Work of Art, Episode 9: Exile on Main Street

Once again it is Wednesday, and once again it is time for another amazing Work of Art episode and a hopefully amazing Work of Art liveblog.  Just a refresher: last week we only had six (!!!) contestants, and the contestants were given what I found to be one of the most interesting challenges yet.  Each contestant had to create a work of art that both sold on the street and translated into a gallery setting.  The artists were paired up, and whichever team made the most money on the street was saved from elimination–oh, and they also won $30,000 what?!  In terms of picking the winner the money was all that mattered, which is an interesting commentary on the art world.  Young Sun and Sara J. won, mostly because of Sara J.’s quick watercolor portraits which sold for $10.00 a pop.   The judges  used the gallery work to determine the losers.     Dusty and Kymia were one group, with Kymia doing well and Dusty doing not so well.  Sarah K. and Lola rounded out the other group, complete with all the nudity and penises you tend to associate with Lola.  Lola actually made a good piece (I know, it kills me to say it) and Sarah K., alas, did not.  Sarah K. ended up going home.  Farewell, Sarah K., we will miss your boisterous laugh and your large bosom!

I like your dress, Sarah.

This week, the artists leave NYC and are forced to consort with the hoi poloi in a small, quaint little town in the Hudson River Valley!  They also have to create a work that presents an “undated vision of America” whatever that means.  AWKWARD.  DISASTER.  I can’t wait.

Guysssss I’m late!  My office potluck is tomorrow and when I hear the words “potluck” I immediately think “Oh, I need to make enough food to feed EVERYONE” rather than just bringing my one dish and call it a day.  So I just spent the whole evening making a savory main and a desert, both of which will be entered into cooking contests, and I finally just put my desert in the oven to bake and I haven’t showered or unpacked my gym bag or ANYTHING and I got really sweaty at the gym today and I should really shower and finish cleaning up the kitchen so that I can recap for y’all in my best and brightest form.  So, like, I’m gonna go shower now.  So if y’all could wait a few minutes, that’d be great.  I’ll be right back!

Okay!  I’m back!  I also repacked my gym bag (for tomorrow) and took my baked goods out of the oven so, you know, productive.  I’ll be nixing the time stamps because it isn’t really a live blog anymore.  Just a sort of live blog?  FYI I am officially starting at 9:32, and will be skipping the commercials so, you know, do the math etc.


Oh man, everyone is going back to the hotel, and no one is there to greet them because everyone was in the critique.  We get the run-down of last week’s happenings, including the fact that Young Sun now has $50,000 wow.

Intro! Awards!  Five people remain!  $100,000!  China’s dress is still ridiculous!

The final five sit in a very purple room and have some breakfast.  Lola is all “these people are all my mortal enemy grarrr.”  Simon, of course, drops in to say hello to the final five.  He tells the artist that they will be taking a train to Cold Spring, New York (Young Sun thinks he is going to a spa, ha!)  China will be waiting for them with the official challenge.  This challenge is the last before the finale!  What a journey it has been y’all.  What a journey.

It is a cold and rainy day in NYC.  The finalists head to Grand Central and climb onto Metro North (presumably?)  Dusty is loving leaving the city, because he lives in ARKANSAS and all country looks the same.  Kymia, who has a flower in her hair, tells Sara J. that her sudden upswing is surprising and Sara J. is all “you bitch.”  Anyways, we’re in Cold Spring now.

Cold Spring looks cold!  And rainy!  But more or less it looks like any other little, quaint town in the Hudson River Valley.  China, in a mini trench-coat and weird, white gossamer dress, awaits them.  She tells the final five that only three of them will survive to the finale.  She also reiterates the prizes, just to let everyone know what they’ll be losing if they get eliminated.  The artist’s challenge is interesting:  they need to go through the town, meet a Cold Springs native, and paint his or her person.  They have $200 to buy supplies and a day and a half to find their person and do the portrait.

Kymia and Young Sun start talking to people–Young Sun is smart, he goes to an Inn.  Mostly the artists are just wandering around and talking to people.  Thus far people aren’t that into it–one says she has laryngitis, and one person just says “no.”  However, Dusty finds a mother and her two or three year old little girl.  Dusty is all: “I have a daughter!  She turned one yesterday!  Can I do your daughter’s portrait?”  And her mother is all: “Sure!”  The little girl’s name is Marie.  Dusty decides to depict Marie via a mosaic of candy.

So Cold Springs is interesting!  George Washington named it evidently.  But thus far, no luck for anyone except for Dusty.  And time is running out to find a portrait subject!  Kymia goes into what looks like an antiques store and takes a few pictures of the owners with some of their wares, such as music boxes and dolls and stuffed animals.  Their names are Bob and Barbara and Kymia has them pose like they are skating.  They seem incredibly friendly and are glad to have Kymia do their portrait!  Good for them.

Lola goes into another antique shop that seems to specialize on coins.  The shop is owned by Dennis and Tommy.  They have old currency–1700s and everything.  Lola likes the shop because it is historical, and she’s into history.  Just to be clear–the contestants aren’t doing live sittings, they are taking photographs.

Young Sun is still stuck in this historical Inn and there are only 30 minutes left to find a subject!  Young Sun is freaking out–I don’t blame him, poor dude just got a crazy tour of an old Inn and he has nothing.

Young Sun and Sara J., as far as I know, are the only people without subjects.  Sara J. heads to the fire company and starts chatting up the firemen.  She’s good looking so, you know, this should work.  She starts talking to one of the older firemen, Jackie, who has been a fireman for fiftyish years.  The firemen put her in the fire-fighting gear and, you know, the usual.  Sara decides to do a portrait of Jackie.

Young Sun ends up going into an artist’s studio–Terence Donovan studio.  Young offers the artist $200 to make a portrait of him…in twenty minutes.  Terence reluctantly agrees.  Just an FYI, Terence usually charges $2,000-$4,000 per commission.  I’m guessing he thought the publicity he’d get from the show would make doing a portrait for $200 worthwhile?   Young Sun takes photographs of Terence while he paints his portrait.  Very meta, etc.  Terence says Young Sun has Justin Bieber hair, ha!  Young Sun gets to take his portrait home–Sara J. is super jealous of Young Sun’s idea.

The artists head back to NYC.  The artists are all talking about their ideas, fretting, etc.

The next day everyone heads into the studio to get to work!  Kymia had seen a music box at Bob and Barbara’s store featuring a couple ice skating–this is her inspiration.

Lola is trying to figure out how to represent Dennis and Tommy while also using the old antique money she bought from them–something about the idea of paying money for money is just super-odd to me.

Dusty dumps out his money to do a mosaic portrait of Marie (Moray?)

Young Sun is using detail shots of Terence, cutting them up, and placing them on planks of wood.  The portrait Terence painted of Young sun will also be used in the installation.

Sara is doing a semi-sculptural, aluminum-y portrait of her fireman.

Lola decides to write Tommy and Dennis a letter while not altering the money–Kymia doesn’t see this as a portrait.

Simon strolls in to destroy everyone’s dreams.  He starts with Dusty, whose candy piece is slowly coming together.  It is very graphic and colorful, but it looks like some other work he has done.  Dusty considers doing another piece using paper fortune tellers, and Simon encourages him to consider that direction.

Sara is Simon’s next victim.  He shows Simon her imprint of Jackie’s face, and the charcoal-covered name tags indicating the number of years Jackie has been a fireman.  Simon likes the idea and hopes that the installation works.

Young Sun explains his meta-portrait to Simon.  Simon enjoys working on the idea of the photographic details.  Everyone loves Young, etc.

Simon approaches Kymia (it sounds like he calls her leukemia, heh).  Her piece is a basic portrait…except that her portraits will have four arms.  Simon seems iffy but I think her piece looks fun and lovely.  What is so wrong with a conventional portrait?

Lola!  Lola’s piece thus far is just money lined up.  Simon is all: “So where are your people?”  Simon tells Lola that if she isn’t going to make a figurative piece then she better make a damn good abstract piece.

Simon tells the artists to “go for eeet!”  Dusty is furiously folding paper fortune tellers.  Oof, paper cuts!  Lola and Sara J. go upstairs to smoke and talk about how they don’t like Dusty’s piece.

The evening, in the meantime, is flying by quickly.  Dusty’s new idea is not going to work.  He is not having a good day.  He decides to go back to the candy piece–which I actually think looks good.  Anyways, the evening is up, and everyone heads home.  They sit on their balcony, and toast to each other, and Lola–in her baby voice–casts a spell that will make the judges keep all five of them.  Okay then.  Lord she’s so ridiculous, but she’s grown on me (slightly) these past two episodes.

The next day the artists have ONE HOUR to finish heir work.  Furious running around montage!  Young Sun is worried that since he has spent the entire competition at the top that the only place he has to go is down.  I think that this is his competition to lose.

Kymia isn’t loving Sara’s piece.  Lola is hoping that the judges appreciate her unconventional approach to portraiture.  Everyone scrambles, etc.  Simon comes in to tell the artists that their time is up!  Dusty’s piece sheds M&Ms as it is moved, and he’s okay with that.  We’ll see if the judges are.  Lola, once again, repeats that her unconventional approach to portraiture will win her a spot in the final three.  Well, okay then.

Good lord the Bravo people love to show clips of the Work of Art contestants crying.  Anyways, onto the gallery show.

Lord China looks like she is being strangled by tulle.  She introduces the judges, including guest judge Richard Phillips, who is a contemporary painter.  Did I mention that China looks like she is being strangled by tulle?  Also, Lola is already drinking.  Go girl.

The gallery is opened, and the artists are surprised to see that their portrait subjects are among the guests!

Jerry appreciates that Sara J. has stepped out of her comfort zone!  Evidently her subject was brought to tears by the portrait, which is wonderful.

Kymia’s subjects, Bob and Barbara, are super pleased by how true their portrait is.

Mairead is Dusty’s subject’s name btw.  That’s an interesting name.  And the piece is definitely falling apart–which isn’t bad.

Young’s piece is called “Terence By Young Young By Terence.”  I like that.  Terence loves the piece.

Lola’s piece, as usual, looks like a hot mess.  In my opinion.  If she is going to throw a bunch of stuff together in an installation then she needs to learn how to make better installations.

Anyways, time for the judging!  Some of the work was great.  Some was terrible.  And only three will survive!

The critique starts with Sara.  One side of the piece is abstract, with fifty-eight aluminum name-tags representing Jackie’s years of service, and one is a figurative light portrait made from holes poked in aluminum.  The judges love that the piece isn’t a drawing.  Jerry calls the piece very brave and very bold.  Richard Phillips thinks that the repetition of name tags on one side of the piece diminishes it.  Bill Powers also criticizes Sara’s piece.  Jerry looks like he wants to slap him, and quickly comes to Sara’s defense!  He was really impressed with her piece.  Aw, yay for Sara!

Dusty’s piece is next.  Dusty’s piece continues to fall apart during the critique, which is funny.  Dusty likes that it is a temporary art piece–just like childhood.  The judges all love that the piece is falling apart.  Lola is a total bitch and says “Well it was just an ACCIDENT that this is happening, doesn’t that matter?”  Kymia basically tells her to STFU.  Lola is such a bitch!  “Happy accidents happen to those who deserve them more,” she says.  What does that mean?!  I hate you, Lola, all goodwill has just gone poof.

Lola’s work is next.  Disaster, please send this girl home, she is evil.  Richard Phillips likes the graphic elements of the piece, but China says that it doesn’t read as a portrait.  Jerry admires that it is a complex abstract portrait but criticizes the fact that Lola is so scatterbrained and tries to hit every target at once.  Lola starts crying and trying to defend her piece while also sort of criticizing other people’s pieces and also says she doesn’t want to be seen as a total bitch which, TOO LATE BITCH UNNNGH.  Anyways.

Young Sun’s piece is next.  He explains his piece, etc.  Young Sun’s ideas are very conceptual and neat and clean.  Richard Phillips says that Young Sun could have just hung the portrait Terence did of him, Jerry agrees–and I do too, I actually thought that was going to be Young’s whole piece, was just the portrait Terence did of him, hanging on the wall.  However, I feel–and Young probably felt this too–that he could have been criticized for not “doing” anything had he chosen that route.  Jerry says that Young’s attempt to clarify his thought process has made the piece messy.

Whoa, China’s dress has major sideboob.  Just a sidenote.  Hurr.

Kymia’s turn!  I love her work, I really do, her style is so whimsical and lovely.  Richard Phillips says the piece is almost vomit-worth because it is so sweet, but he overall likes it.  The judges don’t say too much about Kymia’s piece.  I think that means she is safe?

Everyone heads up to the green room to wait and deliberate and wait.

The judges start their conversation.  Jerry says that the five artists who remain are the ones who belong in the final five–interesting, considering his feelings about Michelle.  Sara’s piece is probably safe–the judges like that she took risks, despite the piece’s failings.  The judges like Dusty’s piece but find it fundamentally boring.  They feel more or less the same about Young Sun’s piece, despite his putting his fate into another artist’s hands.  Lola’s piece is, of course, difficult–Jerry respects how difficult it is, but I don’t think anyone likes it.  China and Jerry love that Kymia’s piece is an entry into another world and into an American type.

The final three will get big fancy gallery shows.  Jerry wants artists that will continue to surprise the world–and themselves.  The artists share a group hug as they prepare to head back to the judges’ panel.

Five artists remain, but only three will survive.  The winner of the challenge is Kymia.  YAY!  YAY I LOVE HER!  I don’t love her weird red caftan but man, I’m so happy Kymia moved forward.  She is too, she does a little jumpy dance.  Yay Kymia!

The next artists who gets a spot in the finale is Young Sun.  DUH.  We knew he’d make it.  I thought it would be Kymia, Young, and Michelle–I got two out of three y’all!  I hope that Sara gets the last spot.  I could handle Dusty getting it, but if it is Lola I will be full of rage y’all.  Dusty sort of cries a bit and jumps around and is also excited.

Kymia and Young happily prance away to the studio, leaving Lola, Sara, and Dusty to face potential doom.  Each piece, despite its strengths, have problems.  Dusty’s feels like a gimmick.  Sara’s feel disjointed.  Lola’s wasn’t a portrait.  I’m hoping that Sara gets it, I really am.

Dusty is cut.  This isn’t surprising.  It is a huge bummer–he probably could have used the money more than any of the other contestants, but I don’t think that he belongs in the finale.  I think he won some money at least?  Maybe?  Anyways, bye Dusty.  He’s angry, because he thinks he deserves to be in the finale.

Lola and Sara remain.  Please, for the love of all things, get rid of Lola.  YAY!  THEY DO!  Sara gets to go to the finale.  Sara promptly starts crying, and so does Lola.  I don’t think I could have handled Lola being in the finale, I am down with this decision.  Oh also, China is crying.  Everyone is crying y’all, so many tears!  Anyways,  BYE LOLA.  I won’t miss you.

Next week: the finale!  Simon meets the artists’ families and sees their works and then there is a GIANT gallery show and someone is going to WIN THE COMPETITION GUYS.  AMAZING.  I am so excited!  I hope that you are too.  See you there y’all!

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