Piece of Work

by Carolina Wheat

I just Hulu-ed the hyped new reality show "Work of Art" because cable companies are crooks I won't pay for cable and I missed the all the premier parties that abound this past Wednesday.  Good thing I ventured to Western Exhibitions to see contestant and former colleague, John Parot's exact paintings in out of technicolor prior to my 44 minutes of bewilderment.  Gallery owner, Scott Speh has been representing John's skillful designs containing humorous socially relevant text, seductive homo-illusions and stunning boy-toy montages years before the Bravo incident. 
Last summer, the producers feasted on the School of the Art Institute's staff and facilities to host tryouts for "Untitled".  The blazing day contained long lines and long applications all for two minute quick reviews of a potential contestants portfolios to pass on, or not.  Many aspiring folks were art and craft fair material bringing all of their work in 3x5 photos, some were newly graduated or current students of every art school in a 300 mile radius, many were brut, most just had a dream 'ever since they could remember holding a crayon'. It's true, I was privy to the tryouts, and I would love to volunteer again.  So, I can't say more because I may get fined a crazy amount of money that no-one I know can afford.  Not many made the first cut perhaps 1/20, second cut 1/20, third cut and finally the fourth cut.  Beyond that, I'm just witnessing the show now, which must have the 20th cut and was most likely filmed in the fall.  In short, I couldn't stand having my lover away for up to 6 weeks with limited phone, no Internet, thereby, absolutely no sexy video chats.  No way, I don't care how cool Project Runway is or how gay friendly Bravo is, It was a scary reality, for a minute.
Now knowing and reviewing a few of the folks on the show is a trip, but not a celebrity trip.  It's a "how the fuck did you tolerate it all?" trip. I'm floored at the dim-witted that I witnessed yet giddy with anticipation for what's to follow with the chosen. Well it sure takes one hell of a constitution. The artist characters on the show chose are plotted, the formula is nothing new.  The judges chosen are knowledgeable (three cheers to Jerry Saltz!) and seemingly prepared to pierce the created work with sharp, unsterilized tongues.  Now who's ready to knock some sense out of the reactionary and shifty few with the upper white gloved hand?  

No matter what you've read about the show, I'm sure we can all agree that it's near to impossible to judge art aesthetically made in different mediums.  Subjectivity aside, I like these necessary parameters and rules with in this reality game show.  I have faith that the producers consulted real artists and arts educators for the upcoming challenges and I'm curious to see what they come up with for the assignments. The group studio environment with cabinets possessing every tool, media and canvas makes me cream.  I await the episode where competition begins to burn.

Character wise, I'm reveling:  

Way to highlight and prize the OCD of Miles, he feels like a pure artist.
I value John's steadfast, focused demeanor and look forward to his output.
Watching Ryan is easy, oh so easy on the eyes.
Nao has small clit syndrom oversized appearance of an ego compensating for low self-esteem--she creates drama, so she'll most likely annoy us all till the very end.

Trong basically rules; he's exceedingly grounded.
Nicole seems innocent yet seductive, she's hiding something really big.
Perigrine needs let go of that deer in the headlight look and attitude because it's not her, really, I think she may bite and gripping lock jaw with rows and rows of shark teeth.
Amanda's already G-O-N-E.
I would be tight smoking weed with Judith, she's a feminist and seemingly loyal.
Erik, well, uh, you gotta have one brooding outsider.
Mark may not have his burgers but at least he has his computer.
Jamie Lynn is sweet, friendly and as positive as pie, perhaps she's the rubber cement holding perfection together.
Abdi is also sunshine however may explode at a moments notice.
If Jaclyn wins it will confirm that Humanity is in danger of great destruction by the hand of strong hurricane force car washes conducted by the Nation's most decorated pom-pom teams.

The organization of the show backdrop where the gallery is the setting for critique is determined to amuse me.  I will not count the ways, only keep in my pocket some good one liners like:  "I'm not responsible for your experience of my work." These words are indispensably mock-able from Nao, what more is in store?  
True to boring, the 'Self-Reflexive' 1 of 1 show was tame. What was the teaser for the next?  Did I taste "shock value"?  Did I see Serrano's Piss Christ up close and personal in a .5 second frame, what?  Also highlighted objects of controversy like fire, sledgehammers, nudity, clips of soiled underwear, images of autoerotic asphyxiation, could it be? Who will win?

Who cares? I'll watch it and imagine my lover there.  I'll watch it and be intrigued by the challenges.  I'll watch it and savor the personalities that producers choose for things like this.  Will the makers be any more erratic than Project Runway?  Can I expect as much defense as a Black Hawks game during crits?   Can't I just have a Jerry Saltz personal phone number?  My plan is to collect snarky interchanges because it's really all about the Bravo drama with the subject of art, Maaaan. And from here on out, I will only refer to the incident that is this show as:  A Piece of Work.

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