My wife and I have been watching Work Of Art: The Next Great Artist on Bravo. It is another typical reality/competition show with artists competing in challenges in order to impress a panel of (allegedly) qualified judges. As this show goes to it’s final episode, I feel compelled to remark on the one photographer who was a contestant – Mark Velasquez.
When the show came on, I was impressed by the Bravo casting department to see a photographer represented among the cast that included painters, sculpters, and performance and conceptual artists. I confess to immediately becoming biased and prejudice in favor of Mark’s work. Then I did the unthinkable. I actually looked at his work, and I found it humorous, creative, edgy, sexy, and even on the slight edge of “eww”. In other words, he is an artist who uses photography to express his artistic vision.
As the show progressed it became clear that although (in my not unbiased opinion) Mark was producing far superior work than his fellow artists, he never won a “challenge”. When he was sent home, I found the judging on his work beyond hypocritical, and the final nail in the coffin of the competence of the (allegedly qualified) judges.
Okay, so Mark didn’t make it to the top 3 (after the top 3 were anointed on Wednesday’s episode, I believe even more strongly that with one exception, the truly best artists have already been sent home), but photography has been well represented on the show all the same. All of the artists/competitors have used cameras quite a few times in the creation of their work. From point and shoots being used to capture and collect visual reference points, to creating self-portraits that are then painted, drawn, or otherwise manipulated, to painters using photographs for their challenge pieces (one of the more well done pieces of the show), cameras have been an important part of artists creating art.
In addition to the physical presence of cameras, Bravo’s Work Of Art has also had photographers as guest judges and critics! Andres Serrano, of the “Piss Christ” infamy, helped judge the “shocking art” challenge. David Lachapelle will be a guest judge for the finale!
I have often said that I take pictures because I can’t paint or draw or sculpt. Photography is my artistic expression. It isn’t merely a hobby or occasional income generator. I like being creative with my photography, and I am very happy to see photography treated as art among drawings, paintings, and sculptures.
Now if only we could get rid of pretentious artists and reality show contestant facades….