Bravo is pretty much known these days for the “Real Housewives of…” series, but with its newest venture, it’s going a bit more highbrow. From the production company that brought you “Top Chef” and “Project Runway” and in collaboration with Sarah Jessica Parker’s production company “Pretty Matches”, comes a new hour long creative competition. “Work of Art: The Next Great Artist” brings fourteen aspiring contemporary artists competing for a solo show at the prestigious Brooklyn Museum and a cash prize of $100,000. The show premieres on Wednesday June 9, 2010 at 10pm.

Each week, the contestants will face challenges that will require them to create unique pieces using a variety of mediums. From photography, painting, sculpting, industrial design, nothing is out the question. The weekly assignments will push their limits of their creative boundaries. To guide them through their endeavors will be Simon de Pury (a world-renowned art auctioneer) who’ll act as their mentor. Think Tim Gunn with an Art Degree.

Their finished products will be judged by industry experts: Bill Powers, a New York gallery owner; Jerry Saltz, an art critic for New York Magazine; and Jeanne Greenbeg Rohatyn, an esteemed curator and art gallery owner. Joining on the fun as host and judge is China Chow who is an art enthusiast, former model and actress.

I love me my reality competition shows, but I love them even more when it involves talented people. It’ll be very interesting to see how the art world receives this competition. Will “Work for Art” be credible like “American Idol” is for music or will this be more like “ANTM”? After watching numerous SYTYCD seasons, it’s a known fact that contemporary dancers have a bigger advantage in taking home the title, than say a ballroom or tap dancer. With regards to this competition, it’ll be fascinating to see if photographers, painters or sculptors have the upper hand.


I was going to write my own commentary for each contestant, but decided not to as I’d be talking out of my ass. Sure I took a couple of Art History courses in university, but my knowledge for contemporary art is limited at best. Having said that, I know what I like when I see it. After perusing through all the contestants portfolios, Mark, Jamie Lynn, Miles, Abdi and Peregrine all impressed me. I wouldn’t be surprised if they made it far in the competition or even the finals. Another contestant worth mentioning is Trong. Some of his pieces are very fascinating, especially his iPhone app.

Here are the contestants for “Work of Art: The Next Great Artist” season one contestants:

RYAN SHULTZ
Age: 27
Hometown: Libertyville, IL
Media: Oil painting
Website: http://www.ryanshultz.com/

Ryan exists by his motto “I live to create – I create to live.” Having taught himself to paint when he was young, Ryan’s skill secured him a full tuition fellowship to Northwestern University where he earned his MFA. Since high school, he has lived solely off his art through prize money, commissions and teaching private art lessons. To date Ryan has shown his work in over 60 juried art shows. His work deals primarily with youth culture and the “cult of excess,” depicting scenes of intoxication and drug use, alienation and cigarette exhalation. Ryan uses classical oil painting techniques to create modern day pieces capturing his generation. In this sense, his work is a marriage of the present and the past, a re-utilization of past techniques to make works that explore the romanticized views of self-destruction and masculinity so prevalent in our culture.

MARK VELASQUEZ
Age: 32
Hometown: Santa Maria, CA
Media: Drawing, sculpture, performance art, photography
Website: http://www.markvelasquez.com/

Fry cook by day, photographer by night; Mark believes art is a lifestyle choice, not a career. With a BFA from Cornish College of the Arts focusing on drawing, sculpture and performance art, he taught himself photography by shooting model portfolios. Eventually, Mark recruited these women as a pool of talent to create his own theatrical concept shoots. Though he attended catholic school and served for years as an altar boy, his art is typically racy, and often infused with humor or sarcasm. Mark views his work as a constant commentary on society and he isn’t afraid to use sex to sell it. Though still living in his conservative hometown, he has worked as a traveling assistant to artist James Luna and has acquired a large online following for his unusual and provocative creations. Mark is currently editing his first photography book, which seeks to document his friendship with several of the small-town models he often shoots, capturing the personalities that lie behind the sensual images.

NICOLE NADEAU
Age: 25
Hometown: New York, NY
Media: Various alternative & industrial material
Website: http://www.nicolenadeau.com/

After four years at the Rochester Institute of Technology, two years at Parsons School of Design and a resulting Bachelor of Fine Arts in Industrial Design, Nicole was immediately recruited to join a design and architecture firm. Realizing her true calling was in more conceptual fabrication, she traded her stable income at the firm to independently establish connections between art and design. With an affinity for various alternative and industrial material, Nicole creates functional art-objects infused with poetry and sculptural style. Her pieces feature themes of connectivity and interaction, science and geometry, ritual and play. Nicole’s work has been featured at the Elemental Gallery at Art Basel Miami in 2008 and 2009, Felissimo Gallery, X-Initiative, as well as at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF). Her internship with Olaf Breuning and a prosperous ongoing design partnership she co-founded, KNS design collective, keeps her busy and aesthetically flexible. Nicole is preparing for a group show “Breakable” with KNS at the Heller Gallery in May. Operating as a free-lance design consultant, Nicole is currently developing a collection for Ralph Lauren Home.

AMANDA WILLIAMS
Age: 35
Hometown: Chicago, IL
Media: Painting
Website: http://awgallery.com/

A Cornell University graduate, Amanda studied and practiced architecture for a number of years before committing to a fulltime pursuit of her true passion, painting. Since that time, she has quickly developed an artistic presence within the fine arts community. Amanda has cultivated a signature style combining color, space, text and fragments of conversations she’s overheard to create pieces that deal with identity and personal freedom. Her work is sold through several galleries across the country as well as from her own studios. Amanda has exhibited nationally including: the Studio Museum in Harlem, YBCA in San Francisco and DePaul University’s Art Museum in Chicago. She was the inaugural recipient of Hennessy Cognac’s, Emerging Artist Award, and 2008 winner of a public art commission from the San Francisco General Hospital Foundation. Amanda also serves as an Adjunct Professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology and the California College of the Arts.

JOHN PAROT
Age: 40
Hometown: Dekalb, IL
Media: Painting, Drawing
Website: http://beautifuldecay.com/2010/01/15/john-parot/

John has been making art since he was five years old, began selling it in the 1980’s, and created his first gallery show in the 1990’s. Currently an art studio manager in Los Angeles, he has obtained commissions for T-shirt designs, gallery logos, record labels, and most notably, to create a piece of original artwork for the rooftop of a Mini Cooper to be auctioned off for charity. With a MFA from Maryland Institute College of Art and a post–graduate fellowship at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, John is proficient in several mediums, but focuses on painting and drawing. He has shown his work in over 40 group exhibitions and in 10 solo exhibitions, including a solo show at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. John seeks to integrate the gay community as a theme in much of his work and experiments with the use of color and pattern through combinations of material. John is presently working on a solo show for the Western Exhibitions gallery in Chicago.

MILES MENDENHALL
Age: 23
Hometown: Minneapolis, MN
Media: Various
Website: http://milesmendenhall.com/

Miles, a recent graduate from the University of Minnesota, is interested in exploring perception, persona, and control through his art. As the youngest artist ever to receive a Minnesota State Arts Board grant, Miles was able to land two solo shows by the time he graduated, as well as sell the entirety of the art in his senior show. Since graduation, he has capitalized on his talent by selling art both independently and through multiple exhibitions. Miles works part time as a studio assistant, and in his free time, enjoys skateboarding and good audio books.

JAMIE LYNN HENDERSON
Age: 25
Hometown: Lawton, OK
Media: Drawing, painting with gouache, acrylics, and watercolors
Website: http://www.jaimelynnhenderson.moonfruit.com/

Jaime Lynn recently graduated from the School of The Art Institute of Chicago with an MFA in Painting and Drawing, and went to undergrad at the University of Oklahoma. With the support of her family behind her, Jaime Lynn’s dream of making a living off art is coming to fruition. She has been awarded “Best in Show” at the Skin Exhibition in Oklahoma City, OK (2007), as well as “Best New Artist Working on Paper” at the Around the Coyote exhibit in Chicago, IL (2009). She has shown at several galleries in the mid-west area and most recently began a studio residency at The Merchandise Mart in Chicago. Jaime Lynn spends most of her time painting with gouache, acrylics, and watercolors on oversized pieces of paper, illustrating the common theme in her work: delusions of grandeur. A self-proclaimed Army Brat and a devout Christian, she is inspired by her own struggle to embrace an existence of vapid glitz and fame, juxtaposed by her desire to lead a virtuous and humble life.

CHECK OUT THE WORK OF ART SEASON 1 GALLERY. CLICK ON THE PICTURE ABOVE

ERIK JOHNSON
Age: 31
Hometown: Homer Glen, IL
Media: Film, painting
Website: http://www.residualscars.com/

Erik, new to the fine art industry, plans on shocking and shaking up the art world with his unique perspective. He first found his passion for filmmaking while creating the short film “The Ghost of Christmas Presents,” which debuted at Cannes Film Festival in 2006. Though he has no formal training, Erik is excited about experimenting with all mediums. On his path to gain a broader depth of experience in the art world, he ultimately hopes to improve his cinematographic creations. As evidenced in his films and most recently, his paintings, Erik seeks to provoke thought with his unusual and often dark creations.

ABDI FARAH
Age: 23
Hometown:Baltimore, MD
Media: Painting, sculpture and printmaking
Website: http://abdiart.com/

At the young age of 23, Abdi is making waves in the art world. A recent graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, he was one of four students in the nation to be awarded the Scholastics Art and Writing Gold Portfolio and was named a Presidential Scholar in the Arts, granting him an audience with the President of the United States. In 2008, the Yale Norfolk Summer School of Art selected Abdi into their program, and the following year he spent time studying abroad in Southern France. Primarily a painter, he has a passion for sculpture and printmaking. With a supportive family behind him, an infectious smile, and the drive to succeed, Abdi’s career has only just begun.

JUDITH BRAUN
Age: 62
Hometown: Albany, NY
Media: Drawing, painting, photocopy and text, graphite and charcoal
Website: http://judithannbraun.com/

Judith began her formal art training in 1965 at the Fashion Institute of Technology where she studied illustration. The oldest contestant in the competition, Judith proves that with age comes wisdom and with experience comes the desire to keep learning. With four art related degrees, eight solo exhibitions, and numerous group exhibitions in far reaching locations such as Spain, Miami, and New York, Judith is showing no signs of slowing down. Throughout her career, she has traveled to give a slide lecture at the Art University of Berlin, participated in the “Bad Girls” exhibition at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York, and obtained a front-page review in ArtNet Magazine. Judith’s artistic journey has encompassed the disciplines of realistic figure drawing and painting, photocopy and text, and most recently, graphite and charcoal. Based in New York City, she seeks to explore her creative expression within the constraints of abstraction, symmetry, and carbon based materials.

JACLYN SANTOS
Age: 26
Hometown: Miami, FL
Media: Oil painting, video, photography, drawing
Website: http://www.jaclynsantos.com/

Jaclyn graduated Cum Laude from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2007 where she received numerous scholarships and awards for her artistic achievements. After graduation, she moved to New York City and worked as a studio assistant to mix-media artist Jeff Koons for two years. Jaclyn currently has her own art studio in a professional artist community in Long Island City, NY, where she concentrates on oil on canvas, though she is also experienced working with video, photography and drawing. Jaclyn’s pieces deal with themes of sexuality and spirituality, and through her narrative paintings of women, she embraces and questions this supposed dichotomy. The work serves to chronicle her personal experiences while making relevant social commentary. Ambitious and focused, Jaclyn paints for the pure love of it, but seeks to further engage herself in the cultural dialogue of the contemporary art community.

NAO BUSTAMANTE
Age: 46
Hometown: San Joaquin, CA
Media: Performance art, video installation, visual art, filmmaking, writing
Website: http://www.naobustamante.com/

Nao believes that the medium chooses her. Known widely as a performance artist, her work also encompasses video installation, visual art, filmmaking, and writing. She has presented in galleries, museums, universities and underground sites across the globe, most notably at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, the Museum of Modern Art, Sundance Film Festival in 2008 and 2010, and the Kiasma Museum of Helsinki. Nao’s work is aligned with feminist art, and often explores the intersections of race and cultural identity. A graduate of San Francisco Art Institute, Nao currently teaches New Media and Live Art at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in upstate New York.

PEREGRINE HONIG
Age: 33
Hometown: San Francisco, CA
Media: Sculptures, imagery, texts
Website: http://www.peregrinehonig.com/

Peregrine made a name for herself when a set of her prints were purchased by the Whitney Museum of American Art, establishing her as the youngest living artist to be included in the permanent collection. Peregrine’s sculptures, imagery, and texts explore themes of sexual vulnerability, trends in disease, and social hierarchies. Peregrine resides in Kansas City, MO where she attended Kansas City Art Institute. She currently curates projects and annual events under the umbrella “Fahrenheit” and owns a lingerie boutique “Birdies”. To date, her work is part of the permanent collections of the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University, the National Museum of Women in the Arts, and The Chicago Art Institute, among others. She has had solo exhibits in Santa Fe, Kansas City, and Chicago, and has shown in group exhibitions in New York and across the globe. Peregrine is a recipient of the Art Omi International Artists’ Residency, the Charlotte Street Fund, and an Inspiration Grant. She recently produced a magazine titled Widow, in collaboration with Landfall Press, that explores the relationship between fashion and art.

TRONG NGUYEN
Age: 38
Hometown: Saigon, Vietnam
Media: Various
Website: http://www.cameandwent.com/

Born in Vietnam, artist and curator Trong now resides in Brooklyn, New York. He has exhibited his work extensively including solo shows at Galerie Quynh in Vietnam in 2009 and the Fruit & Flower Deli in New York in 2008. His group exhibitions include Satellites at the Freies Museum in Berlin, Sequences in Iceland, and Performa in New York. His projects have been reviewed in the New York Times, Time Out New York, Paper, Village Voice, and many other publications. Recently, Trong finished writing a “lost chapter” to The Da Vinci Code based on the secret love life of Marcel Duchamp. He is currently working on a “metaphysical GPS” application for the iPhone and his artist-as-company project, Humanitarians Not Heroes.

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