Monday, December 26, 2011
Saturday, December 24, 2011
Friday, December 23, 2011
|This boat by Kymia was well received|
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.
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|
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!
Thursday, December 22, 2011
I couldn't write a half-ass recap today due to circumstances that had nothing to do with being half-assed. In fact, I put my full self into real life today and the half-ass recapping will commence tomorrow. But look at this excellent photo of mentor Simon de Pury and host China Chow with Kymia that I swiped from the Bravo Work of Art site. Isn't it SWELL? And Kymia was very deserving of the win, so huzzah.
Kymia's current show, Not for Long, My Forlorn, is at the Brooklyn Museum through February 5, 2012.
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Fear's "Fuck Christmas" is so simple and direct, but it gets the job done, especially after a month-long shopping spree of epic proportions. Sometimes simplicity can add some balance.
Jesus H. Christ. Technology continues to ruin Christmas.
Pray for us.
Nothing evokes Christmas like the dueling banjos scene in Deliverance. Before unspeakable crimes are committed in a brutal story of survival, there must be mountain music. And now: the light show.
Monday, December 19, 2011
If it were up to me, this is what Christmas would ideally be like:
I wake up--it's Christmas morning. Huh. Time sure does fly. Almost a new year--isn't that strange. Gotta remember to start writing "2012" on everything, not "11." Gonna be tough but I'll get it after a few missteps. So it's Christmas. Might be fun to ride bikes down the path and get some brunch that will fill me up 'til dinner. Then I'll have a bowl of my tasty homemade granola and it's lights out 'til Boxing Day.
Oh yeah, Jackson got lots of presents, but I let him open them weeks ago so he could play with them all month and not drive us crazy, staying up late at night, fretting about the presents he can't open until December 25th, when "they" say Jesus was born. Yup--that was a good idea, letting him play with all his new toys during the past month of cold, rainy days. And now, to bed. That was a swell Christmas.
Thursday, December 15, 2011
Host China Chow livens the environment in her trench-coat dress. The weirdest thing that could ever happen on this show is if China wore something from J. Crew--or Eddie Bauer if the weather requires it. She gives everyone $200 to buy supplies in town and some clear bubble umbrellas so we can note their facial expressions of frustration as they pound the streets of rainy Cold Spring.
After coming up against a bunch of people saying no in voices reflecting an acute fear of art, everyone eventually settles on somebody to portray. Kymia finds an odd couple of antique dealers who love dolls and skull thingies and who look like an underground comic-book come to life before studio-time even commences. Dusty finds an adorably exuberant tyke who reminds him of his daughter in Arkansas. Dusty missed her first birthday by being on the show. Awwww. He asks a gaggle of children where he can buy $200 worth of candy and they dutifully point to a quaint store just down a-ways off camera. He's going to make a candy portrait because his subject likes candy. Hmmm...
Lola finds a couple of coin dealers who regale her with tales of the history of money. She buys some bills and proclaims a love of numismatics that seems somewhat genuine, given her penchant for bullshitting her way through challenges in the past. Onward! Sara strikes out a few times but then hits pay dirt with a group of firemen. She finds the world's longest-working fireman (on duty for more than sixty years) and then tries on a much-too-large uniform, for their and our amusement. She's starry-eyed at fireman-art possibility.
Young has the funniest would-be failed attempt when he tries to pry secrets-of-the-town from the owner of a bed & breakfast. Young: Have you ever stayed in a B&B? This woman has no secrets--only plates of muffins. He ends up on a tour of the entire hotel, making exclamations of wonder at lavender-painted rooms with their own fireplaces. Finally, he slips away and walks by...a portrait studio! As Young watches the painter work, he has a bright idea. You can almost see the light bulb go on over his head. Wait, I'll provide you with the image I have in mind. There.
Anyway, he decides to give the painter his $200 and have him paint Young's portrait in the 20 minutes left before heading back on the train. The guy is like, uh, well, (laugh), OK--why not? Cool guy. He free-brushes it, doing a decent impressionist take on Young and his "Justin-Bieber hair" while Young takes photos of the guy at work. Young's going to incorporate his portrait with his subject's portrait for two, two, TWO portraits in one! Young is very clever and Sara remarks as such when she sees him carrying his portrait down the street. She does a mental face-palm and asks why she didn't think of that.
Riding that train, high on cocaine - actually tobacco. Hey, that would be a great challenge. I can picture mentor Simon de Pury shouting: Artists! You have 24 hours to create your next work of art while snorting buckets of pharmaceutical-grade cocaine in order to bring back the 80s art market for all of our benefit! Now, make it brrrrrillllliant!
I have vision.
Back at the studio, everybody's workin', workin', workin' it. There's metal-hammering and cartoon illustration and candy gluing and money counterfeiting. Simon steps in and gives gentle insights. He finds Kymia's R. Crumb-like painting/illustration somewhat banal but encourages her to continue and make something of it. He likes Sara's metal-hammered fireman face and Young's portraits(s) idea. He points out to Dusty that a portrait made from M&Ms and Skittles is very similar to Dusty's earlier work with crayons (I think) and clown paint. Dusty pulls out an origami fortuneteller and decides to work with hundreds of those instead. Hmmm...
Lola's critique is also not aces. She's got blow-ups of currency mounted statically on a a big board, and some hand-written notes and a letter to her subjects. It's the Lola mish-mash, coming together (or not). Lola wants to make a portrait without making a portrait. Well, this could be brrrrrrrilliant, or it could just be a line of bullshit. Could go either way and often does in the gallery scene.
Gallery show! There wasn't enough time for Dusty's fortune-tellers (we called them cootie-catchers back in the day) to work, so he completed his candy portrait, which is leaking on the gallery floor. Kymia's portrait is cartoonish and creepy but also sweet. She's posed her subjects in an ice-skating pose, reminiscent of their first date, as depicted on an antique music box she places beneath the painting. Sara's fireman is metallic and sculptural and mounted next to metal name-tags, "scorched" with charcoal. Young glued fragmented photos of his subject to boards that are spilling around his painted portrait. Lola's got several things going on, as usual--a big money pyramid, a shelf full of notes, the letter, and a tiny drawing or photo of her subjects, covered in wrinkled foil or silver leaf. Looks like she chickened out of her portrait-without-the-subject concept with this tiny, wrinkly concession to convention. Her piece is stagnant to me, stagnant! But selfishly I thank her for getting naked last week because it caused a spike of readership on my blog. So thank you for that, Lola.
The big surprise is that all the portrait subjects are in town from Cold Spring, checking out the artwork and won't that be awkward!? You'd think, but they seem pretty happy with the work. Dusty's subject wants to gather fallen candies. I thought Kymia's couple might be a little horrified but they love their portrait. Phew! The firemen are teary-eyed. It goes pretty well all around. Glad no one stormed out or got really drunk and trashed a work of art. That would be a Work of Art first, but certainly not a gallery-show first.
This is for the final three, so double-elimination time. There will be tears. The editors try to make us think it's close, but it's obvious who the judges want to see in the final show at the Brooklyn Art Museum. Think: Fine-Art Skills and you'll probably agree.
They like Kymia's spooky-ooky take on her subjects, who look like actual walking cartoons, according to China, who is wearing a frothy dress made of encapsulated quinceañera decor. Kymia wins! No money this time--sorry, Kymia. But she's off to the big art show for a chance of winning one hundred thousand dollars and she bounces up in down in jubilation. Next winner: Young! No surprises there. Kymia can definitely draw and paint and Young is full of gallery-ready ideas, even though Jerry finds his presentation, tidy and dull. And guest judge Richard Phillips thinks Young should have just thrown his painted portrait on the wall and called it a day. As if! Young agrees with him, toadying up to any ridiculous concept a judge tosses his way, knowing full well he never would have won with another artist's work on the wall. What is this--the 80s?
You know what I think? Aah, who cares. OK--I think if Young had had more time, he could have mounted his photos in various, protruding ways from the wall, surrounding the painting of himself. The photo-mounted boards are seemingly tossed about, looking slippy-sloppy, and not tidy at all.
Now it's down to three. The judges didn't find Sara's piece cohesive. It's a portrait placed next to an almost abstract sculpture and the eye tends to flick from one to the other. But they liked her portrait, especially super-unruffled Richard Phillips, even if he thinks the metal name-tags "diminish" its scope. You know what I think? I pretty much agree with the judges but I like Sara's work in general--let's move on.
Dusty's portrait is labeled a gimmick (kiss of death) and although the judges don't mind the candies falling to the floor and neither does Dusty, who calls it reminiscent of the fleeting nature of childhood, they're not wowed by this piece. Lola is taken to task for not fulfilling the scope of the challenge--making a portrait. She has a tearful melt-down, defending her conceptual aspects. Although she doesn't stamp her little foot in disagreement, she does whine that she really wants to be there! The judges do not take this into account. Dusty and Lola are out. Sara will go onto the final. As it should be.
Sara's initial reaction to her win? "WAAAAAAAAH!" China, delivering the good and bad news, cries beautifully during this scene. She's truly a work of art. When I cry my face looks like someone threw a russet potato at it, really hard.
Dusty is mad. He feels he deserves to win. Dusty--you made a portrait out of Skittles! Even kitsch-portraitist Jason Mercier, who spends untold weeks on his crazed celebrity-portraits-made-from-their-junk, cannot get high-art gallery cred going. He's labeled a gimmick artist by snooty dealers. Dusty's nice-guy demeanor and ability to put things together in a clean, sharp way will probably get him some art attention. Plus he will now see his wife and daughter again. Bonus.
Lola breaks down in sobs. Even if she had an interesting idea, the outcome was a let-down. There had to be some skill in evidence for this round and she comes off as a second-year art student. Judge Jerry Saltz does not agree. His blog laments his caving in and ousting Lola due to emotional fireman-presence during the show. Well, whatever. Maybe Lola should become a writer--she seems to like writing more than art. Maybe she can bring back the lost art of letter-writing and save the post office at the same time.
I have vision.
And now for this week's Work of Art inspired work of art. I was thinking that if Dusty had had more time in Cold Spring, he could have worked with his subject a bit more and maybe he would have gone with a different kind of photo of her. Instead of the bright, shiny "camera-face" that kids tend to make when getting their photo taken (except for those anxious kids who think their souls are being stolen), he might have gone with a more natural pose.
Those natural kid poses tend to be the most charming and memorable. He also might have delved deeper and found out she likes salamanders or fossils--kids like all kinds of stuff besides candy. Anyway, I took some photo portraits of Jackson this summer and today put them together in a "mood cube." Typically, I am a lazy artist who will go with a photo 90% of the time (apologies for the raw edges--I was hurrying).
Let's roll the cube and see what mood Jackson is in:
Next week: The whole enchilada. And Kymia is worried. Again.
Monday, December 12, 2011
What Am I Gonna Get?!
I have to admit that this sort of thing is in line with how I process much of marketing on television. I'm glad someone is out there channeling the infomercial madness in some shiny, sparkly, musical way.
Anyone up for a tickle off?
Something to think about.
Good for some laughs, for sure.
Thanks to Rich Juzwiak for the tip-off in A Weird Christmas Canon.
Thursday, December 08, 2011
This challenge will require teams of two artists to make art to sell on the street, which they will then translate to fine art for a gallery show afterward. The team with the most sales will win $30,000 and will gain immunity from being eliminated. They have five hours to conceive of, shop for, and make the street art, then one hour to alter that art for a gallery show. This makes for A VERY BAD CHALLENGE. And we're about to see some shitty, half-ass, thoughtless art. But Bravo doesn't care because Lola gets naked.
And so they begin. Sara J. picks Young to be on her team because Young is a winner, at least on this show. He's going to make colorful happy-face underpants in honor of his pert butt, as well as humorous Sharpie drawings on canvas--damn the consequences come gallery-show time. Sara will make pen-and-ink washes and figurative sketches since she's done that a lot and has even sold some on the street before. Go with your strengths, Sara--smart move.
Team Kymia and Dusty plot their course. Dusty's making T-shirts and signs with an outline-map of America surrounding a surveillance camera because he's noticed a lot of them in the city and, "We're always being watched in this country." No, Dusty, no! I mentioned in a past recap that US maps and flags do not tend to win art contests. If only he could have read my blog before this challenge--I could have helped.
Kymia's making postcards that will support an artist (herself!) because postcards and mail in general are so popular these days. Actually, mail art has a long and underground history and if she had chosen to go this route, she might have come up with something subversive and darkly humorous, like "Save The U.S. Mail, Mail this Postcard," or some such thing. Instead she stencils "Support Art" or something equally dull and the results are not going to save herself or the mail. She switches gears and decides to sell her signature in the hopes of making it big one day, while trading for her customers' signatures, for a gallery-show display. As mentor Simon De Pury would say, "Good lllllluck, KYMIA!"
Team Sarah K. and Lola are toiling at paper cut-out feather headdresses (for that "hipster, Native-American look," explains Sarah, to politically correct groans across the nation), boob-stencil T-shirts, and a naked photo of Lola emblazoned with her darkest secrets across the front. Bravo's censorship regulations are put to the full test. Naked Lola getting her picture took by Sarah is strategically blurred, but her full-frontal photo is not. Something for everyone.
Sidewalk sale! There is much hawking of wares on the streets of Tribeca. People are kind of going for Young's underpants but they really like Sara J.'s line drawings and she sells out, then has a Plan B--she'll draw and paint quick portraits for ten bucks a pop. Her portraits are great--squiggly and personable with just enough oddness to be interesting but not insulting. She's raking it in! Simon's visit has him rrrreally liking one of her nudes, exposing a backside and vulva, but I think he refrains from buying it so she'll have something to show at gallery time.
Dusty sells shirts and Kymia trades in signatures. Simon doesn't find either of their products compelling, causing Kymia to Totally Stress Out, but we're moving on to the wild-and-free tabletop of Lola and Sarah. Sarah is wearing a construction-paper feather head-dress and a T-shirt with a lopsided rendition of boobs on it. Kymia notes that she looks like a crackhead. A very colorful one.
Lola is selling large and small self-portraits and also individual secrets, including a 25-cent one that she whispers to a 3-year-old, making her cry. Toddlers don't have too many secrets so maybe conceptually, this was hard for the baby to absorb. Lola is very good at selling herself and admits that she's excited about it as well. One guy buys her portrait for $100. ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS! What recession? Lola offers hugs and doe-eyed glances for a price as well. What a challenge this is--I think I may be sick.
Finally, this uncomfortable-to-watch whoring of themselves ends and everyone's back in the studio, trying to make sense of it all. Lola has it easy--just mount that portrait and you're golden. Except that everyone gets to see her life-sized nakedness. "She's just selling herself," says Kymia, who got naked for an environmental cause back in the Pop-art challenge. It's not selling out if it's for the environment! And we are all nature's children, by the way, some of us with mustache hair that must be plucked, as Lola notes on her portrait of secrets.
Some of the other artists struggle to come to terms with having one hour to make their street art gallery ready. Young paints a depiction of underpants on canvas, rather than face the prospect of actually having to hang underpants on the gallery wall somehow. This will come back to bite him--right in his pert, firm buttocks. Dusty similarly doesn't want to hang T-shirts up, like some salesman in the Macy's boyswear department, so he makes a road sign instead. Sarah K. is frantically snipping away at paper feathers, thinking they might look like male genitalia if she cuts and pastes them just so. She'll have a female and male representation with feather headdresses to depict...lameness. I'm getting tired so I'll try and wrap up.
Gallery show! Dusty's surveillance cam is mistaken for a toner cartridge and a burrito in a mailbox. That can't be good and the judges take him to task for a.) showing another map of the U.S., and b.) not being able to draw a surveillance camera to their liking.
Young is chewed out for painting underpants instead of showing underpants. Guest judge Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn is especially incensed that he would only deem them worthy of judging paintings instead of underpants. For God's sakes, Young--show her your happy underpants!
Sara gets a good critique. The judges want to see more of her portraits and host China Chow wishes she had been at the sale to get her portrait done. That would be a stressful sitting since China seems to be a judge this season. Sara sold a boat-load of sketches, putting their team in the lead and winning the $30,000. Nice work if you can get it, Young! Sara carried his underpanted ass on this one.
Lola is also a judge fave. When Jerry Saltz and Bill Powers first see her nude form upon the gallery wall, their eyes pop out of their sockets while their tongues lap the floor and sweat tears burst from their heads and old-fashioned car horns blow. Then they spring to their feet, jumping, clapping and wolf-whistling in approval. In reality, Jerry's eyebrows raise to the point where he has a temporary face-lift. Everyone digs Lola's secrets (Simon is especially and adorably appreciative of the pubic-hair aspect), but I'm here to tell you that back in the 90s, Secret Antiperspirant had an early-era Internet contest where you could submit a secret to their site and I think the winner got a life-time supply of antiperspirant or something. Also, Lola's piece reminds me of that OMD song, "Secret," and that's not necessarily good.
Lola is out of luck because the prize goes to the highest sellers, not the best work of art. It sucks to sell out and not even get the cash in the end.
Kymia squeaks by with her array of signature-postcards. Jerry likes all the individuality on display, but they're kind of stale-looking on my TV. I guess people do have nice handwriting in the close-ups. I wish she could have put some art in there but I'm biased because I like mail art.
Oh boy, Sarah K. is in big trouble with her piece, which is sad. Even she knows its sad and that's too bad, because Sarah is the most affable reality-show contestant I've seen in a long time. She's downright jolly. But despite her near-win in last week's Fiat 500 challenge, she's been petering out challenge after challenge and this is her last hurrah, which is more like a bad grade-school project with naughty bits stenciled on. Even the naughty bits don't look naughty. They look kind of cruddy.
The artists only had a few hours to throw this together and mostly it shows. That's no way to treat art, Bravo producers! Give the audience some decent art. Colorful underpants don't count!
And now for the Work of Art-inspired artwork of the recap. You know those caricature-drawing guys at street festivals and amusement parks? I pretended to be one of those guys and did a "portrait" of Team Sara and Young. I commend Sara for her on-the-spot portraits she made during this challenge. It's going to take a lot of practice before I can even attempt such a thing and even then, I think I'd have more success (depending on how you label "success") attempting to be one of those caricature guys.
Next week: Double elimination Americana art--and China wears a trench jacket.
Monday, December 05, 2011
What's happening, Facebook friends?
The Javanese gamelan ensemble, Sekar-Melati, covers Gang of Four's "Not Great Men." Why? We don't know, making it even better.
Thanks for sharing, Steve Connell and J Neo Marvin.
"It's Time," shared by filmmaker and professor, Ray. A message from GetUp!
This is some effective visual storytelling right here.
Also from Ray: The Animals' version of "House of the Rising Sun" played on old tech equipment.
List of "instruments" here.
Over on my other FB site, full of musicians and DJs, many I have yet to meet, there is much musical sharing.
Peter shares Little Richard in Scuba Party (1967). Swinging!
Another from Peter: Howlin' Wolf doing "Don't Laugh at Me," featuring the late Hubert Sumlin on lead guitar.
Al's pick: The Flamin' Groovies' "Slow Death" live in 1972.
Another from Al: "Chain of Fools" - my favorite Aretha song.
Thanks, Facebook friends.
Friday, December 02, 2011
Don't choke now!
Well, mostly they choked, and who could blame them? It was not an easy challenge. Anyone who's attempted to build a three-dimensional construction in one day with auto parts (two of the artists don't know how to drive and another, Michelle, was in a hit-and-run accident while riding her bike) will sympathize. Sculpture, unless you have a particularly spatially inclined brain with an aptitude for engineering, is very, very difficult to pull off. Throw in some weirdly shaped metal parts and well, it's daunting, no doubt. But this is also a recipe for something potentially unique and surprising and Sara J. manages to rise to the challenge.
Wait--first Dusty has to wear Young's short-shorts because he won/lost a bet that if they won the last challenge (and $30,000 that went with it), he'd do so. Prance, Dusty, prance! I will say that both Young and Dusty have nice legs. What are the odds of that?
Everyone is shown a beautifully laid out disassembled Fiat 500, its parts in fanciful arrays across the gallery floor. Impressive--these modern vehicles. Someday cars will be made out of steel-reinforced plastic pods that can hover on a cushion of air, but for now the internal combustion engine is what they get.
Fifteen minutes of scrambling for anything they can grab (it's like "Supermarket Sweep"!) and they're off to the studio where they'll have 24 hours and one hour the next morning to complete a piece featuring at least one auto part. It's a puzzler but Sara J. gets down to ripping out a car seat and gathering its foam stuffing. Kymia finds the key to the car and immediately wants to grind it down into shavings of stardust for a galaxy-diorama. Kymia: I've moved so many times and had so many house keys made and I'm here to tell you: key shavings do not resemble star dust in any way, shape or form. They're dull shards of metal that are best swept away. She'll find out.
Young builds a robot (yawn). Sarah K. is thinking about her dad who worked in the auto industry. She skins two car seats and mounts them on canvas for a kind of Rorschach test double portrait. Michelle is building a hanging guy whose organs are all showing and made out of gears, and bolts and balloon intestines. He's going to be licking a car window because he has a fetish. Ha ha! This will be good. WE THINK.
While Kymia mounts her shavings in wax and attempts to build a wee box to house them in, Dusty decides to do a face mask and embed it in a steering wheel in remembrance of a bad childhood car accident. Surely Fiat will be impressed. Dusty's mask preparation is like something out of a Three Stooges short, with Kymia forgetting to help him out of his mask as he lies on the floor, covered in goo from forehead to beard, trying to shout, "MMMMMM! HMMM MMMM!" Finally she runs over and peels it off to reveal: inverted Dusty.
Lola has no idea what to do. But she's working away as usual on several ideas anyway. There are pots of steaming crystal-making solutions and ancient-artifact metal plates and a glass painting and eventually a big sketch she traces from a photo of herself. Kymia is all like, "I freehand draw, like an artist. She traces, which is cheating!" But lots of artists trace, especially when working big and in a hurry. I have no beef with tracing as long as the outcome works. Lola scribbles a bunch of thought blurbs on top of her portrait because Jerry said a couple episodes back that he liked that. She covers a car door with foil and talks about being a good witch. Hoo boy.
Everyone knows a Lola. That waify, sex-kittenish, manic-pixie arty girl who knows lots of guys but has few or no girl friends. But generally these artists seem to get along and are supportive of each other, so Bravo production gives her a lot of camera time to make it seem like evil is afoot. Really, frustration is afoot as Kymia's box thing is falling apart and Dusty hates his steering wheel-face, and mentor Simon de Pury shoots down Michelle's goof-tastic balloon-intestine window-licker guy, saying it's better suited for the child-inspired challenge. She becomes self-doubting and starts working on a droopy paper grill sculpture beneath the car's real grill, making a "happy-sad" car. Wuh-oh, this is not good.
Gallery show! Sara J.'s piece, Backfire, consists of a muffler, mounted diagonally from the ground, belching out an array of floral-looking foam parts that point jaggedly every which way. I can't help thinking that it's a fine-art ode to flatulence, but even so, it's really good. Almost poetic in form and an interesting mix of metal with known and unknown materials combined as a new-found object. Since she's mainly an illustrator (and a good one), this is a lovely surprise. Sarah K.'s skinned car seats on canvas are also good--making an object that's bold and recognizable but weirdly abstract at the same time. They're in the top.
Dusty scrapped his steering-wheel-of-pain and instead uses an well-known preschool-teacher technique, enlarged. He puts the lettering, "going to work," "going home" on each car tire and rolls them across paper like giant ink stampers. The paper is hung behind a stack of tires for a statement on the banality of commuting. It's a nice rejoinder to car commercials, which always make driving so exciting, subversive and sexy. Most people have Dusty's experience with the Daily Commute and here it is. I think if he had had more time and painted some abstract colors behind the stamped statements, that would have been more eye-popping and would have made the tire tracks that more obtrusive. But that's just me.
Young's robot is well-made but doesn't say anything about cars, machinery or even robots--since it can't move or do anything useful or entertaining. He calls it "Trophy" and cruises through this one. He and Dusty are safe. At least Dusty still has his eyelashes and brows. Win!
Bottom three: Kymia's diorama, Key to the Universe burns its lightbulb out during the show and looks like a shadowy world of nothing. Lola's paper, crystallized metal and pretentiously titled glass installation is confusing and says nothing as well. Saddest of all is Michelle's car grills, which are cartoonish but not cartoonish enough to please the judges. She had started to make a new piece one hour before the show, smearing her hands, face and finger-written words on frosted glass to portray the steamier side of parking a car, but nixed that piece when the other artists convinced her to use the bright red, pop-eyed grill. She really choked. If she had only stuck with her intestinal guy! Simon de Pury has strrrruck agaaaain! I love that guy but sometimes he freaks the artists out with his charmingly polite put-downs of their works-in-progress.
The judges get the how-could-you-do-this-us? edit, coming across as harsh and well, overly judgmental. I mean, they only had a day, judges! Anyway, Kymia's safe because she's done good work in the past and won a challenge already. Although Jerry Saltz accuses her of "over-building" her project as she's done before. We never heard that criticism until now so we don't know which works he's referring to. The editors went in this direction to make Jerry look harsh. Lola is safe but not without Bill Powers sternly admonishing her to not bring them the same old shit every week because, "we don't want to have this conversation again." You were all praising her for words and lines on paper before and now you're against it--bad parenting, Bill.
Bill also chastises Michelle, saying you can't just put googly eyes on something and have it work. Oh, but I disagree! Sadly, Michelle is out, although I must say, her paper-craftiness combined with her determination to subvert that craftiness through sexual and scatological subject matter, was probably destined for an offing anyway. According to Jerry's blog, Jerry had a conniption fit over this outcome and there was much ranting and raving on his part, but eventually he had to agree: this was a sad, sad Fiat. And then, of course, she's called upon to explain herself, having been in an auto accident (which she's already addressed); how could she have made such an impersonal piece?
Guest judge Liz Cohen has photographed herself in bikinis while working on automobiles, so this episode pretty much had something for everyone. Just no more Michelle. No more fetish paper-craft! No more poop art! I will miss Michelle.
And now for the Work of Art inspiration piece of the week. Sorry--no sculptural work--I have limited space and auto parts. Judges and Internet commenters alike all chimed in after this episode, saying, "Michelle should have stuck with the window-licking body-part guy!" and "Michelle should have gone with her sexy fogged-up window idea!" I tried to combine all her concepts in one go here with my own unique spin, of course.
Do I win the $25,000?
Next week: Selling art on the street and, you knew it would come to this (congratulations Bravo producers), Lola gets naked!