Friday, December 23, 2011

Half-ass TV recap: Work of Art Season 2 Finale

That's it. No more Work of Art to kick around anymore. I haz the reality-TV sadness. Now I guess I'll have to actually make art, instead of watching others struggle with the process on the small screen. Anyway, Kymia's the winner and this episode didn't have a lot of dramatics or tension other than the Simon de Pury home-mentor visits, so here's a quick review.

This boat by Kymia was well received
The three remaining artists, Young, Kymia and Sara have three months and $7,500 to create a final show for Simon de Pury's gallery, where they will be judged harshly and one will be named the winner of $100,000 and a show at Brooklyn Museum and a cover story for a magazine that isn't getting the promotional push it probably hoped for when giving out tens of thousands of dollars to challenge winners over the past few weeks (particularly Young, who made $50,000 by last count). That magazine has the word "Blue" in its title and that's all I can tell you. Very artful of Work of Art not to make that promotional push so blatant but the same can't be said for the Fiat 500 and its 100K prize, which became an auto-parts challenge in itself and kind of a weird tie-in with a fine-art reality show (will bohemian types drive Fiat 500s? I guess we'll find out during the next sales quarter).

What was I writing about? Oh yes, Simon visits the three finalists' homes and meets their significant others and discusses their works-in-progress. Young's cute boyfriend shows Simon some story books that Young made in second grade. Neither book is as compelling as my son's first-grade masterwork, "The Lonely Cheese," but perhaps I'm biased. See, there's this lonely cheese and he's walking down the street, trying to figure out how to draw a tree...

That's for another post. Simon is not excited about Young's idea of a life-sized gate-post kiosk, which he'll photograph in a mapped journey from his home base of Chicago to New York City, where he will wow us with art. I get the feeling that much of Young's upbringing has been all about Young. Simon gravitates toward an altar Young has made in honor of his recently deceased father, in the corner of his studio. He encourages Young to perhaps consider going in a more personal direction and focusing on some of the ideas he's used in the altar. That could get tricky.

Kymia and her boyfriend are living at his parents' apartment in Manhattan and perhaps "overstaying their welcome," she muses. Her work will have 15 pieces, consisting of large drawings and sculptures about life, death and the after-life. All spiritual aspects Kymia has been pondering. Simon takes a look around and finds only one drawing to his liking. Leaving "Fourteen more pieces to go" for a complete show. The sculptures--one of a young girl with crystals popping out of her eyes, and a cartoon-like ghost creature--he does not like, especially in conjunction with the drawings, which are very detailed, intricate and myth-based. Kymia's eyes immediately tear up (she's a self-admitted cryer) but she takes the critique like a trouper, realizing she has a crap-load of work to do in only a month's time. That's a recipe for panic, right there.

I confess!
Meanwhile, Sara's filmed herself in a performance piece, dressed as a white, pointy-beaked bird thing, asking people to write down and stuff their confessions into her paper-mâché stomach-hole. Her show will focus on confessions and redemption. She was raised Catholic, you see, so all this actually makes some sense to me, a lapsed Catholic. It's a cult, man--don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Anyway, she's looking very Hieronymus Bosch in her surreal costumed finery. She's also got a big spider-web sculpture going on, and a mattress with a gaping vagina-like hole that will be filled with syringes (because a lot of the confessions had to do with addictions). The written confessions themselves will be hanging in the show, as well watercolors depicting anonymous folks on the street, who watched the performance. Simon is liking the costume but doesn't think all the elements work together. He finds the figurative paintings to be similar to her earlier work on the show - uh oh! Sara sighs. One month left to finish this one up.

All three artists must be working 25 hours a day to finish what essentially will be all-new elements of their show. I've only shown photos in group exhibits--I can't imagine having an entire room to fill up with art with my name plastered on it. Must be very daunting the first time around. I think I'd work in wallpaper, just to have backup coverage. Andy Warhol did it with cows--that guy was amazing.

NYC fine-art showdown
Tra la la, one month later: the artists meet up again in New York and start unpacking their stuff to hang and drape and build and fret over. FUN. I'm giddy to see what they've come up with. Also, host China Chow is wearing a grape-like or possibly blueberry-inspired outfit with a little stem on her shiny plastic hat. That hat is very Olive Oyl and it's fascinating. I can't make screen grabs at the half-ass TV recap headquarters but you can go to Tom & Lorenzo's site to see her purple greatness (it's worth it).

It's show time! Everyone from the ousted cast seems to be in attendance. The Sucklord has created an action figure of judge Jerry Saltz, extending his fifteen minutes of fame to seventeen and counting, China continues to fluster me in her Heidi braids and fantastically embellished high-necked spangly blouse. Don't ever change, China! Last year's winner is attending, causing me to exclaim, "Abdi!" which is fun to exclaim. Try it. Everyone's milling about, making their comments. Lola doesn't think Sara's glue-gun spiderweb is a very good glue-gun spiderweb. Let's see her make a decent glue-gun spiderweb. The challenge is on!

Take a look at some of the gallery action. Apologies for the lack of detail. Bravo editors did a nice job of zooming in to some of these works, especially Kymia's and those shots revealed an amazing array of line quality and obsessiveness that these ripped-from-the-Bravo site can't possibly convey.

Kymia's show had large and small-scale drawings on paper and acetate with many textures (according to the Jerry Saltz blog) and they pretty much blow everyone away. She represents life and death and mythology, which is tricky to pull off without being derivative or hokey. It's an amazing amount of technically excellent work with only a month to pull it off. She also built three graves on pedestals, made from dirt, branches and what looks like white gravel, that some found overkill (heh), but gave the exhibit a nice mix of materials to look at.

Kymia had told in an earlier episode of an unfathomable experience she had when she was fifteen. Her dad died in a jet ski accident and Kymia was with him at the time--a long time, before anyone found them. This haunting incident very much influenced this exhibit.

The snake imagery had super-detailed scales.

I like this red crane. Need to see it close up.

There was also this headdress, which was ancient-seeming and went well with the drawings.

Sara's mix of performance, costume, sculpture and paintings made for an interesting mix of stuff. Some judges found it too mixed. Everyone loved the paper-crane sculpture, bursting from a bird cage.

There were paintings that illustrated the various confessions people wrote.

And an ill-advised hairy dress and bikini that was supposed to represent a hair shirt with erotic overtones (and hearkened to too many surrealist objects to recount here).

A pretty decent spiderweb. Nobody makes a spiderweb like an actual spider, of course.

The mattress full of syringes reminds me of one of the "Nightmare on Elm Street" films. I think the judges have probably seen too much of this stuff. I myself have attended a show with a mattress in it (to convey "homelessness") and it was kind of annoying, as if someone's going to sleep in the gallery. There's no getting around it: bedding is not that compelling, unless Frida Kahlo is involved somehow.

On to Young. There were slides of his mom and boyfriend.

An altar made from his dad's clothing, photos and candies. Internet comments have been dismissive of the altar, but having traveled through Mexico at one point in my life, I find altars appealing and very cathartic for people going through the grieving process. We all should remember where we came from, even if it's with candy.

As mentioned before, the boyfriend is easy on the eyes.

Young's photos of his family were all over the place, stitched onto his dad's shirts, on the walls, on shelves. This is his mom.

His dad's shirts and the kiosk that Jerry said he was too afraid to step on because it was so "finished" looking. Damn, that was the interactive part, Jerry. People in general did not take to the shirts, finding them "clothes-line like."

Young couldn't find a way to showcase these very personal items in a more artful way. As it was, Jerry thought it so personal that it didn't allow the viewer to add any thoughts of their own upon seeing it. I agree.

Judging was slightly controversial in that Sara was off'd first with Young and Kymia being the final two. Sara's work looked better on TV--more interesting than Young's by far. But Young's might have been better in person, since it was all of a piece. His photos were very small and hard to appreciate on television, but perhaps up close, they worked well. China mentioned that her mother had died of cancer and she cried while viewing Young's work. There were a lot of tears and heavy emotions in this final. I know most of us will probably die of cancer at some point so I just want say, "Fuck you, cancer."

Did the best artist win? Yes. Kymia did the finest and  most impressive art. She did not panic, but somehow cranked out some intricate, intriguing stuff. She's a gracious lady and I'm glad all her crazy hard work paid off. Oh yeah, guest judge was a young fellow named KAWS who makes fake action figures and comic-book paintings. He must make The Sucklord wild with envy. Art: it's a heady environment!

Jerry says he probably won't be back if there's another season of Work of Art. He's going to take his action figure and go home. I would very much miss his insights if this were the case. Hope he's just bluffing to beef up his contract, like they do in baseball. Art and baseball, Jerry. That's what I'm talking about.

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