Thursday, November 17, 2011

Half-ass TV recap: Work of Art Ep 6

Street Dealers episode! Get your street art! The artists are teamed up in twos by spray-painting host China Chow's paper-mâché-like nesting-doll dress with matching colors. It makes sense at the time but I'm not going to go into details--I'm half-ass as you know. Sucklord sprays on some neon-green nipples and even mentor Simon de Pury jumps in with his spray can, and we're off!

A long brick building in Brooklyn is offered up to the four teams who have 30 minutes or something like that to come up with an idea and did they go shopping? I can't recall. Anyway, it sounds, as usual, impossible. They work all day in the studio and get to tackle their walls starting at 6 P.M. and going until 3 A.M. Plus one morning for touch-ups! This is not a show for art slackers, so kudos to casting for finding these hard-working types.

Team Sarah and Sucklord are having a one-sided flirtation going. Guess who's doing the aggressive flirting? The sequestered, sleep- and information-deprived artists have needs. But Sarah is not focusing on that right now. Right now, she's coming up with some city-as-labyrinth concept and Sucklord nods enthusiastically, promising to build some 3D elements that will be glued on the building. This does not sound good.

Team Dusty and Young are having a tough time collaborating. "We're different," says Dusty. Young notes that Dusty's good at building stuff, so they set out to make some staircases that will serve as an interactive component. Young likes to get everyone involved. Meanwhile, they'll have to think of some art to go with the staircases. That's an unusual approach to street art.

Over at team Sara and Kymia, they focus on their family-immigrant backgrounds. Kymia's family is Iranian-American and Sarah's, Filipino-Canadian. They hone in on an uprooted family tree, getting pulled along by an alien-like businessman from a bureaucratic world. This is a traditional muralist approach, political but also personal. They get to sketching and both are talented illustrators, so we'll see what they come up with together.

Meanwhile, team Lola and Michelle are giggling and whispering and drawing a lot of tiger-striped penises. Lola wants to use the cut-outs of the building to make "windows" into some neighborly debauchery that viewers can peek in on. Michelle is on board and lots of erect penises ensue. To Bravo's credit, there are lots of close-ups of said penises, and I suppose everyone in standards and practices have basically thrown up their hands, shrugging off any censorship boundaries at this point. What the hell! It's art! High-fives--with a tiger penis!

Lola is given the "arrested-development brat" edit this time around. She and Michelle make Kymia cry when they ignore her pleas for the use of a scanner. Tiger-penis bitches! Lola opines that Kymia and Sara's piece is so "serious" and art doesn't have to be heavy and morose. It can be light and fun. True. But making someone cry is not everyone's definition of fun. Lola calls Kymia a worry-wart who needs to lighten up. Tee hee, says Lola as she recounts how she used to glitter-bomb subway cars when she was 14 and how her mom taught her to be "brash" by cutting into long lines throughout childhood. Now her mom looks like an asshole too. Nice work if you can get it, editors.

Young ruefully notes that all the teams seem to be beavering away while he and Dusty can only saw and hammer without a concept to work on. Later, in the penthouse of purgatory and coffee, they realize that Young lost his father around the same time that Dusty became a father. A concept is born. Self-portraits and discussion bubbles will get people talking (and chalking) about this universal life and death experience. During judging, Jerry will proclaim it "The Circle of Life." Bingo--Young is really good at this show.

Everyone out on the street! Sucklord glues little sticks together that will pop out of Sarah's black and white maze. Although it rains, the sticks hold forth and he adds some painted rats and cheese to, I don't know, give the thing some life I suppose. This is one flat, uninteresting plan of action, despite the 3D qualities.

Lola and Michelle have printed giant stickers of their illustrations (they really did need those scanners) and are pasting and painting away. "Whoa, this is a really big wall," notes Michelle. True--mural-making is daunting. Their work looks like a perverse squiggle-sketch party and would probably make for an exciting Exotic Erotic Ball of some sort. Not so sure about how "street" it is. They've also included cut-outs of accessories, alcohol and more penises, so viewers can join in on the sticker fun.

Kymia and Sara get to work on their gigantic uprooted tree and creepy-guy. They paint REALLY BIG, not using color so much as ghostly shading. It's a good use of the very wide, not-so-high brick wall. It's not an easy shape to compose in. Dusty and Young's piece also uses the space well. Their profiles say, "I recently lost my father / I recently became a father / How does it feel to become/lose a parent?" The center bubble concludes, "It changes you." Although mentor Simon de Pury doesn't find the audience-participation aspect necessary. Young knows his stuff and stairs and sticks of chalk are in place.

Show time! Everyone out in the street. People are indeed interacting with the Young/Dusty wall and it gets all good and chalked up. Judges make a note of that. Lola and Michelle decide it's OK to tag not only their own work with their debauched stickers, but Lola encourages others to tag the other artworks as well. "It's a part of street art," she explains. Yes, but this is commissioned, judged work. In San Francisco, a city of zillions of murals, people who tag good artwork are generally considered assholes who cause more work for the artists, who have to pay and put in the hours to clean up their walls. One tag leads to many more and a good mural can be completely defaced within a couple of weeks. So anyway, Lola is shown putting grounded-out cigarettes and penis illustrations on Kymia's and Sara's uprooting guy, causing Kymia to sigh and peel them off while worrying about their paint application before judging time. There you have it: a microcosm of the street process within 30 seconds. Nice work, editors.

My fingers are getting sore from typing, so I'll wrap up. Young/Dusty and Kymia/Sara are in the top. Young and Dusty win and I forgot to mention, the winners get $30,000. Young is so on a roll. Dusty, being an elementary-school art teacher, can't wait to get his hands on some cold, hard cash. Awww. Kymia and Sara are praised for their big figures. Both teams used their personal stories to collaborate well with each other. Team-mural challenge, accomplished.

In the loser corner, Sucklord pretty much knows his goose is cooked. This is fourth time in the bottom and how many chances can he get? Lola and Michelle's piece is deemed shallow and juvenile, although in judge Jerry Saltz' entertaining blog, he says it was his favorite, being lively and perverse. Here, he's not given the positive reviews-edit. And the general consensus is that their piece fails to draw people in, therefore landing flat as a voyeuristic concept. Is it judge Bill Powers who notes that their cigarette-smoking tiger figures look like Lola and Michelle throwing a party that no one came to? Harsh!

Predictably, Sarah and Sucklord are dragged over the coals for their flat, boring piece. Sucklord especially is found wanting, having given in to Sarah's concept without adding anything substantial to the table. I guess the judges expected him to provide urban mythological creatures of the labyrinth or something. But c'mon--the guy is known for designing wee action figures. He's no muralist. Most of us aren't. But he takes the blame, like the Sucklord that he is, and graciously is tossed off the show. Oh, Sucklord! We hardly knew ye! "The force was not with him," says Jerry. Oh, Jerry, if you really wanted to put The Sucklord down, you would have said something along the lines of, "We were hoping for 'Empire Strikes Back' but instead got 'Phantom Menace'" Ouch!

Next week: Oh no--automobile art.

I couldn't make any street art this time around for the WOA inspiration segment of the recap. Plus it's rainy today. So I'll leave you with some San Francisco street scenes and murals from the Mission District that I took this summer. Ya'll need to visit San Francisco and go on a mural tour, yes you do.

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