“Welcome to Soho, one of the central art districts in the world” explains auctioneer and mentor Simon de Pury to Work of Art contestants, his own company located in the actual central art district, Chelsea. De Pury gave artists a tour of the Kenneth Cole lined streets for this weeks episode, his voice over adding relevant information about the neighborhood’s art scene in the eighties. All of this is presumably done to cover up the fact that their destination — the Children’s Art Museum — is of no relevance to most contemporary artists.
Undoubtedly the dullest episode yet, this week Bravo invited artists to use the museum’s materials to create a work of art exploring the experiences that led them to art making. An obvious ploy to get artists talking about their sordid past, predictably, almost everyone followed the cliche and determined that this happened as a child.
With almost all the Bravo descent-ers eliminated, almost nothing was offered by way of show critique. “I don’t want to go home for not knowing how to use popsicle sticks.” Miles timidly whined, a half-comment on the lameness of the project.
From here we watch endless footage of Ryan, [SPOILER ALERT], who up until now had received very little camera time. Even before the audience sees anything he’s made they know he’s going home. We also watch Miles appear to seed the idea that Nicole should make eight of memory trays — (no argument ensues), and a bunch of petty bickering over whether Miles is cheating for recreating a similar piece 9 months ago. Um, why is this an issue now? Peregrine remade a piece a couple of challenges ago, and no footage of contestants complaining about that was offered up.
These issues were brought up by Mark, who continues to offers an array of grating comments, “I never really had quote unquote art supplies.” he tells us, as if his life somehow challenged the notion of traditional materials and the role of the artist. “I decided to make a book about my life and how I got to be quote unquote an artist.
This episode Simon de Pury expresses a few more critical thoughts in the studio, a welcome addition even if his comments made Abdi switch from one bad idea to another. I was sick of his super hero drawings the minute I saw him, so I’ll take his final poorly edited grid of symbols. Notably, he barely mentioned the “pipe cleaners and fluffy material” to Jaclyn Santos as something to use, and the next day the artist had integrated the suggestions into her work. It’s unclear if Santos is simply filled with too much self-doubt to generate her own ideas or they simply don’t exist, but whatever the case, this is not the kind of problem that easily disappears.
Cut to the crits, and painter Will Cotton is introduced as the guest judge. Like Richard Phillips, Cotton makes an excellent case for casting an artist in a permanent role judge, as he out performs all the regulars. Bravo also doesn’t task itself with giving him the lines they make Chow utter, “This looks like a child did it and no more” she pronounces of Ryan’s work before moving on. This isn’t substantive feedback.
I generally agreed with the judges decisions this week, but since I have something to say about nearly every work I’ll do the usual run down.
Peregrine Honig’s bowl of candy, drugs, fake cigarettes and a x-rated My Little Pony was clearly the winning work, and possibly the best work produced this season. Placed high upon a pedestal a child approaching her sculpture would only see the edges of it, which as Bill Powers writes mimics “the way we only get glimmers of our parents’ indiscretions when we’re young.” The piece spoke of her experiences growing up in an art commune in which she witnessed much of this. Honig described the piece as a memorial to many of her adult friends as a child, who later died of aids. It was a very touching piece.
I would have liked to see Jaclyn Santos go home this week, but Ryan Shultz managed to create a work with even fewer ideas. Still, I ultimately see more promise for for Shultz. His work is too literal minded, but at least he’s aware of it, and expressed frustration with his own performance during the show. He’ll return to his studio and make better art.
NICOLE NADEAU’S STYROFOAM LUNCH PLATES
This work sounds okay by description, but as a friend told me over email, they still look like a bunch of styrofoam lunch plates. Also, it’s hard to see what they really looked like. I have my doubts about this piece, but since almost all the other work sucked it still stands out as a better work.
THE UNSEEN ART WORK
Speaking of work that’s impossible to judge because the audience never sees it, Mark’s autobiography could have been anywhere from amazing to awful. He’s not much of an idea guy, but since his twitter writing’s okay even if the drawings sucked (and it looked like they did), the book was probably passable.
BEST QUOTES THIS EPISODE
As a kid I really liked to climb trees. It was definitely a way for me escape and deal with my feelings of isolation. – Jaclyn Santos
I’m putting construction paper on the floor and dishevel it, like I do to my own hair. – Ryan Shultz
UPDATE: COMMENTERS CHOICE FOR BEST QUOTE
These two paintbrushes represent me and my sister. – Nicole Nadeau