June 10, 2010 12:21 AM by Rebecca Ford
Forget chefs and fashion designersâ€”what about artists? The newest reality competition on the Bravo block, Work of Art: The Next Great Artist attempts to find the next great artist in the country. These artists will pour their hearts on the canvas in hopes of winning $100,000 and a solo show at the Brooklyn museum.
China Chow, who grew up in the art community, will serve as host for the show, and also a judge. Simone de Pury, one of the worldâ€™s leading art figures, will serve as the mentor for the artist, guiding them in their work.
Weâ€™re introduced to the Work of Art: The Next Great Artist contestants, a diverse group, including sculptures, painters and even an architect. The contestants first meet in the gallery, where their first assignment, a self portrait, is displayed.
Abdi Farrah is from a small town and excited to be in New York. Nao is known for video art and performance work. Her confidence borders on cockiness. Miles, a Michael Cera look-a-like, takes a bath in his audition video, and admits that he has OCD. Amanda went into architecture, but realized sheâ€™d rather paint. Erik is completely self-taught. Judith is an older artist. Trong is a well-known artist who works in New York.
For the first challenge, each will create a portrait of one of the competitors. Theyâ€™re paired randomly on the gallery walls, and are required to create the inner essence of the artist.
Next, the artists check out work space and have half an hour to get acquainted with subject. Some pairs got along better than others. Miles pulled out power tools and wasnâ€™t chatting with Nao.
Surprise! Sarah Jessica Parker walks in the door! The executive producer explains that sheâ€™s art enthusiast, says a few wonderfully encouraging words. Miles makes a terrible joke about pretending to not know who the â€œSex and the Cityâ€ actress is.
The artists get to work. Miles makes his fort for screening. He works on a portrait of Nao by making a death portrait. The other artists donâ€™t quite get him.
Judith calls Ericâ€™s piece amateurish. Simone de Pury walks around, Tim Gunn style, to give advice to the contestants.
The winner of this contest will get immunity. They work until midnight. Mileâ€™s ball for exposing breaks, which causes him to get really worked up and concerned for his fate in the competition.
At midnight, the contestants head to their new home. They check out their place, which many of them appreciate.
The next day is the first gallery show. They return to the studio, and get to work. The constants are already annoyed with Nao, who continues to critique other pieces instead of focusing on her own work.
Miles makes it work with a partially screened item. Too bad I donâ€™t know enough about art to explain this more in depth. If anything that will be Work of Art‘s greatest challenge. People know food, and they know fashion. But most people donâ€™t know art, so how do you get viewers to understand whatâ€™s going on?
At the gallery showing, the contestants meet their permanent panel of judges. They are: Jerry Saltz is senior art critic for New York Magazine, Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn, a gallerist and art advisor, and Bill Powers, co-owner of Half Gallery. They open the gallery, and begin looking around at the pieces.
Judith does not like her portrait of herself, even though it looks pretty dead-on to me. Abdi paints Ryan as a smoker (which he is) in bright reds.
Amanda, Eric, Marc, Miles and Nao. Those not called have made it to the next challenge.
Miles is praised for his death portrait of Nao. Nao explains her dot-portrait, saying that Miles was all over the place. The judges feel it was not enough of a portrait. She has got some serious attitude.
Eric, who is new to the professional art scene, has created a clown image of Mark. He is criticized for his choices. He uses the excuse of not knowing anything about professional art. In contrast, Mark is praised for his portrait of Eric, which is a photograph of him sitting with a tattoo of â€œKittenzâ€ on his fingers.
Amanda is criticized for her gentle style, and the judges call it a whisper. Abdiâ€™s piece is exactly the opposite, praised for its power and punch with the use of bright reds.
The contestants are told to wait while the judges deliberate. The judges say they were impressed with the talent and variety.
After all that angst, Miles wins, and receives immunity for next week. Nao, Amanda and Eric are then sent in front of the judges, and one of them will be eliminated. Amanda is sent home. She removes her self-portrait for the wall.
This season promises explosive art and plenty of passion. This new reality show is proving that art can be understood by the masses. Itâ€™s going to be an excellent show!