Bravo’s latest and greatest
Bienvenidos, my multi-TVgasmic friends! It’s only been a few weeks, really, but it feels like an eternity since I had the chance to spew verbal diarrhea at y’all. Miss me?
Since I’m a glutton for punishment, I said “Hells yeah” when offered the latest mish-mash Bravo competition show, Work of Art: The Next Great Artist. I come from a family of artists. You’d think this would make me squeal with delight, having the opportunity to learn more, see more, do more with art. Um, no. Actually, because I see a lot of accessible (read: “local”) art, I’m actually a bit of a snob about it. You can’t just paint a circle on a canvas and call it art, no matter what bullshit story you make up to go along with it. From what previews I’ve seen, there’s lots of bulllshit coming our way this season. Wear your BS goggles and follow me!
China Chow is our host, taking us through the art world with 14 aspiring artists. The end game? A chance for a solo show at the “world famous” Brooklyn Museum (so famous, I’ve never heard of it before tonight), and $100,000 from Prismacolor–this season’s Gladware.
The opening montage treats us to a vision of jackasses. Some have normal names (Nick, Ryan, Amanda). Some don’t (Trong, Peregrine, Nao). I wonder how many of those abnormal names are contrivances? Any guesses? For show credits, it’s actually not too nauseating. I remember hatin’ on Dan Jiu Jitsu’s stupid dance during Launch My Line, and I can’t find anything to hate here. Yet.
Just kidding, I hate this already.
Time to meet these contestants. First up is Abdi, a young fella from a small town in PA. His portfolio showcases some pretty cool portraits–one of him as a superhero, running down a hallway with a superhero’d Obama.
Save America, please!
I’m already impressed. Each contestant was tasked with creating a self-portrait for this first episode. His is another superhero dork portrait. I love the energy.
He makes me want to listen to Outkast, for some reason.
Next up is Nao (pronounced NAY-oh, not “now”), who fancies herself to be a performance artist. One of her previous pieces, shown on video, is her wearing a plastic bag full of water over her head, spazzing out, and ripping it open. And then there’s some sculpture of a TV with bright plastic shit all over it.
Please, just a few moments longer!
She tells Bravo that it’s okay to bring her on board, even though she’s “too established”. Honey? You aren’t established. Oh wait, I’m not done hating her yet. She comes into the work space, “meh”-ing the other artists’ work as she passes each one. She tells us that because she’s awesome, she’s okay with being generous with her criticism. Oh yay.
Meet Ryan. He’s a painter of realism. He “lives to create, and creates to live.” There’s nothing terrible or awesome to say about him yet, though his self-portrait looks amazingly like a mirror image of him. He’s got talent.
I think he lost 10 lbs since this portrait was done.
Jaclyn’s next. She’s a whore. Oh, I’m sorry, she’s walking like one down the street in a tight dress. I don’t actually know about her sexual proclivities. Her self-portrait is some stylized Britney/Paris/Lindsay image of her getting out of a limo with a star covering her exposed twat. Lovely. It seems most of her work is hypersexualized. So, clearly, she’s working through some inner drama and dragging us along.
As prudey as she wanna be
Hi, Miles. Miles is a small-town boy who looks like he just woke up. His title card introduces him as an installation artist. I know what that means, but I don’t see it in his work they flash on screen. I can’t pin him down yet. Maybe I never will. Let’s move on.
Did he squash his breasts against the canvas? Huh?
Wake up! Grab a brush and put a little makeup! Hide the scars to fade away the shake-up! (YOU WANTED TO!)
Amanda is our abstract artist. She smooshes paint onto a canvas willy-nilly and that’s that. I kid, there’s more to it than that. I kid, there’s not. Well, I guess we’ll have to see. (I actually like what I’ve seen, I just have to give someone a paint-splat comment.)
Then we meet Nicole, who is going to be our resident bullshit artist. I think she’ll do whatever the fuck comes to her, make up a story that goes along with it, and be done. I think her self-portrait includes snippets of Facebook. Help me. Nao makes some comment about not getting her piece, and there we have our first artist-on-artist conflict of the season. Wahoo!
Erik is up next. He’s a painter, and his stuff seems busy and yet kinda cool. They show his casting audition, where the art experts are all kissing his ass and he’s all “gee, gosh” because he’s totally untrained. Hmm. His self-portrait, though, is gruesome. And so we meet our Tortured Artist, no?
Then there’s Judith and Trong. Neither one gets a ton of screen time at first, and they kinda look alike, despite the fact that one’s a short, older white woman and one’s a tall, skinny Asian guy. Nao makes bitch-face at Trong.
Not that different.
Peregrine swoops in from the underside of the building’s gargoyle. Oh wait, I mean, she walks in and says hi. Not much to say about her. Jaime Lynn also makes an appearance, with her pop culture, lacking-originality self-portrait. Mark shuffles in to meet everyone. He’s the token chubby guy. He immediately bashes Erik’s gruesome self-portrait, calling it angsty college shit.
Not really a surprise, is it?
John’s the last one, I think. He jokes about working in a studio with lots of bugs, so he’s glad to have the opportunity to show to a wider audience. His stuff is a little surreal, yet pop culture, yet…I don’t know. Graphic artist. Whatever. I didn’t go to art school. I think I like it, though? Nao thinks he sucks.
Is that the decision wheel from Launch My Line?
China Chow and her man-friend enter the gallery and ask the artists to gather ’round. Jaime Lynn seems to know who Man-Friend is. I don’t. Oh, he’s Simon De Pury. Of course. He’s introduced as a leader in the international art world. Pardon me as I Google this bastard. Ah. So he is a kingpin of the art BUSINESS. He’s also an excellent conductor of an art auction, apparently. He can tell great art in a split second (hello, Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink). And speaks four languages. Well, bonjour, Simon.
As a bitchy item of note, both Simon and China have a squinty left eye. That is all. (Yes, I’m perfect.)
I mean, really, LOOK.
Simon’s role in this show is to be the art world’s Tim Gunn. He’ll provide advice, guidance, and moral support for our artists along their journey. Unlike those asshole twins, DuhSquared, who just sneered and simpered away after asking passive-aggressively snotty questions.
Make it work!
China’s nothing to sneeze at, either. She grew up in the art world and apparently hob-knobbed with Warhol and Keith Haring and a bunch of other names I don’t recognize. Sorry for my plebian-ness. When I Google her, I get a bunch of porn sites, so….draw your own conclusions. Oh wait, her dad ran the famous Mr. Chow restaurant in Manhattan. THAT’s how she knew all those guys.
Time for these bozos’ first challenge! They are to create portraits of their competitors. China reminds us that a good portrait captures the essence of a person’s being, not just their likeness. I think most artists would know that already, but perhaps some drunk asshole watching Bravo needed that assist. Though, I have a feeling Jaime Lynn needed the reminder too. Want to bet she’ll just do a business meeting doodle of someone? (Confession: that’s all *I* would be able to do. SexyPanda has artistic talents; SexyPanda is not an artist.)
I’m glad there’s no bullshit about who gets paired with whom for the task. Remember during Launch My Line, they’d randomly take some crap off a table and then learn later that because they were holding alfalfa sprouts, they got the zebra? Yeah, I don’t need that with my art, thanks. So, the pairings are: John and Trong; Jaime Lynn and Amanda; Judith and Jaclyn; Nicole and Peregrine; Miles and Nao; Erik and Mark; and Ryan and Abdi.
Simon is so excited to introduce the contestants to their workspace. I wonder how much he’s getting paid to be there–wouldn’t a big mover and shaker in the art world need to be out doing that, and not tending to a flock of reality show contestants? I guess his presence gets him advertising, so it all works.
Is Abdi part cuttlefish? No? No one gets the science humor I am so generously providing?
Anyway, Judith introduces herself to Jaclyn (the street walking Lindsay/Paris wannabe star twat) by telling her about her “pussy pieces”. Apparently, in the 70s or so, she did a series of pieces where there’d be a photo of a cat with a caption about a pussy. So it was about genitals. Get it? Jaclyn either doesn’t or thinks Judith is a loser.
Oh, then I laugh. I laugh when Judith tells Jaclyn that she sees Jaclyn as a “proud pussy.” Jaclyn is offended and doesn’t understand why Judith would say that. Other than the….star twat self-portrait she created for the first episode of the show.
Trong and John are getting to know each other. John’s pretty open (clearly), and Trong’s a little more reserved. He’s originally from Saigon, came to the US as a refugee when he was five. His pieces are quite varied, from broad brushstroke oils to mosaic installation art. John hopes he can capture Trong’s “cool hipster” quality.
Nicole and Peregrine meet up. Peregrine talks without moving her mouth, and yet we somehow understand her as she tells us that the Whitney museum bought some of her work at age 22. Well, girl, what the fuck are you doing here??! Get your Maggie Gyllenhaal face back out on the streets and make some art! She tells us she enjoys hermaphrodites. Of course.
So, can I see yer cans?
Ugh, is she hitting on Nicole? She just asked Nicole to take off her clothes so she could see her back, then told us, with her doll-mouth, that she undressed Nicole with her eyes already. Well, then don’t ask her to undress, you ass. The little we learn of Nicole is that her dad had a wood shop in the garage, and her work is a combination of art and design.
Jaime Lynn and Amanda have a chat. We see some of Jaime Lynn’s illustrations, and they’re interesting, but are they art? I’m not sure. She’s over-accessorized and kinda ditzy. I want her to surprise me by being awesome, but I have a feeling I’m in for great disappointment. We learn NOTHING about Amanda.
She really is just standing there like that, posing while talking to Amanda. So odd.
Nao and Miles don’t seem to connect. She’s bustin’ out of her self-promoting t-shirt (her full name across her chest), while Miles builds a table. Oooookay. Can’t wait to see what scathing commentary Nao dreams up to deal with Miles abandoning her.
Erik and Mark sit awkwardly on a couch to talk about their hopes and dreams, as well as this assignment. Erik feels intimidated by all the other artists, since he’s a self-taught guy whose work never left the house before this show. Mark had shitty things to say earlier, and I hope he lightens up a little. Erik’s not a bad guy. Mark is itching to win this whole show so he can get out of current day gig, which is flipping burgers. No wonder his upper lip is sweaty.
Oh yay. I forgot how long the commercials breaks are on Bravo. We’re only 15 minutes into the show, and I feel like I’ve already written a novel. When they run 5 minutes of commercials, I breathe a sigh of relief.
So, before the break, we were told there’d be a twist. What was the twist, you asked? It was a guest appearance by Sarah Jessica Parker herself, one of the executive producers of the show. Jaime Lynn and Peregrine both gasp with excitement. The rest of the group is like, “oh wow.” With exactly that tone of excitement. In fact, Miles asks, “And you are?” Lovely. See, artists can get away with being assholes because they’re “artists.” Manners, Miles. Manners.
I’m surprised my ears aren’t still bleeding from SATC2.
SJP explains that she’s from a family of art lovers and adores the arts. She exhorts the artists to be brave, be competitive, and be themselves. Kick ass!! After she leaves, Miles admits that he was nervous, and that’s why he was a douche. He claims to be embarrassed. I hope he’s sincere. Though I do love a villain. But that’s why Nao’s here.
The artists have ten hours to complete their art for this first show. Abdi and Ryan get crackin’, with Abdi taking photos of Ryan smoking. He notes a delicious irony that I often wonder about–the vegetarian that smokes. He won’t eat animals, and he’s trying to eat healthy, and yet he’s polluting his lungs. Never makes sense to me.
Jaclyn Star Twat finds herself bumping up against her norms when trying to capture Judith Pussy Portrait’s essence. She’s used to working with young women. Oh snap! She uses SJP’s latest shill (HP computer, front and center) to erase Judith’s wrinkles.
And Judith works that pussy.
So far, Nicole’s portrait of Peregrine is awful likeness-y. I don’t see a whole lot of essence. And we all know Peregrine wants to see Nicole’s essence, ifyaknowwhatI’msayin’andIknowyoudo.
Miles makes a darkroom for his screens–he calls it a fort. Nao is amused by his regimented set of steps, and she maps out his movement throughout the studio as her portrait of him. I actually like that idea of hers. Damn it, is she going to make me like her??
Mark and Erik both like to play with juxtaposition. Erik has Mark pose with a clown nose on, while Mark photographs an angry Erik with the word “kittenzz” tatted across his knuckles. It’s cute, it’s nice to see them working so nicely together, but I am struggling to find the art in it.
Miles decides to Wisconsin Death Trip Nao. In other words, he’s doing a death portrait of her, in the style of the 1800s. He says that the only way to capture her is to make her dead. He delivers this deadpan. He believes it. I laugh. Meanwhile, he’s power-washing the shit out of something, and it’s irking the other artists. All of them except Erik, who loves that Miles is a weirdo. By the way, did Miles bring his art materials in a tractor trailer? Abdi is pulling out brushes and paints from a small carry-all, and Miles has a darkroom and power-washer set up. This is strange.
Peregrine’s got Nicole all nekkid on her canvas, and Miles likey. Nicole is a good sport about it. I’d probably be feeling sick to my stomach if some dead-mouthed woman was paintin’ me naked. Then Judith busts out a little bitch-face when she snarks on Jaime Lynn and Erik for being amateurish. (And I agree with her. Though I don’t agree with the gigantic pink whiskers she glued to her canvas for “proud pussy”. Jus’ sayin’.)
Simon comes around to check out everyone’s work. He has that ridiculously awesome speech pattern that some Brits/Europeans do, where he over-emphasizes words in a sentence for seemingly no reason. You can’t quite get it until you hear it for yourself, but it somehow reminds me of Monty Python, which makes me smile. I hope you all get to hear it sometime.
First up is Amanda’s abstract piece, trying to capture the essence of Jaime Lynn. I gotta say, I don’t get it. I don’t think Simon likes it either. It’s just some orange leaves on a blue background. You can’t shovel enough bullshit in my direction for me to believe this garbage is a portrait. Amanda tries to save it by saying that she used blue tones because Jaime Lynn’s wearing blue. Fuck you.
Not a portrait.
Simon wins me over when he succinctly smacks Nao down a peg. He loves her portrait of Miles in concept, but visually, it’s nothing. Nao looks like she wants to argue, but she just smiles and condescendingly says, “okay.” Simon further explains why she needs to be careful, and Nao interviews to let us know that she actually HAS been knocked down a FEW pegs and is worried. This competition is a lot harder than she expected. Okay, there, I like her now.
Erik’s next on the tour. Simon seems to like Erik’s work, but cautions Erik to not overdo it. Erik is a little cocky (but I think in a completely self-effacing way), joking with Simon that they should go hit the strip clubs since Erik’s all done. Simon snorts and chirps, “No strip club tonight!”
Miles shows off his darkroom fort to Simon, who’s impressed with the high level of technique employed in the screening process. He hopes Miles’ output is as exciting and first-rate as his technique. Miles is cocky, in a totally cocky way (as opposed to Erik’s self-effacing way), and is all, “thanks, man” upon receiving a compliment from Simon. MANNERS, Miles.
That’s enough for meeting and helping people today, I guess. Simon reminds the artists of their midnight deadline, then tells them where they’ll be staying for the duration of the competition. I’m pretty sure he called it a Beaver House. I’m sure that’s a historical home or something, but I will still giggle like a 12-year-old anyway. Oh yeah, and the artist who wins tomorrow night? Has immunity next week. Woot!
Ten minutes to midnight. Amanda’s fretting because her abstract piece still looks nothing like a portrait I’ve ever seen. Miles is buggin’ because his bulb for exposing screens broke. I forgot to mention earlier, but he’s got OCD, so this set-back really triggered some OCD stuff. He ain’t happy.
Welcome to the Beaver House! I’m sure Star Twat feels right at home. Erik’s a dirty truck-sleeper usually, so he’s excited to have a house to sleep in. Miles is still OCDing about the broken bulb. Everyone goes sleepytimes, then it’s already morning and HOLYSHIT there’s a show tonight. Back to the studio.
I’ve noticed more than a few artists using a technique that I aaaaalmost consider to be some kind of cheating. What do you think? Someone takes a photograph of someone. Then they blow it up to a much larger size and paste it on a canvas. Then they paint over TOP of the enlarged photo. Sure, they’re painting, and sure, they’re adding their vision to a plain photograph, but….it’s that, like, coloring books for adults? To be fair, I think Abdi is using a photo as a guide and painted his portrait of Ryan from scratch, but Star Twat’s portrait of Judith is a straight-up coloring book.
I also have strong opinions about Photoshop, to be revealed another time when the artists reading this forgive me a little. Then I’ll bring on the hate again. (Sorry, Mom.)
We’re spending a lot of time talking to Amanda about her pastel abstract bullshit. Does this mean she’s going home? Or is it Miles, since we’re seeing so much of his struggles with Nao’s screened portrait? I’ll go with Amanda. Oooh, the reality show social injustice of cutting a minority first!
Why does Jaclyn look like she slathered herself in Vaseline? Is she that greasy? Is she going for the dewy look, but gone overboard? It’s gross. Her ‘tude is gross, and her lube is gross.
Also, I am SO GLAD that this show doesn’t seem to have stupid gimmicks or tag lines. Simon comes in to tell them time’s up, and what does he say? “Time’s up!” Oh, it’s refreshing. I’m sure that when the artists are cut at the end, there will be some sort of tag line, but for now, I’m thrilled that we’re being left in peace. (What do you think it’ll be at the end? “Your show has closed.” “Your gallery is closed.” “You suck and gotta go.”)
Oh Bravo, you love to give us a little 30-second teaser between 5-minute commercial blocks. It’s the “We’re Back, No We’re Not!” segment. This week, it’s Nao, Nicole, and Judith choosing who gets the single room in the Beaverhausen. Nicole won the game of Rock, Paper, Scissors, but in the end, they gave the room to Judith because she’s old and crusty. Judith doesn’t mind.
Time for the big show! China and Simon bring out the permanent panel of judges. China is wearing a saucer for a hat. The first perma-judge is Jerry Saltz, senior art critic for New York Magazine. He explains to us that, to him, art is a way to show everyone else in this world what YOUR world looks like.
Oooh! I love art!
Next is Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn, an art advisor and gallerist. That means nothing to me, by the way. I could own a gallery and give advice on art and do the same thing, right? Anyway, her face moves like a puppet when she talks. I hope she ends up being cool.
I am slightly concerned about art!
Finally, we have Bill Powers, co-owner of some gallery.
I joined the squinty left eye club. Why? Because it’s art.
I’m sure these guys are going to be pissed when they Google themselves and see that some anonymous jackass referred to them as puppet-faces or shrugged off the fact that they own “some” gallery. Oh well. Suck it.
Now we follow the artists and judges as they peruse the show with a bunch of wine-swilling art nerds. I immediately peg Peregrine as that type of falcon artist that does nudity just because it’s shocking, not for any other reason. It’s like cursing–it’s a crutch. Nicole, Peregrine’s subject, is like, “Sure, it’s me naked, but it’s not ME.” Meanwhile, Peregrine is all masturbatory about how awesome she is and how everyone is clamoring to know HOW SHE GOT TO SEE NICOLE NAKED. Um, no. No one gives a shit.
Otherwise, the art is art. It’s stuff on walls and on tables. It’s interesting, maybe, but some of it is just art class projects to me. (I say this as a woman who submitted two art class projects to an art show earlier this year. I know exactly how bad I suck, and I have a pretty good idea of how bad some of THEM suck.) I’m really interested in the bullshit opinions of the art critics. Like, really interested….with a grain of salt.
What I loved? Abdi’s piece. He has the ability to turn a fairly wide brushstroke, a splotch of paint, into an integral part of someone’s perception. (See, I can sling the BS too.) Seriously, though, I love his style. I also liked Miles’ piece quite a bit. And…that’s about it.
I see the show is following a more studious Project Runway/Top Chef tone, where six contestants are chosen to face the judges. Three suck, and three rock. Which three are which? Again, so glad this isn’t a shlocky Launch My Line or Shear Genius! Anyway, the six chosen are Abdi, Erik, Amanda, Mark, Miles, and Nao. Those who weren’t called are safe.
Miles is up first. Saltz is a little saltzy (thank you, I’ll be here all night) about Miles’ use of plastic wrap, as well as his killing of his subject. Jeanne and Bill, though, jump in to defend Miles. They think he captured beauty in Nao as well as her essence. Suck it, Saltz!
Nao’s piece is next. I do a full-on gasp during a part of her critique. Oh, Nao. You’re a bitch. So, basically, they don’t get it or they don’t like it. I mean, I think they get it. But they don’t like it. They all agree, it’s just not a portrait–it’s a series of dots tracking Miles’ movement. (Man, my apostrophe rule usage is getting a workout tonight.)
Nao “respectfully disagrees” and says the photo of Miles is behind the big dot board, and if the viewer misses it, IT’S NOT HER FAULT. GASP!!! Saltz suggests that Nao is a little defensive, and her retort is, “I’m not responsible for your experience of my work.” Even Miles, he of no manners, cringes.
Erik takes a beating from the judges for his weird clown portrait of Mark. Basically, the panel accuses him of being the second coming of John Wayne Gacey, the serial killer who painted portraits of clowns.
And they’re totally right.
Erik immediately breaks out his “I’m new to the art world!” card, which the judges receive with a sneer. Saltz continues with his critique, attacking the medium, the style, the presentation. Erik says he doesn’t understand because he’s untrained. SMACK, from Saltz. Can’t use that. Try again. Erik DOES try again, with more “I’m just a widdle baby, I don’t know art,” to which Saltz roars, “That’s three times.”
I’m gonna piss my pants.
Saltz jokes/threatens that Erik gets five strikes. Erik treads carefully now, explaining that a professional may have one way to do something, but with an amateur, the possibilities are endless. Saltz shuts up. I don’t think he accepts it as an answer, but he’s thoroughly scared the shit out of Erik and knows it, so he backs down.
Now Mark’s portrait of Erik. Mark wins! Just kidding, but the judges all love it. Remember, this is the heavily-enhanced Photoshopped photo of a thuggy Erik with “kittenzz” written gangland-style across his knuckles. I do like it, and I think Mark worked with Photoshop very nicely. I will begrudginly call it art and will leave my Photoshop rant aside for the night.
What I want to know is, how did Mark get Erik to look like Justin Timberlake?
Oh, Amanda. Your abstract painting doesn’t do it. The judges all tell you so. You know it. Are you going home?
Really no good.
Abdi! You’re my favorite! The judges HAVE to love you. If they don’t, I’ll cut ‘em. Anyway, let me get out of the way! So, yes, the judges love Abdi!
So good!!!! I love this!
Discussion time, definitely Project Runway-style. Director’s chairs, sparse set. I am pretty sure I can’t really capture too much awesome here about their discussion of the art itself. If any drama pops up, I’ll let you know. Miles, good. Abdi, awesome. Mark, pretty good. Erik, no good. Nao, nao good. (They thought she was combative and impervious to constructive criticism. Which should be fun for future shows, if she lives to see the next episode.) Amanda, oh, you’re leaving tonight, honey.
So, who won? oh, I can’t wait. Tell me! Tell me!! NO! It’s Miles! No, no, no. It should have been Abdi. Pout. Well, let’s make me happy and prove me right by sending Amanda home. Sorry, Amanda. Nothing personal. Anyway, the judges take turns reading scripted lines to the three losers, and now the show all of a sudden feels so contrived. I hate contrivance! Anyway, I’M RIGHT! Amanda’s going home. (Tagline: “Your work of art didn’t work for us.” Ugh.) Amanda’s bummed, but she bows out gracefully. With class. *approving nod*
And, this season on Work of Art!! We get T&A, arguments, soiled panties, paintings of Jesus on the cross, and otherwise a bunch of really sassy snarky comments that I can’t wait to hear. YAY!
Well, that’s the first episode, folks. What’d you think? I have to admit, I was expecting a gory, tragic mess of the Launch My Line variety. I expected more bullshit, tons more crazy, and less art. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised by (some of) the quality of art we may see this season. And it looks like we have enough douches and bitches to keep us tuning in. Gotta love Bravo! Come back next week!!