German sculptor Joseph Beuys famously said, “Everyone is an artist.” I wondered if all of our interconnectivity and social networking also made everyone a critic. For me, criticism is a way of showing respect for art; I wanted to share that respect with a large audience and see if it would reciprocate.I take him at his word. I am a fan of Jerry's but I didn't watch a single episode of season one, and even avoided reading articles and blog posts about the show. I did this not because the show didn't reflect the "real art world," that is after all a very tall order, I did it because at first it seemed everyone seemed to be watching the show. What's the point of being an artist if you do what everybody else is doing? But my contrarian knee-jerk turned to real discomfort as I began to hear about the show. I found the concept of challenges and elimination rounds disrespectful to my small place within the art world. I make art for a living and it bummed me out to have to a museum I love (the Brooklyn Museum has a world class collection and suffers a farm team reputation largely because of its unfortunate proximity to the Modern and the Met) and a critic I really like (Jerry is seriously one of my personal favorites) using young artists as unpaid fodder for a game-show.
I am writing this now because I'm a contrarian and everyone else is done loving and hating Work of Art - everyone but my brother-in-law, Steve Mesler, who is an art fabricator and blogs about art for Huffinton Post, and is one of my closest friends. He has repeatedly defended the show in conversation. He found the artists on the show supportive of one another and pressed me to consider how badly they were being treated not just by snarky bloggers but by Bravo. He and I have a long history of stupid bets and endless arguments, but also of pushing one another to do better. When he told me he planned to video interviews of the kids on line last weekend it got me wondering what constellation of events it would take to get me to watch season two with him. I'll do it but I have one condition: That the producers follow Jerry Saltz's suggestions and hired Christian Viveros-Faune and Bill Powhida to be on the show. Those changes guarantee more reality TV drama and fun than an open bar on the Jersey Shore.
Bill Powhida, Zoolander, Billy Zane and Christian Viveros-Faune