Work of Art Liveblog, Episode 1: Kitsch Me If You Can

Guys!  Work of Art: The Next Great Artist is back on Bravo and, like last season, I’ll be liveblogging it!  I’ve looked over all the bios on the website and these are my  initial superficial judgments observations:

Leon, 31:  His most notable trait will be that he is a deaf artist originally from Malaysia.

Dusty, 32:  He will spend the entirety of his time on television talking about his daughter and how he misses his family.

Kathryn, 29:  She went to Yale for her MFA and she is into those awesome wax figures people used to teach anatomy back in the day in Europe.  She is also trying really hard to be Lisa Loeb.  She will probably be pretentious.

Lola, 24: She’s a snake charmer!  A snake charmer named Lola!

Sarah, 34: One of two Sara/hs, this one is from Cleveland, and I know someone who knows someone who knows her.  I like her dress.

Jazz-Minh, 32:  I don’t have anything to say about her except that her name is absolutely stupid and that I hope she pronounces it stupidly.

Kymia, 30:  I feel like I should know her because she was at the University of Florida getting her MFA while I was there studying Art History.  It is a small department, why don’t I recognize her!  Anyways, Go Gators.

Tewz, 31:  I couldn’t even read his bio because he also has a stupid name.  What is with these people.

The Sucklord, 42: Okay so, I like that he has a geek aesthetic, and nerd interests, that is really cool, but the name, really?!  And his bio picture is just dumb.  Whatever, here’s praying that he’s entertaining.

Ugo, 34:  Was your name Hugo and did you take the H off?  Whyyyyy.

Sarah, 26: She will always be confused with Sarah with an “H.”

Bayete, 34:  I know someone who knows him!

Michelle, 29:  Ginger.

Young Sun, 28:  His pink pants are really fierce.

I know, none of that had anything to do with art, nor was it particularly insightful, but I like to think I have good character judgment.

Image from

Of course we have some folks back from last season too, including judges Bill Powers, China Chow and her gravity-defying wardrobe, and my most favorite the amazing Jerry SaltzSimon de Pury and his charm will be filling in the Tim Gunn role as mentor.

So according to the Bravo website during this first episode, Kitsch Me If You Can, the artists will “use pieces of ‘bad’ art, such as a painting of dogs playing checkers, a velvet cowboy, and a sculptural golden peacock as their canvas.”  Sigh, this will be amazing.  Join me back here at 9:00 to witness the carnage!

9:00 And we’re off!  World Famous Brooklyn Museum!  Cover story in Blue Magazine!  $100,000 from Fiat!  Prizes!  China your dress has a hole in it!  Jerry Saltz is looking for an artist who can fail flamboyantly (I wanted to write flail flamboyantly!)  and, oh, I hope we see some flamboyant failures!

9:02:  Kymia and The Sucklord are the first to arrive at the Brooklyn Museum.  Kymia is from Durham!  Durham and the University of Florida, you go girl. The Sucklord compares himself to Andy Warhol, in that Andy had soup cans and he had stormtroopers.  I respect that.

9:03: Dusty is next, he has a neat work with crayons, and he is from Arkansas and you can tell.  Ugo arrives fourth, and The Sucklord hates his work.  I guess all the artists have self portaits up at the Brooklyn Museum as little introductions?

9:04: Young Sun is fifth to arrive and his self portrait is him naked, with his terminally ill parents in the background.  This is his final family portrait.  Good lord.   Jazz-Minh was born on a hippy commune.  No really?!  Lola arrives seventh.  Lola finds The Sucklord attractive.  I mean, I’m down with the nerd factor, but absolutely not.

9:05:  Lisa Loeb/Kathryn is next!  She likes visceral tableaus.  She’ll use the word visceral and tableau a lot. Leon and Tewz arrive together, Leon has an interpreter with him, which is positive!  I was wondering how they would handle Leon being deaf.

9:06:  Tewz has been arrested for doing graffiti in Chicago!  He’s the Banksy of the bunch.  And he has a stupid name.  Michelle, who isn’t really a ginger, has arrived at some point and she made a gorgeous sculptural portrait of her head, constructed out of paper.  Sarah with an H’s self portrait is lots of her head in a party banner.  She is perky, Lola doesn’t like perky.  Lola’s going to be a bitch.  Sara without an h has this water-color looking scorpion thing.  Bayete is a video artist, respect!

9:07:  China, in a purple gossamer bondage dress arrives with Simon de Pury.  I love how she pronounces his name.  BE BOLD.  BE BRAVE.  BE AMAZING.  He’s the best.

9:08:  Simon de Pury already knows The Sucklord!  He has bought and sold The Sucklord’s art!  Impressive, Sucklord.

9:09:  The reason we are at the Brooklyn Museum–besides everyone seeing each other’s self portraits–is so that the comtestants can see the actual hall where the winner’s art will be shown.  The space is full of work that looks straight from Regretsy.  The Sucklord informs one of the contestants that a picture of a wizard is, in fact, Gandalf.  He also knows Gandalf’s sword’s name (Glamdring).   The Sucklord really likes the art, because he is into pop culture and kitsch and doesn’t seem to take this stuff too seriously.  The other contestants, not so much.

9:10:  And this is their first challenge!  They need to pick one of the kitschy pieces from the gallery and use it in work of art!  And then they have not a ton of time to make it work!  The Sucklord of course picks the Gandalf painting.  Is it bad that I really like The Sucklord?

9:11:  Is it also bad that part of me thinks/hopes that most of these contestants will produce works that are inferior to these Regretsy, kitschy pieces?  Thus far I am thinking that Lola and Jazz-Minh (UNGH) are going to be the biggest Bs btw.

9:12:  AND OFF TO THE STUDIO.  Zoom in on a saxophone-playing bear, commercial break!

9:16:  To the studio!  Tewz has done art in jail.  He says the studio is definitely better than jail. Kymia has this little kneeling, sort of Native-American looking girl statue, and she’s going to do a casting of it, or something.

9:17:  Sara without an H has had bulimia and she feels pain, she has a woman statue as well, and the woman statue feels pain, so, her work will have something called pain.  Dusty has a scary clown portrait and he is going to make it look playful-creepy.  He teaches elementary school. Sarah with an H is an installation artist.  And she has flexible thinking…and a cute statue of a kitty!

9:18:  Oh Sarah with an H is going to cut apart the kitty, aw.  Oh wow Michelle was in a hit and run and she couldn’t walk for awhile, that’s a bummer.  She has this Bald Eagle totem thing that she’s going to make into a gravemarker.  Bayete has a 3-D painting of a lady and he’s going to do an antebellum Scarlett O’Hara racial commentary thing.

9:19:  Lola’s mom is a gypsy, but would rather Lola be a lawyer.  I don’t see how this is logical.  Lola has no idea what to do.  She’s a B so I hope she goes away.  Leon’s piece is “earthy” and he wants to transform it to “heavenly” because he likes transformative work. Jazz-Minh’s piece is an embroidery hobo and somehow she has connected this embroidery hobo with Lola, who is a “sprightly sexypot” who will “steal birds”?  Jazz-Minh I cannot handle you at all, disaster.

9:20:  Sucklord is talking about the Dark Lord.  “Go back to the shadow.”  “You cannot pass.”  These are things he is legit saying as he works and it is amazing.  He already thinks that the Gandalf picture is perfect.  Because it is, yo.  You should just put up the picture untouched, Sucklord.  Bayete thinks he is weird but dude, Sucklord is quoting Lord of the Rings.

9:21:  Ugo does freehand line art.  I’m mildly bored by him.  Secret codes and messages…he is this season’s Miles.  Yawn.  Tewz calls his work a Keith Haring graphic thing, and not really original.

9:22:  Tewz has a ceramic frog and he is going to try to clone the frog, and he is using lights, and…well, for a grafitti artist he is being pretty 3-D, so respect.  Kathryn has this fugly painting and she is going to make it a sculpture that is the inside of a human body.  Young Sun has a painting of dogs playing cards and he is going to do an interactive installation, with masks, and a picture of himself?  Or maybe he will be in it!  Like when Miles slept in his installation, mystery!

9:23:  Simon is here!  Mentor time.  Bayete’s concept is cultural hybridity.  Simon does not like what Bayete has done with his work.  Lola picked a 3-D diorama of a palm vista (those are her words).  She clearly has no idea what she is doing, and Simon is confused.  Lola goes to have a freak out.

9:27:  Simon addresses The Sucklord as “Morgan,” and Sucklord is all “dude it is Sucklord” and Simon is all “should I call you your lordship” and the Sucklord is all “whatever just don’t use my real name.”  Simon is pleased with his progress.

9:28:  Kathryn is doing gruesome stuff, Simon finds it icky but it just looks like a red mess to me.  Kathryn is taking photographs of it, has some on the computer, Simon likes it!  Ugo and Simon talk in French a bit.  They are a brotherhood.  They do not continue in French, sadly.  Simon also compares his work to Keith Haring!  You just got told, Ugo.

9:29:  So I guess we are only seeing a few of the critiques?  Simon is heading out now, and then at some point the artists will get to go to their Penthouse at the Dillon!  Fancy!  Lola is having a breakdown and fellow B Jazz-Minh is trying to console her but dude, just let Lola fail.  This is a competition!

9:30:  Bayete has worried that he hasn’t pushed the concept of race enough, but Simon told you to leave it alone!  Leave Brittany alone!

9:31:  Leon is here representing the deaf population, especially the deaf artist population, so, you know, props.  Aaaaand it is time to go home!

9:32:  Obligatory “Oh wow we get to stay here?!” montage scene.  Young Sun and Tewz are rooming together and Young Sun is all “I haven’t talked to Tewz about my being gay yet” but I don’t think you need to tell him, Young Sun, it is pretty evident.   And damn, that was a quick montage, we’re back in the studio already!  Michelle says that she hasn’t been so nervous since she got tested for STDs.  Well okay, lady.

9:33:  Lola has had a revelation but I feel that she is going home.  I mean, she’s definitely been featured enough.  And she’s a total B.  Those are signs.  Although it could also be Bayete, they’ve focused on him a lot.  And they’ve also focused on The Sucklord but dude, he’s so entertaining! However, we’ll find out soon, time is up!  Off to the gallery!  Commercial break!

9:37:  We get a little mid-commercial clip about Ugo talking about women and how they inspire him and then he is all: “God dammit I’m a French guy talking about women I am cliche.”  Yes he is attractive but he just strikes me as boring, sorry.

9:40:  And to the gallery!  And the permanent panel of judges:  Jerry Saltz! (<3), Bill Powers, owner of Half Gallery and Co-Founder of Exhibition A, and special guest judge, photographer Mary Ellen Mark.

9:41:  I always wonder where they find these people to populate the gallery.  Abdi, who won last season, is there (hi Abdi!).  So is Sarah Jessica Parker, one of the show’s producers.  Sara J.’s picture is called “Sexy Pig,” Dusty’s piece is the “Clown,” Mary Ellen Mark does not understand Bayete’s collage, “Scarlet in a Post-Racial Era” or something like that.  Jazz-Minh’s painting is called “Caged Bird Sing” and it actually isn’t horrible, I sort of like it.  Sarah K.’s piece is called “And Mouse” and it is clever, because she cut up the cat, but you have to look to find it!

9:42:  Kymia’s piece is actually quite lovely, I sort of like it, it has a lot of texture and looks a little alien.  Lola’s is called “I wanted to live in a mountain but then I realized mountains move too” and it looks dull.  Michelle’s piece is “The Eternal Woodsman.”  Sun Young is totally in his piece!  It is called “The Things We Say When We Had Too Much to Drink.”  He is wearing a mask and standing at a card table with playing cards, I love it.  Kathryn’s piece is grooosss and called “Shard.”

9:44:  Leon’s piece is “Heaven + Earth” and it is sort of beautiful, I’d want it in my house, but I’m not sure how it relates to the original kitsch or to anything other than decorative art.   Ugo’s piece is sort of striking to look at because it is so red but yeah, Keith Haring, and a piece has to be more than red to succeed.  Sucklord’s piece is called “The White Rider” and it is sort of cute and kitschy and oh man Sucklord has a rat tail and he really didn’t do anything to change the piece, alas.  Also he has a rat tail, ungh.  Now onto the critiques, where I can actually look at the art more seriously.

9:45:  Michelle, Lola, Ugo, Sara, Bayete, and The Sucklord are all called to stay for the critique.  Everyone else is safe, and gets to go home for the evening.  Three artists had great work!  One was Sara with her blindfolded pig woman on a spit.  It is quite lovely actually, at second glance.

9:46:  Another favorite piece is Michelle’s piece with the eagle!  She saw it as a totem and then there’s a woodman’s skeleton made out of paper below it, her paper sculpture is beautiful it really is.  Jerry Saltz loves it.  I want her to do more paper sculptures.

9:47:  Lola’s work is considered excellent?  Oi.  I guess she finally pulled it together in the end, but it just doesn’t look like anything on screen.  Maybe it is better in person.  China loves that she incorporated sculpture and collage.  Jerry loves that it is a painting deconstructed and he loves the little dream house. I still think Lola is a B.

9:48:  Only one of these three ladies can win, congratulations…Michelle!  Oh good for the pseudo-ginger.  She gets immunity next week, good for her!  One of the girls chants “the girls are the be-est” as they leave the gallery.  Awesome.

9:49:  And now for the bottom three.  Bayete starts.  Bill Powers says the work is too obvious and a little sloppy.  Jerry says that the work created a prison of meaning.  I like that.  Is my life a prison of meaning?  Is yours?  Bayete pushed the button that has already been pushed too much, and Jerry doesn’t like to have that button pushed unnecessarily (sorry that sounds dirty).  Bill Powers says that just because the topic of race is complex, doesn’t mean that a work on race is complex.  Burn.

9:50:  Ugo next.  His piece has a lot of red.  It is muddled.  It doesn’t look great.  He is so boring, and so is his art.  China also says it feels derivative of Keith Haring.  Ugo once again uses the word “secret language,” and dude, make him go away.

9:51:  And onto Sucklord.  And his sort of childish homage to Gandalf.  He took a crappy 2-d homage to Gandalf and made it a crappy 3-D homage to Gandalf.  Mary Ellen Mark likes it because she likes toys, but Jerry Saltz totally hates it, he is making faces.  Jerry wants to know why Sucklord deserves another chance and Sucklord has no idea.  Sucklord is entertaining but he really isn’t an artist, alas.  I’m guessing Sucklord is going home.  Bummer.

9:52:  And straight to the judges discussion.  Jerry says they turned kitschy art into kitschier art.  They all agree Bayete’s piece is a mess.  Jerry says Ugo’s problem is that he is derivative and boring and basically just like Ugo himself, derivative, boring, and wall decor.  Horrible.  Mary Ellen Mark really liked Sucklord’s piece!  OMFG I love her.  China Chow found Sucklord’s piece distracting and couldn’t take it seriously.  Jerry doesn’t like that the Sucklord didn’t change anything.  I hope he doesn’t go home because he is totally entertaining.  Aaand commercial break!

9:57:  And we’re back!  China is all “The only rule in art is what works, and none of your pieces did.”  She never makes any sense.  And neither did any of the works by Bayete, Sucklord, and Ugo!  Each judge gets in a burn for each of the artists, and then China is all: “One of you is leaving us tonight,” and it is Ugo!

9:58:  Ugo is attractive but 100% boring.  He goes over to his piece and removes one of the layers from it and dude, it looks so much better…but Jerry says “either way, the piece didn’t work.”  Sucklord says “Ugo was a nice guy but at the end of the day I’m a supervillain, and it is better him than me,” and oh, Sucklord, you are silly.  I am glad you live to snark another week!

So according to the promo of the rest of the season everyone is going to have much stress and Jazz-Minh is going to continue to be a B.  This season looks fantastic.  So many tears!  So much cursing!  So much failing flamboyantly and one really ugly shot of Kathryn sobbing.  I CANNOT WAIT.

I apologize for not writing more about the art part of Work of Art, but with so many contestants it is difficult to actually get a good look at anything.  Also, liveblogging isn’t necessarily conducive to deep intellectual pondering.  Or, maybe, the art in the show isn’t conducive to deep intellectual pondering?  Anyways!  I can look at the art more later on, when the field has been narrowed and when actual talent might (possibly) be demonstrated.

In the meantime, let us bid a fond farewell for boring, wallpaper Ugo.  Au revoir, Ugo.

I hope y’all enjoyed this episode as much as I did, and check back next week for another liveblog installment!

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