Jerry Saltz is interviewed in Time Out Chicago this week about his role in the much-anticipated (among reality t.v. fans and art snarks like me, anyway) new television show Work of Art. I never knew Saltz was from Chicago! Nor did I realize he was an adjunct faculty member of the School of the Art Institute, either. Check out the full interview here; a brief excerpt follows.
Why’d you want to be a judge on Work of Art?
It isn’t for the money. I won’t tell you what I make, but it’s really not much. I wanted to perform criticism in public to show that it’s not an elitist practice but specialist and subjective—and more thrilling than people imagine.
So you think the show will help make visual art more accessible?
I do. People are frightened of looking at and making judgments about art, and they don’t need to be. They just need to look longer, see harder, listen to themselves, and they’ll hear voices they didn’t know they had in their heads, voices of real discernment.
It helps that, unlike with Top Chef, viewers experience the products themselves, so they form their own opinions as the judges form theirs.
Yes. I think the act of making art is not inherently sexy to most people. With food, that’s implied penetration and sexual. Sometimes watching somebody saw a piece of wood—not so interesting. To me, however, it’s metaphysically sensual—watching somebody try to imbed thought in material.
More than any other art form, visual art seems off-putting to people.
Why do you think that is?
We are not sure as a culture what art is to us. So when people are presented with stuff that is called art, nobody knows what to do with it. And that’s sad to me because people make visual judgments every single day: what color are you wearing, what material is it.
Has the art world itself contributed to that sense of inaccessibility?
It takes a lifetime sometimes to understand why an all-white painting is art. It’s hard for me sometimes to remember, to relive why a bicycle wheel mounted upside down on a stool is art.
Things have been way too serious around this here blog lately, and it’s mostly my fault. Meg, we need you to curate us up a bunch of new cat videos, pronto!! But I do have this small scrap of completely un-newsworthy information to offer y’all. A bit of gossip came through the BAS grapevine which we are passing along to those of you who care about Bravo’s upcoming Untitled Artist Project, the Sarah Jessica Parker-produced t.v. reality series that pits artist against artist. We hear that artist Andres Serrano will be the guest judge on the show’s first episode, which is also one of several that will take place in the Phillips de Pury & Company headquarters in Chelsea. The set will feature a kind of “greatest hits” showcase of the used-to-be controversial, now just tired “Piss Christ” artist’s works, whose last exhibition at Yvon Lambert in New York was titled “SHIT” and featured photographs of shit.
If it is indeed true that Serrano winds up being the first featured artist on the series (I wouldn’t be surprised if the planned order of shows gets switched around in the editing process, so who really knows), it’s a sure signal that the Untitled Artist Project wants to start out with a bang by selecting guest artists whose work is perceived as being “extreme” in some way, and that more of the same will follow.
And you know, that’s perfectly fine with me. I can’t wait for this show. My only fear about it is that it’ll be on too late for me to watch it given how freaking tired I am at the day. What I’m most anticipating actually is the chatter that will take place on Bravo’s online forums as viewers start rooting for favorites and fervently justifying their reasons for doing so. Will the artist/contestants on Bravo’s show gain audience favor/hatred via their personalities or the art they make? I personally don’t care which it winds up being – I’m not looking for anything other than some great television from this show, although I certainly wouldn’t rule out the possibility that we might get lucky and get a lot more than that out of it.
The Getty Museum on Fire? Not so far, according to the latest L.A. Times report. Thankfully the Center’s evacuation seems to have gone smoothly. Sad to say, but this kind of disaster is a regular occurrence in SoCal, and it’s not the first time the Getty’s been threatened by advancing flames. Here’s hoping everything’s back to “normal” quickly. For the rest of what’s been happening so far this week, read on…
*Jason Foumberg of NewCity reports on the cessation of Individual Artist Grants this year, and in forthcoming years, from the Driehouse Foundation.
*Arts Stimulus Funding and the Art Economy: Hrag Vartanian at Art 21 explains it all for you (extremely clearly and well; especially useful for those of us who suck at math).
*In Chicago, interest in building a South Loop art scene is on the rise, but can it really happen in this economy? (Chicagoist).
*Lynn Becker does it again: my fave architectural blogger gleefully deconstructs the wedding photos of a fab young couple who got married at the Art Institute (Edward Lifson took the gorgeous pics). Edited to add: I only just realized that “Lynn” is a he! Whoops.
*Sarah Jessica Parker talks to Artnet about her partnership with Bravo on The Untitled Artist Project (via Art Fag City, who also has an exclusive interview with the show’s casting director Nick Gilhool).
*Gallerist/blogger Edward Winkleman’s book “How to Start and Run a Commercial Gallery” to be released July 14th by Allworth Press. Click here to preorder the book on Amazon; Bad at Sports interviews Winkleman about running his own art gallery on Episode 169 of the podcast here.
*Check out the British Council and Whitechapel Art Gallery’s The Fifth Curator competition, for aspiring curators outside the U.K.
Forget all the news about Chicago city arts grants, potentially major boosts to NEA funding, and all that other boring crap. I would be remiss were I not to inform Chicago artists about this fabulous opportunity, no? Bravo is launching a new counterpart to its Top Chef, Top Designer, put-12-aspiring-whatevers-into-a-weekly competitive-lineup-and-get-them-to-cry franchise, but this time it’s devoted to makers of contemporary art. Finally, artists are getting their due!
The L.A. Times reports that, “according to the application instructions for potential contestants, the show’s producers are looking for ‘emerging or mid-career’ artists who work in any number of the following fields: painting, sculpture, installation, video, photography and mixed-media.”
Everybody thinks this show’s gonna suck, but I actually have very high hopes for SJP’s (that’s Sarah Jessica Parker to those of you not in the celeb gossip loop) newest television venture. I didn’t know she was into contemporary art, but I’m not interested in that angle of celebrity worship, Brad Pitt notwithstanding. Top Chef looked like it wouldn’t work (who wants to watch a reality show about food, we all thought) and we were wrong, wrong, wrong. Hopefully, the naysayers will be disproved once again and we’ll get some great television out of this.
Art Fag City is speculating that Matthew Higgs might be one of the judges (or maybe even the Top guy, a la Tom Colicchio?) but I truly hope this is not the case. Higgs is all wrong for this. Please God, let it be Schimmel instead. He’s probably looking for a job right now, and he would be absolutely perfect. Now, who should they pick for his junior underlings? I can think of so many possibilities…but perhaps it would be mean to hazard any further guesses? Up here, anyway–but feel free to do so in the comments.
Now, getting back to the critical business at hand: the Chicago audition information is as follows:
Thursday, July 16, 10 AM – 2 PM, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Sullivan Galleries, 33 State Street (www.saic.edu).
See you on the small screen.