock a new way of representation that would allow him the freedom to change the way he used his skills in a new and exciting way. Unfortunately, despite his very commendable attempt, he applied the same formal strategies of straightforward representation in his image of himself (in his professional photography practice, though, his methods work extremely well). Peregrine’s work was a mess but she was well aware of it, I think, and tried to do the best with what she had. Miles was right in his analysis of the work in that she took what she had and applied her method to it…what came out in the end wasn’t pretty but it WAS hers…
Wanna know what my favorite part of this entire episode was? The montage of crazy artspeak mumbo jumbo! It’s a language that won’t get you ANYTHING or ANYWHERE in any other country except the “art world”- and even THEY’RE like the French! Even in France you might not get anything you want if you don’t say it properly (won’t get you a coffee, your check please, a hamburger, or directions to the nearest hospital or hotel…you’re on your own and you’d better pray you have a translation book)!
I can’t believe there is only one more episode until the announcement of the finalists!! This whole thing has BLOWN by! All I know is it looks like they choppered China and her YSL pumps into a forest…I cannot WAIT!
7/21/10 For TATE or Tots? Episode 7 Reaction
Tonight's Erik-less (and thus joke-less) WoA episode really tugged at my heart strings...I know, I know.. IT WAS SUPPOSED TO...All these seemingly impenetrable artists opening up about their less-than-idyllic childhoods? You'd have to have a heart of coal to not have felt some pang of empathy while watching the seven remaining artists struggle through the "childhood challenge" (I should mention, though, that I am such a softy I cry at Olympics commercials...Yup. And remember that recent Youtube video during the World Cup showing all the US fans across the globe celebrating when that game-winning goal was kicked? I cried then too....)
I have to admit my sensors were on pleasure overload just watching the first half of this episode...all the bright colors, dwarfed furniture, and neatly compartmentalized collections of neon, fluffy pom-pons (yes, people, "pom poms" IS technically "pom PONS"...don't argue with this retired dance squad captain) and rounded, shiny baubles? I was jealous they were even HANGING OUT in that space!! Seeing this episode makes me plan on trekking downtown to our own Chicago Children's Museum as soon as humanly possible (by the way, some of the lights on their neon sign are out so the museum currently advertises itself as the "Chic Children's Museum" after 8pm...) With all that visually stimulating, brimming-with-childlike-optimism-and-purity MAGIC all over the place, how could one possibly NOT dive right in and start reveling in all that creativity?
Well, unfortunately, this may be because few of the artists had such flowery and pouffy memories to fall back on when presented with the challenge to create a work that showcased their "first experience (s) that shaped them into the artists they are now". What seemed to happen in this case is exactly what happened in the shock challenge case: when given an "assignment" that wasn't necessarily all THAT narrow and specific, we panicked and reduced every imaginative direction down to the most literal, obvious, simplistic, and...well...juvenile approach. With the exception of Nicole and, to some degree, Miles (who sort of does his own thing anyway; sometimes to his credit; sometimes not), the artists translated the challenge into needing to make something that either a) looked like a child made it or b) looked like something a child would LIKE...all while funneling each artist's past history into the subjectmatter of the childlike-or-looking finished product. Peregrine did this extremely successfully and we all painfully watched the rest of the artists, Nicole excluded, struggle with it to varrying degrees.
Ryan is the person for whom I had the most sympathy this challenge. What Ryan ultimately came up with seemed like the very beginning of an exercise that would lead one TO creating a great work that draws upon childhood experience. It was, as one of my awesome SAIC painting advisors, Candida Alvarez,, calls, "a first vomit" (gross...I know...but useful as a visual aid with this sort of thing). It was as if Ryan needed to put himself through that exercise of 1) calling back memories he hadn't thought about in years and 2) trying to make art as if he were a child a couple more times through and THEN, when the lessons learned and floodgates burst through that process combined with his adult sense of self and artistic technical arsenal, he'd arrive at a work far better than anyone else's!
I really felt for Jaclyn watching her do what all of us would have done in her situation: try desperately to pin-point a couple meaningful memories and then from THOSE, pick the BEST one that could be squeezed into a relatively understandable and sucessful "Art Work." Sure, I could come up with a lot of really poignant and impactful childhood memories- perhaps the MOST pivotal, but if I'm unable to think of a way to translate them into a physical THING to put in a GALLERY that I could describe "artfully" if I HAD to, I'll pass them by for other potentially less meaningful memories that do happen to translate more easily visually. After discussing numerous elements of isolation and eating lunch in the bathroom stall (which really gave all of us such a transparent and TRULY vulnerable moment with her), she decided upon the tree theme. Formally, she could communicate it and it would enable her to work in the pipe cleaners Simon suggested she use. Unfortunately, it did feel "cold" as everyone mentioned. Jaclyn is a fascinating girl and I know she is capable of coming up with a work that really whollops you with its intensity of emotion, I just think she got stuck and ran out of time and, like I know I would have been, was swayed by Simon's suggestion of changing her approach and using the pipe cleaners and pom pons..
Lastly, Abdi ran into trouble the minute he asked everyone else what people had THEM draw a lot growing up. I totally understand where he was going with that (people always had me write their names in cursive bubble letters or try to draw Disney characters like Simba and Pumba...), but the minute he took their suggestions and incorporated them into HIS expression of HIS childhood, the work lost its intimate touch and wasn't infused with ingenuity. The judges were able to detect that absence instantly. It was very telling and an excellent inclusion in the episode that when asked which particular icons Abdi connected with the most, he pointed to all the super heroes. He should have just run with that! He started to do so with his initial drawing/painting on paper, but the forms felt too juveline and he was made self-conscious by Simon's criticism...If he had landed somewhere in between the two, he would have been spot-on! (by the way---while I am criticizing these artists' works, let's all pause for a moment and think of the likely train wreck I would have come up with in this situation...well wait...actually, I could have just used the piece I got kicked off with for this one! It practically would have fit right in! Hah!)
A few brief words about Peregrine and Nicole's work. Nicole really impressed me with her stubborn commitment to her aesthetic (this is a good thing). She was in no way phased by the fear of having to work outside her comfort zone and instead did exactly what Miles very rightly stated was the goal of these challenges: to make them work for your art instead of making your art work for them. I loved what Will Cotton said about Nicole's piece not revealing too much of itself; how it still maintained its mystery. I'm going to have to start examining my work in terms of a classy vs promiscious girl! The boys don't stick around if she gives it up too easily! Peregrine played to her strengths also in this challenge. I knew from the moment I found out what it was that she'd most likely hit it outta the park! While the My Little Pony was cute (when my parents thought I had an unhealthy number of Barbies and wouldn't let me have any more, they switched to those...I had TONS piled up under my bed...all with ratted hair!), it was the tiny chalk cigarettes, paper candies, and tiny delicious-looking drugs that sold me. Those cigarettes were just perfect...and right up Will Cotton's alley too, by the way. The portion of her childhood that she chose to reference, too, was extremely moving in a genuine and NOT gimmicky or disrespectful way. Peregrine is excellent when it comes to "petite, charming, bright" and then "eerie, oh wait, what IS that" work. I was so happy she won! She and Nicole did a great job!
I'm so glad you're getting a little more face time with each artist to get a little bit more of an idea how complex and unique each is..I have no idea exactly what next week's challenge is...but with Mark looking like a genie with pierced nipples, I am NOT gonna miss it and neither should you!
7/15/10 Public [Sculpture] Enemies: Episode 6 Reaction
Last night’s sixth episode challenged the remaining eight artists to team up in groups of four and create an engaging public sculpture for a grassless, gravel-filled “park” (as “park-y” as you can get in Manhattan if you aren’t CENTRAL Park, I suppose...THAT park has the monopoly on all the trees..THIS “park” had...well...a chain link fence and some surrounding construction from what I could tell...). This challenge was certainly one that I enjoyed watching but, per usual, had pretty much no bearing on whether an artist is a good one or not AND was one that I was thanking my lucky stars I was not around to have to live through! Numerous times during the episode (namely, all the parts having to do with sawing, cutting, measuring, sanding, and having to make one’s self look occupied and participatory) I said to myself, “ I left at the PERFECT time...” (By the way, I thought that only until I found out what NEXT week’s challenge was...THEN I thought AH! If I could’ve just lasted TWO MORE “WEEKS” (aka about four more days!)
I’ve got to admit, and perhaps this is just because I am not, shall we say, “lumber-inclined,” that I was pretty impressed with what both teams were able to come up with in less than two days’ time. The pit-fall of this challenge as it pertains to embarking on the task of identifying (instead of “THE NEXT” several of us liked to call it:) ANOTHER Great Artist is that if you did not happen to have a lumber-inclined individual on your team, you were pretty much screwed. Sorry, folks, I don’t think “mural” would’ve qualified as “public sculpture.” Any individual who most likely would have risen to the top of this situation would have proven his or herself to be a diverse and multi-skilled artist...not necessarily a great artist. By the way, I am not implying last night’s winner, Nicole, is NOT a great artist because she won this challenge...PS- how freaking adorable is she when she gets excited and jumps around like a free-spirited little Earth-fairy? Someone should tell Natalie Portman if she doesn’t watch her back and make sure Nicole has no more public reasons to get excited, she’s gonna be out of a job FAST!
Anyway, I was extremely impressed by the curve of the Blue team’s sculpture. I thought the form was interesting and definitely stood out in its lyricism and organic shape compared to the rigid buildings surrounding it. While I of all people definitely understand the need to “decorate,” I didn’t think the piece needed any of the charring, any of the tacked on wood scraps, or any of the metal scales on the back. It seems to me that, with public sculpture, the only reason to add additional aesthetic elements beyond the simple form is because they ENHANCE the public’s relationship TO it. For example, Chicago’s “Cloud Gate” (aka “giant bean” sculpture) features a highly polished reflective surface. Yes, it’s beautiful and “reflects the Chicago skyline and the colors of the seasons” blah, blah, blah..but its beauty is NOT what makes it a popular sculpture. It’s a must-see on every Millennium Park visitor’s list because it allows them to snap distorted photos of THEMSELVES when crowded under and around it (photos that inevitably wind up as Facebook profile pics for about one day until they get swapped for the cooler version of the group of tourists with martinis atop the Hancock with the blurry lights of the city below). Chicago’s nearby Crown Fountain isn’t popular because of its strong, monolithic towers that loom above the park but because each features giant changing images of peoples’ faces spitting water into a shallow pool below. This provides visitors the perfect place to let the little ones splash through the water while they digest their fried chicken salad from Bennigan’s and rest their aching shoulders weighed down with bags of souvenirs from the Art Institute (if you’re a young, angsty art student, however, it also provides the perfect place for you to kick off your shoes, lay in the grass, and try to convince people you’re really enjoying that novel while you’re really just staring at the free spirited 21-year-old with her Urban Outfitters layers, bare knees, and funky camera trying to shoot pictures of her friends frolicking in the water…) In short, the best public art gives people a space in which to watch themselves or watch each other…without looking like stalkers. No extra bells or whistles required. Oh, and if you can make it look pretty, bonus points for you. While I have a feeling the Red team’s structure might have looked a bit messy and unprofessional up close (hand-painting plywood and trying to create straight edges with your brush on angles is always tricky…it’s a lot like what happens when you tell yourself you don’t need painter’s tape to paint the trim along the floorboards of your living room…), their work seemed to garner the most effortless interaction. It welcomed the possibility of multiple strangers being able to comfortably sit on or around it without feeling too awkward. The Blue team’s classy tree house, however, seems perfect only for loners who happen to nab the spot first during lunch hour or for doting snuggling couples who don’t want to be bothered…This is not a bad thing- I know I would like to hop up there and kick back and take a nap if I could- it just made the Red team’s more inclusive design seem more like the fitting winner…I was impressed all the way around, though, with what both teams created and really enjoyed trying to imagine what my suggestions might’ve been were I there and what I would do if asked the question, “Who do you think should be the winner?” or “Who do you think should be sent home?”
There really isn’t much point in devoting too much time to the fantastic drama that unfolded within the Blue team…It really DID start to feel like a reality show, though, didn’t it (as if it hadn’t already)? It’s easy to point fingers and pronounce certain individuals as protagonists and others as instigators, but at the end of the day, none of us were there and none of us know exactly what went down, how much sleep everyone had, what they’d eaten that day, or whether or not they were fighting a headache…I will say, though, that it is a shame Erik was sent home SEEMINGLY because he didn’t get along with the rest of his team. I understand SOMEONE had to go home but it just doesn’t seem right to be sent home for not playing well with others when the intent of the show is to find a great artist. While Erik IS, I can personally say, an extremely nice teddy-bear-of-a-tough-guy (Patrick and I hung out with him and his lovely girlfriend, Susie, after an opening John had at Western Exhibitions a few months ago), you technically do not NEED to be a nice person to be a phenomenal artist. Sure, it is best in life to go about one’s business WITHOUT being a cactus BUT this is not a prerequisite for artistic greatness. Erik and Miles didn’t get along. Big deal. Nothing wrong with either of them in my opinion, although I can see the distinct differences that might cause friction. It is a shame Erik felt so insecure about his lack of artistic training because it ALSO is not a prerequisite for artistic greatness (hello….Darger? ‘Nuff said). I can sympathize with his insecurities, though, as I merely scan through my Artforum seeing how many names I recognize in any given number of pages and then proceed to rack myself with guilt for feeling like I should know many, many more especially since, I am certain, everyone I went to grad school with probably knows ALL of them…You know the drill…
I am definitely going to miss Erik’s hilarious commentary, although I am happy Ryan is looking like he’ll be able to step in and help with the comedic void that was left when John first left, and I sincerely hope Erik continues to pursue his artmaking career and doesn’t give a flip about not having formal training..As for the other contestants, Peregrine really showed her gentle, level-headed, and compassionate charm last night and I love that about her—I got the chance to see that while we lived in our upscale cracker jack box for several weeks, and kudos to Nicole for really using her design sensibility to propel herself forward in the competition! I’m looking forward to next week and let me tell you, when I found out what the challenge was I actually yelled because I would have loved to be a part of it so badly…Will Cotton is guest judging….I’ll leave it at that!
7/13/10 Wheel of Fortune: Episode 5 Reaction
Hey guys! I've pasted below my blog response on bravotv.com's Work of Art page about last week's piece. There is just SO much to say and quite frankly, I don't feel like rehashing it all again- for more comments, though, please check out my interviews with New York Magazine and Artinfo about my experience! Thanks Rachel and Emma for great interviews! I do plan to continue blogging about the remaining episodes here so keep coming back to check in!
After receiving numerous questions from many of you, I feel we must get one order of business out of the way immediately: "car dancing" IS simply dancing in your car! Come on people, you've done it before! I've probably made fun of you for it at a stoplight somewhere because while it is EXTREMELY fun it A) NEVER looks nearly as cool as you think it does and B) is slightly distracting to the snickering people around you...But then again the joke is on THEM because while they are groggily lamenting their 9 AM commute downtown, YOU have decided to make the best of the unfortunately traffic-jammed situation so TEN POINTS FOR YOU!
If only my misinterpreted car-wreck of a piece, "Turn It Up" could have garnered a few more points with the judges last week! While I sarcastically call this piece awful, let me be perfectly clear in saying that if I were able to keep any of the work I made during the competition, it would be THIS ONE! Yes...I said it and I'll proclaim my love for its ridiculous, literal hilarity from the top of the highest mountain in Chicago (which would be the recently renamed Sears Tower I suppose)! While the work WAS devastatingly literal (Guest Judge Richard Phillips was spot-on) and perhaps did not succeed in meeting the judges' standards for the challenge, it DID meet MY goal for this particular challenge which was to make the most ridiculous thing I could POSSIBLY make. Now we're all in agreement, right? Good...
At this point in the competition, I was beginning to wonder whether or not I'd ever meet eye to eye with the judges over my work. It had become very clear to me what whey were wanting from me: a work infused with a sophisticated and complex surface and use of materials. At the end of the day, if you have these elements, your subject matter doesn't really matter so much. Because I was unable to provide them with a visually stunning image, I left them with nothing to work with EXCEPT my naive, sunny, cheesy, girly-world narratives (something that, when revealed through an enticing mash-up of swirling, layered formal elements is legitimized and reinforced instead of laid bare as juvenile). As I've mentioned in other exit interviews since last week, the strength of my studio practice lies in my ability to build a story through building up the painting's surface; in approaching it like a PAINTING instead of a PROJECT. This takes time. It takes time for me to sit and stare at the thing, to completely wipe things out, to start over half-way through...When an artist has time to do this, the viewer is presented with a complicated and multi-layered record of his or her THOUGHT PROCESS. While I absolutely should have been able to come up with visually interesting work in the time provided, I was not able to do so while using my current studio practice methods. I would have been better off abandoning my "style" right off the bat and trying to work in an entirely new and unfamiliar way than being so concerned about trying to maintain my "artistic aesthetic" (whatever THAT means) and squeeze it into the time allotted for each challenge.
In the end, "Turn It Up" was all about me. I made it for no one BUT me. After realizing that I was either going to have to COMPLETELY revolutionize my approach to artmaking for the remainder of the competition OR go down in a burst of hot pink flames and sequins and head happily back to my kitchen, cocker spaniel, cheesy exercise dvds, boyfriend, and several episodes left of Mad Men, I went with the latter and wouldn't change it for anything! How truly grateful I am for this amazing experience, for the criticism from our judging panel and the fuel it has given me, and for the opportunity to meet thirteen seriously hip cats---ENJOY THE REST OF THE SEASON and God bless!
7/1/10 Shock and Awe SHUCKS! AGAIN?! Episode 4 Reaction
Wow..this episode was bananas, right?!! You have to admit, you WERE shocked a little- most assuredly NOT by the work itself but perhaps moreso with 1) how so many of us strangely turned into freshmen with a homework assignment and wound up defaulting to the same similar idea of "shocking" 2) how awkward it was to hear Simon mention where his first erection came from or 3) just how freaking hilarious the episode was and how many wacky and stupid and not-for-the-kiddies things you saw in any snippet of five seconds! I know Patrick and I laughed throughout the entire thing and if I counted the number of times I hung my head in embarrassment for whomever was on screen trying to take him or herself seriously, I'd still be counting by the time the apocalyspe arrives....I sincerely hope my grandparents' cable temporarily died up in Tacoma, WA last night...
In all truthfulness, the most interesting thing to me about this challenge was seeing Andres Serrano's alligator boots and pink satin-lined pirate coat at Phillips de Pury. I sounded excited when China revealed the challenge, but on the inside I knew we were ALL in for trouble...(On a side note- while watching the episode last night over pasta with pine nuts, spinach, and turkey sausage and upon seeing China come teetering around the corner in that hoop skirt, Patrick quipped, "WHAT is she wearing?! She looks ridiculous! Seriously...WHAT IS SHE HIDING UNDER THERE and why can't the rest of us have some?!?" I thought she looked cute..especially with that cat eyeliner...) A challenge as specific and charged as this one forces artists to most likely attempt something they wouldn't normally do. Let me be clear, though: being forced outside your comfort zone to take on a subject in a NEW WAY; with a conceptual or formal approach perhaps never before taken, can sometimes birth ground-breaking discoveries and is an excellent exercise for artists to undertake when things are seeming a bit stale and dry, THAT BEING SAID, however, forcing artists to create work that generates a response unlike any response they passionately care about pigeon-holes them into creating something they aren't naturally connected to...In short, it delivers work in which the artist is significantly less genuinely "present."
In all fairness, however, the judges never told us "make a shocking piece of art ABOUT something that is shocking." Why we all ran in that direction, I have NO idea...We all hopped on our soap boxes for the most part and felt the need to make public service announcements when we could have run with the idea in an entirely different direction that could have provided us MUCH more creative room to breathe. For example, when you see one of Koons' blow-up pool toy sculptures and you discover that, despite its immaculate disguise, it is NOT inflated plastic and light as air but is in fact polychromed aluminum STEEL, it IS shocking! When you recognize Joe Zucker's pixelated image of a face is really cotton balls dipped in paint, it's shocking! Things can be delightfully shocking not necessarily disturbingly so...I wish I had approached the challenge in this manner. I think the judges wished we all had. I think the producers were thanking their lucky stars, however, that we had NOT! We gave them GOLD this episode, people!
Regarding my piece, I never should have defaulted to an image with which I have already familiarized myself in previous work...I've already done one large-scale Last Supper drawing on pink paper before and, when paralyzed by the thought of having to make something shocking and never really having cared about doing such a thing, I fell back on an idea in my arsenal that seemed the most controversial FOR ME and that, I THOUGHT, could work in my current situation. It IS true that at times, narratives pop up in my playful paintings that poke fun at the fake, gaudy, plastic Christian "religion with a capital R" that we have all witnessed or have perhaps perpetuated without meaning to..I know I have. Living in Chicago far away from my hometown in Oklahoma (where it's just politically EASIER to align one's self with Christianity) and maintaining my spiritual approach to life has been difficult at times and sometimes I wish we could come up with a whole new name for it... "Wait...you mean you DON'T hate gay people? You AREN'T a dumb wanna-be suburban housewife who HATES people from other countries and wants to BOMB the living daylights out of them?!" What I've realized, though, is that this "different" approach to Christianity that I have (a lot of others feel the same way, by the way) and this genuine struggle I feel wtithin myself to NOT screw up Christ's image any more than I already have is something that is perfectly fine to just come out of me as a person..I don't have to force it into my work to try and hammer home a point. When I do, the work seems like I'm finger-pointing which is the EXACT thing I'm getting onto Bible-Belters for doing! I KNOW the imagery was NOT shocking to anyone...I didn't really expect it to be. More than anything, I just wanted to make something that a) sort of looked like what I'd make in my studio if there weren't cameras over my shoulder and a clock nipping at my heels and b) was thought-provoking...something that wasn't initially so dark and disturbing in terms of its formal presence but that, upon closer inspection, might make one question what was running through my head as I was making it. There is enough work in the world that smashes you over the head with a hammer and makes you feel awful for all the charities you aren't donating to and there is an important place in art for those works...I just don't want to take that approach. Serrano's comment to me implying I didn't possess the character needed to produce shocking art sat perfectly fine with me (as long as we're talking about the kind of shock that makes you feel creepy and icky and horrified). Just as I felt last week, though, I wish I had let go a lot more and hadn't been so fixated on the "assignment." This is the big problem with these specific types of challenges...
A few comments on my colleagues' work: I have a lot of respect for both John and Nao as artists. I was really sad to see them go even though it meant I got to stay...(to be honest, the fact that the judges seemed so displeased with something that FORMALLY seemed sort of close to my regular work made me begin to think there might not ever be a piece of mine upon which we would all agree approvingly...)I have to hand it to Nao for going through with that voodoo/swamp-woman/mystic/Huck Finn performance. While we may not ever understand what's running through her head, she consistantly maintained her sense of self and artistic identiy throughout her presence in the competition...I remember vividly her telling us the night before this challenge, "Let's all make the piece we'd want to go home on..." That's exactly what she did and I really took her advice into the next challenge...I thought it was the best idea I'd heard yet. I couldn't believe John was sent home after having just WON a challenge!! I really felt for him this week because I think he and I were in the same freaked out boat...."Quick...we have to make people FEEL SOMETHING.....what do we do!?!?!?" I've seen John's work in exhibitions in Chicago and it really is a joy to see in person. It looks nothing like what he made last night. Such a shame. Our comic relief left us that evening...
BE SURE TO TUNE IN NEXT WEDNESDAY FOR MORE TWISTS AND TURNS!!!!!! I make my FAVORITE piece next week!
6/24/10 Work of Art Episode 3 Reaction
I have to say right off the bat: I should have done a lot better on this week’s challenge. I mean COME ON a book cover for a classic novel???! Most of them FAIRY TALES? This challenge, BY FAR, was the most up-my-alley so far….While my cover for Dracula wasn’t terrible and WAS much closer to my normal work than last week’s electronics challenge, I got too distracted by the excitement of a PAINTING about my subject and lost sight of what John truly understood: book covers need to be clear and concise not brushy and swirly and grandiose…Honestly, my work on paper didn’t really even succeed as a great PAINTING either. It seemed to me to exist in a strange in-between place between not-so-bad book cover and not-so-bad painting…Thus, I wasn’t in either the top or bottom three.
The truth is, I was so concerned after my critique last week that I had made a work that didn’t really feel like “me” that I was determined to FORCE my “style” into whatever challenge came around the bend this week. I wanted so badly to showcase the scale and expressive, sweeping, airy quality of the water media of my regular work that I didn’t even consider for a moment taking a different, more simple approach. Since the judges had seemed responsive to the size of Abdi’s first portrait of Ryan and Ryan’s large-ish piece of Abdi didn’t do badly either, I thought I really needed to go BIG (Texas IS right next to Oklahoma so the whole “higher the hair, closer to God” mantra migrated over to us Okies and somehow backpacked its way all the way to Chelsea and into our studio). I realize I’m being hard on myself here since I wasn’t in the bottom three, but the truth is, given a challenge like this one, I really should have come up with a way to win…or at least with a piece that was up to par with my standards for my large paper works. Had I more time, I would have incorporated many more layers and created a more sophisticated color scheme showcasing much more than just tried and true red, white, and black (in my defense, though, it’s DRACULA- and Dracula for a commercial audience for that matter…you HAVE to have red, black, and white…).As I stepped back from the piece, though, I remembered that Susanna Coffey, a NY and Chicago-based painter for whom I assistant-taught an observational painting course at SAIC during grad school, always told students never to use black because it just looks ashy and chalky in the end…(she always hated Prussian blue too and Viridian because if you gave it even an inch on your canvas, it would take a mile…) I did think SO much watery black looked weak and diluted and, well…ashy. Mark’s flat, opaque use of black in HIS Dracula piece was the better choice, though, because it was used as a GRAPHIC element…Anyway, this week’s piece was at least a step in the right “Jaimelike” direction…but I really hate that it was just “safe.” I’d rather be in the bottom constantly for making something that at least makes the judges feel SOMETHING strongly than to just be “safe.” Although I will say, that particular non-elimination round night WAS awesome because I actually got to work out and got to sleep before 2 am (immediately after ravaging our kitchen’s stash of sugary “so-modified-it’s-not-POSSIBLY-natural-trail mix” TRAIL MIX)!
Quickly, a few thoughts on some of the other work: John’s winning piece was BY FAR leaps and bounds beyond the rest of ours in meeting the challenge… I mean come on- how many people that use hand-written text in their paintings make it look anything other than junior high chicken scrawl, let alone GOOD!? It was pristine, precise, deliberate, smartly-edited perfection! I can’t wait to buy it! It was sad to say goodbye to the vibrant and brimming-with-life Judith whose combinations of brightly-colored skinny tank tops and opaque leggings never ceased to amaze me (and make me WANT THEM!) and whose charming eccentricity and tendency to ramble (HEY! Me too!!!) leave a gaping dim hole in their absence! While it probably was not the wisest choice to spell her novel's title backwards on her piece, a part of me really cheered her on in that and cheered her on as she left us because she was headed back to the NY art scene to operate on HER OWN TERMS! You go, Judith (PS- is anyone else amazed by her Madonna-esque yoga arms? Forget Michelle Obama's guns, JUDITH needs an entire website dedicated to hers)! I definitely didn’t think Peregrine deserved to be in the bottom three unless it was solely because the content of her piece didn’t communicate in any way the content of her book (which I, admittedly, have not read, so I would not know). That “burn it” line at the end of the critique wrap-up?! Ludicrous! I remember it was about this time after this challenge that Peregrine and I really looked each other squarely in the face and said, “Seriously…what are we doing? We are good artists. We are good women artists. The boys have won THREE in a row…Let’s up the estrogen and quit playing around with these silly little “assignments” and show these people what we REALLY do.” (Sounds valiant and rallying doesn’t it? Makes you want to grab some flag and hoist it up and march forward to….SOMEWHERE! Yeah…we thought so too…We didn’t really know what it MEANT exactly but it felt good to say it!) Be sure to watch NEXT week to see if we actually DO IT!
6/17/20 Work of Art Episode 2 Reaction
Oi vey, people. Things really started to get interesting for me with this episode. First of all, let me say, you all KNEW a challenge like this was coming. This classic Project Runway assignment came almost exactly at the point in our lineup as I imagined it would. Early enough to use the pure entertainment value to keep new viewers coming back for more and not too late in the series when the show actually has to start providing its artists with the opportunity to make work they'd actually be PROUD of. The purpose of challenges like this one is, of course, NOT to make anything earth shattering or, in our case, really remotely successful as art pieces, but to provide the audience with a healthy dose of plain-and-simple entertainment. Period (one could argue that's the sole purpose of EVERY challenge in this type of situation). I used to think to myself all the time while watching PR, "what in the world would I make out of toilet paper? (the answer is probably a homecoming queen sash and be done with it...) What I think we wound up with this week was a small handful of art works that were "good"....."given the circumstances." I know I felt this way. I was actually quite proud of my piece...(but here it comes) given what I had to work with...This is NOT a good feeling to have when putting two days' worth of work and about 6 hours of sleep in front of a gallery full of people!
What I chose to work with were two objects full of domestic implications: vacuum and lamp (that lamp, by the way, certainly had a hole burning into its shaft since I'd been eyeing it the entire time John Kessler was talking..it also suffered a serious injury right after Simon delivered the now iconic, "Your time starts...NOW"----someone at the front of our thundering buffalo heard trampled it to the ground and put a massive dent in the globe...Amidst trying desperately to come up with a concept while Kessler and Simon addressed us in front of the junk pile, I did manage to hang onto one particular line from our guest judge that directed my entire endeavor henceforth: remember these "objects have a life...they may have been under a Christmas tree...they may have belonged to a dead man..." I immediately began thinking of the house in which my two objects had lived and wanted to highlight that environment and feeling and memory instead of the particular objects themselves. For the record, I also grabbed three blow dryers, two coffee pots, and one other vacuum cleaner with a different colored handle...in case the first one didn't work with my eventual color scheme (here I go- thinking like a painter...something Kessler very smartly mentions as problematic later in my critique).
What I wound up with was much more of an installation than a sculpture....the only "scupltural" aspect to it, I suppose, was that it was three dimensional. I also planned it with ONE ideal viewing point: dead center (a view that the camera, unfortunately, never really got). If you stood directly in front of the piece, you'd see that the lamp, having most likely shown brightly in the same spot in the house for decades, had "faded" the color from the decorative painting behind it and the vacuum below, having most likely vacuumed the same floor for years on end, had "eaten up" the cheesy decorative tiled pattern. I thought that through this I could communicate the feeling I often have when looking at the inanimate objects in my parents' home that have begun to show their ages and have left their mark on their surroundings and that often make me think when I'm bored and waiting for my family to finish getting ready so we can go eat at Chili's, "man...if you could talk..."
The judges, of course, didn't buy it. Part of me wonders if this was purely because the piece really was devastatingly boring or because it didn't feel like something "Jaime Lynn Henderson, the girly head-in-the-clouds painter" would make. From the discussion we had in front of the work, I think it was a combination of both with a higher percentage of the latter. I'll flesh this particular commentary out later this afternoon! What I had originally written in this paragraph I was asked to remove...
One last defense and I'll move on: Jeannie got onto me because she couldn't hear the whirr of the vacuum or the buzz of the lamp...This was particularly frustrating because part of the challenge was that we were not allowed to plug anything in (Peregrine's tv sets mysteriously worked because of a) batteries or b) her magical elfin powers)! ...In any event, their critique actually encouraged me to hit the ground running for the next round by freeing myself up to do something that felt "more like me" because, to be honest, would I ever make a work of art out of a lamp and a vacuum? Absolutely not. As I looked over my shoulder at it as we dragged ourselves over to begin critiquing Abdi's piece, I did have to admit to myself that, while I was grateful I came up with SOMETHING that I'd put a lot of time and effort into, it didn't feel like me and looked like someone else's.
Which leads me to Miles whose work I will only touch on briefly because I've been rambling on for quite a while already...What I found most interesting and praiseworthy about Miles in this challenge (and really as a competitor as a whole) has hardly anything to do with what he actually makes. It has to do with the relationship between what he wants to make ANYWAY and how it fits into a challenge. Do I think Miles really wanted to make a piece about lack of sleep? No. I think Miles wanted to make a piece that let him screenprint something, that let him do what he does really well which is build random wooden structures out of the most basic materials, and that, for some unknown reason, let him make two anuses (wow that word looks weird in the plural form..) out of concrete. He wanted to do those things FIRST...and possibly for weeks the ideas were rolling around in his non-OCD head (I don't know how seriously I take the OCD thing, by the way...but I have no right to make that assumption...) but then he found a way to MAKE that desire FIT into the constraints of the challenge. This is why the electonic component of his piece consisted of him simply piling all the leftover pieces we all didn't use UNDER his bed structure...as an afterthought...NOT as the foundation for his whole piece. What you wind up with is an artwork that naturally FEELS more genuine, "quirky," and idiosyncratic because it is basically an artwork the artist might have made in his own studio ANYWAY even WITHOUT the challenge. For many of the rest of us, certainly myself included, we got so stuck on the challenge side of things that we made items that lacked our natural fingerprint. I didn't think Miles' piece was that great...but his attitude toward taking on challenges was brilliant..almost irritatingly so. I think he should have won simply for outsmarting the rest of us...the little brat...(joking). I do NOT think Trong should have been eliminated and, honestly, I don't think Judith or I should have been in the bottom three. My least favorite work of the night was Ryan's vacuum piece. He has amazing skill as a representational painter but this piece looked like a Pollock blanket got thrown over a vacuum cleaner. I will add, though, that he seemed to really have a BLAST making it...which does count for something in my book.
In any event- things are definitely getting interesting! I truly feel so fortunate to even be able to have these sorts of conversations about the whole thing! Hope you can all keep watching!!
6/14/10 So"They" Say:
My darling mother, who has already appeared once in this blog, has been oh-so-kindly keeping me up to date regarding the latest descriptive adjectives bloggers and critics have been using to describe me after viewing the W.O.A. premiere last week...Ready for the colorful list? Here we go: fluffy competitor, Stepford wife, glossy-haired, southern belle, sacharrine (I DO adore desserts), misunderstood ingenue, not just a ditzy blonde barbie-wanna-be Christian, the boyfriend-obsessed Christian, a girl who dresses like she's going to a ladies' luncheon, fussily done-up (that was Vogue , by the way..does that mean they're going to cancel my cover shoot? Dang it!). Actually, my Mom will keep you posted through me...she yells up from the living room "Honey! Someone called you _____!" (then cackles). I'm curious to see how much more of that I can take between now and when I head back to Chicago on the 21st...Get excited for the next blog entry after the airing of EPISODE 2 (watch 2 previews here and here) airing this Wednesday, June 16 at 9pm CST!
6/10/10 Work of Art Episode 1 Reaction
After driving sixteen hours in pounding rain with one awesome boyfriend and one well-behaved (but unfortunately gassy) cocker spaniel, I made it to my parents' house in Lawton, OK just in time for the premiere! My adorable Mom had decked out the whole house with balloons tied to clusters of my old craft paint bottles, a splatter-painted table cloth (which she made HERSELF), a poster board with taped-on enlarged W.O.A images of me she'd pulled off the web, AND my favorite dessert: angel food cake trifle with strawberries, banana, and cool whip. This retired military wife party-planner-extraordinaire didn't stop there either...she had everyone in my family use crayons to draw a portrait of me in honor of the big event. I'll be posting those images soon. Let me tell you what, I was in the presence of an entire Henderson house-full of prime Work of Art contestants last night and felt like the luckiest girl on the planet..
...UNTIL nausea set in. As the unbelievably cheesy yet oddly charming opening credits began to roll, I suddenly realized two things: 1) Shoulda' gone to see Vesna and get a root touch-up before this was filmed and 2) holy crap...I have ZERO control over how I am about to be portrayed. I can kick and scream and shout from the top of the tallest mountain that "I swear I'm NOT that ditzy" or that "that was only one TENTH of my sentence" or "Nao is actually extremely NICE" and it won't amount to a hill of beans...And with that, I took a deep breath, plugged my nose, closed my eyes, and stepped off the plank...and OMG...that water was COLD!
After watching the surprisingly hilarious first episode and seeing myself reduced to being "more than just a blonde, ditzy, wanna-be-Barbie Christian" but an "artist, "in fact, I immediately tipped my hat to the genius that is Bravo's reality show structure. I was grimmacing a little while tipping it, but I tipped it nonetheless. All fourteen of us fit perfectly into nice, neat little packages and exhibit personalities that naturally mix like oil and water. It's not that the editing brings out sides of us that aren't SORT OF there already (I mean come on...they can't MAKE us say something that never technically exited our mouths), it's just that it makes it so crystal clear the types of stories we're each "supposed" to be telling about ourselves; stories that, in real life, are so much more complex and unique than could ever be reduced to a few sound bites.
This great-for-tv but bad-for-artmaking fact brings to the forefront the obvious and unavoidable: Work of Art:The Next Great Artist is a reality tv show first and foremost. It is funny, witty, sexy, provocative, utterly baffling, frustrating and does all the things reality tv shows are supposed to do (like make you and your friends raise your fists, wine glasses, cheap beers, or bags of popcorn and scream "WHAT?! I CAN'T BELIEVE that!! I COMPLETELY disagree and NOW, I'm going to hop on my computer and tell everyone as such! So THERE)! That aside, I truly do believe the skeptical art community will find things in the weeks ahead that seem more familiar and feel more legitimate to them (and by that I suppose I merely mean they will hear the crit-speak words they crave, occasionally see the more intellectually stimulating work they champion, and basically experience something kind of like whatever art school they either just dropped out of or graduated from). The people who will enjoy this show the most, however, are people who champion CREATIVITY and who watch this show with a bag of popcorn instead of pen, paper, and an Artforum. Work of Art really does provide a little something for everyone. It will NOT, however, provide EVERYTHING to ANY someone. I think it's fantastic that this show is giving people at least SOME insight into the ways in which artists make work and interact with each other and the world. Let's face it, people...we're an interesting group of cats.
A few thoughts on the judging, as many of you have expressed disappointment with how it was completed this first time around. I can tell you that what you see, unfortunately, is a mere snippet of the somewhat lengthy, somewhat genuine, and somewhat legit DIALOGUE that took place between artists and judges before each piece. You think about how YOU'D condense a twenty minute critique with legitimate critics and earnest artists into twenty seconds MAX that 1) makes enough sense to the general revenue-generating public to keep them from saying, "what the heck is POST-feminism" and changing the channel AND 2) includes enough honest artistic critique to keep your art audience satisfied...that's a tall order right there. I do applaud Bravo's attempt. I will also say that the judging in the first episode seemed to fall very much on the traditional, conservative, "what-you'd expect-if-you-heard-"portrait"-and-had-never-studied-contemporary-art" line. This was surprising to me given the credentials of our truly fantastic panel of judges. That being said, however, I do feel Miles' portrait of Nao was by far the most visually stunning of our group. Genius? No. Infused with an appropriate balance of art-world-loving-tension and general-public-easily-recognizable-portrait-features? Yes. And bingo...Not SO plain Jane straight-up portraiture that the well-informed artists out there would stick their noses up at it, but also not SO "weird" that it would repel the general reality tv audience. In all honesty, I actually quite liked Nao's portrait of Miles (minus the tiny photo of him she tacked up in the background. It'd been perfect, though, if Urban Outfitters used it to sell emo artist goggles) If you'd been in the room with him and watched him ricochet all over the studio, you'd realize that mapping his behavior and portraying THAT instead of his facial form might be the most fitting way to go. I was very surpised the judges had such an issue with it not fitting neatly into the "portraiture" category. Her now iconic closing line, "I'm not responsible for your experience of my work" registers with me too, by the way...sort of. If you're going to stick your art out there on a white wall where people are supposed to come look at it and think it's important, I feel you are obliged to CONSIDER your viewer's experience. However, because our feelings about a work of art are ALWAYS colored by a combination of our unique past experiences, I do not feel the artist is to be held entirely RESPONSIBLE for the experience of the viewer...I want one of those t-shirts, by the way...
Lastly, regarding our saying goodbye to the elegant and chic, Amanda. I was very sad she left us so soon. I don't think she deserved to leave first. While I will admit that upon looking at her portrait of me I did not see what I expected, it was very unclear whether our portraits were to exhibit our PERSONAL style or take on that of our sitters'. I fully supported her taking an abstract approach to my depiction because, after all, she's an ABSTRACT PAINTER! Like my surprise with the judges' trouble swallowing Nao's non-representational pill as "portraiture," I was equally surpised in this case that the issue never revolved around whether it was a good or bad abstract painting of me, but that it did not "read" as a portrait...
I hope you all can watch next week...I can tell you...things will get much more interesting. Remember: POPCORN and friends, people! No Artforum!