Defending Bravo's Work of Art

Ever since becoming pregnant I've found myself with with an extra evening habit:  television.  Where I used to follow an 8 hour work day with dinner, exercise and some sort of productive craft, the lattermost activity has been replaced with lounging on the world's most comfortable couch and watching whatever crap time warner cable has in store for me. However, the current crap really isn't crap at all.   Well, depending on who you ask.  Last night I caught up on the first 3 episodes of Bravo's new show Work of Art (thank you Time Warner on Demand!) I was prepared to totally and completely hate it at the starting gate and even felt my blood start to boil a bit at the thought of an art reality show.  I mean, if the advertising agency had pointed a loaded gun at the art world, this show would certainly be the hand to pull the trigger, right?

According to my perusal of every hipster blog out there today, the answer would be yes.  Seems the tightest jeaned among us just couldn't bear the thought of liking a reality show about art and, no matter how talented the artists or how great the prize, they just weren't going to budge from their hipper than though soapboxes.  I can't believe those assholes even have a tv.  Well, I liked the show and here's why:

1.  the contestants are actually pretty good

Miles Mendenhall

While an art school education does not talent make, it should be noted that all but one of the contestants have been formally trained.  One is the youngest to have work purchased by the Whitney Museum (her prints were picked up at the tender age of 22) while another was the youngest ever to receive the Minnesota State Arts grant (and subsequently sold out his entire senior solo show).  Point being, these aren't a bunch of outsider artists fucking off about their feelings with staplers and acrylic paint.

2.  the contestants are interesting

Miles Mendenhall

Take Miles (who's work is shown above) for example, who literally curls up in a ball on a warehouse floor and GOES TO SLEEP in the midst of a timed challenge because the chaos of it all is just too overwhelming for his obsessive compulsive need for order.  Rock-of-Love style catfighters are a dime a dozen but a grown man who shuts down in the face of possible fame?  Yeah, I'll watch that.

I'll also watch the conceptual artist who is quick to tell the judges that their reaction to her work is not her problem.

Or a grown man named Trong.  It is seriously all good.

3.  No one is eating ramen noodles

John Parot

Before Work of Art one artist was selling his clothes to buy art supplies, a few lived with their parents, and most couldn't pay their bills.  Now each of them is handed the opportunity to get free food, free beer and free art supplies all in the name of gaining a name, a solo show at the Brooklyn Museum of Art and a quick $100,000 all while doing what they love.  The price?  A little face time and maybe a few crappy interviews.

4.  it's better than america's got talent

Jaime Lynn Henderson

That show makes me want to chew my face off it's so boring.

6.  So it's kinda bullshit.  Whatever.

So what if the idea of an art contest is a bit of bullshit.  Isn't the art world kinda bullshit in general?  If you want to put a roof over your head you have to pimp out your work (or hire and agent to do it for you) and, unfortunately, like most fields, the income to talent ratio is not nearly as important as the asskissing to gameplaying ratio.  You can paint 18 hours a day and have more talent than god, but if you don't put yourself out there in some way or another, you're going to have to get a day job.  Or you can go on reality tv.

Abdi Farah

You may hate this show, and that's totally fine with me, but just hate it because you find watching artists work boring, or you think the judges are rude or because it's a total project runway knock off.  Don't hate it because you think the contestants are selling out.

All works shown in this post are from the contestant's portfolios, none were from the show as I didn't want to spoil anything.  For more portfolio views and show hype, go here