Monday, April 27, 2009

Cash (or at least Fame) for Your Art

Who'd have thunk it? Just as the world economy takes its worst turn since the Great Depression, opportunities for artists to make some serious dosh (or at least a widely televised splash) are seemingly abounding. Some efforts are a bit more appealing than others, mind you.

First comes news of the quarter of a million dollar prize being offered by Rick DeVos, grandson of both a co-founder of Amway and the founder of Prince Corporation, for the winner of his newly launched ArtPrize. As reports:
ArtPrize includes a $250,000 award for its winner, to be determined by a public vote. The second place prize will consist of $100,000 and the third place of $50,000. The remaining members of the top 10 will receive $7,000 each. The three winning artists must either donate their works to ArtPrize or create similar works that will then be given to the organization.

To enter, artists will submit proposals at, while venues of all kinds — parks, bank lobbies, businesses, and museums — in Grand Rapids will review the artists' proposals and choose ones to show in their spaces. The artists, if selected, will bring their work to Grand Rapids for 16 days this fall, Sept. 23 to Oct. 10. People who visit the show in person can sign up to vote. Voting will be conducted through cell phones, online, and via other digital media.
UPDATE: As astute reader Jason Lujan discovered (by actually doing what I had failed to and reading the Artprize application process guidlines), there is a $50.00 application fee for artists for this prize. Furthermore, what is meant by "negotiate a hosting agreement" with a participating venue could include a fee as well (it seems to be up to the venues, who also are asked to pay a $100 application fee).

Then there's news that SJP's artist competition may actually end up on Bravo after all (after a round of hoopla about this show a while back, lately there had been only crickets [I have been searching Bravo's site looking for news for a while]). Now it seems Bravo is serious enough about this show to post news of it on their blog at least:
AMERICAN ARTIST (working title)
Golden Globe and Emmy Award winner Sarah Jessica Parker and her production company, Pretty Matches, will team with the Emmy-nominated Magical Elves ("Top Chef," "Project Runway") and Eli Holzman, to produce "American Artist" (wt), an hour long creative competition series among contemporary artists. "American Artist" will bring together twelve aspiring artists to compete for a gallery show, a cash prize and a sponsored national tour. In each episode, contestants will create unique works of art highlighting art's role in everyday life, while they compete and create in a range of disciplines including sculpture, painting, photography and industrial design (to name a few). In working beyond their preferred mediums, artists will have to adapt quickly to changes in order to succeed. Completed works of art will be appraised by a panel of top art world figures including fellow artists, gallerists, collectors, curators and critics. The finalists' work will be showcased in a nation-wide museum tour. "American Artist" is produced by Magical Elves and Pretty Matches for Bravo. Dan Cutforth, Jane Lipsitz, Sarah Jessica Parker, Alison Benson and Eli Holzman serve as executive producers.
Perhaps it's just having come off a lovely relaxing weekend, but this bit gave me a bout of uncontrollable giggles: ""American Artist" is produced by Magical Elves." If that's not your cup of tea, then I'm not sure this following offering will strike you as much better, but...I recently received the following via email (click to see larger):

It's not encouraging that the URL for that email ( is a Go Daddy placeholder, but $100,000 will pay at least two months' studio rent in New York. The Miami Herald dug a bit deeper and found:
During 13 episodes, undiscovered artists will live together and compete for to have their careers transformed. The series will include grueling art challenges and artistic tests in different styles, forms and mediums, but the grand prize of $100,000 may be worth all the trouble.
OK, so I have to admit that I would approach both those reality TV shows with a nearly insurmountable degree of suspicion. The idea that the sort of developed-for-drama challenges that make for good reality TV will also lead to good art seems unlikely, but...again, they are offering prizes. Your call.

Labels: artist opportunity


Blogger Brandon Juhasz said...

I wonder if being on American Artist would actually hurt your career as an artist, if it would some how de-legitimize both your motives and your talent. After the show you'd always be known as the artist from that show. hmmmm

4/27/2009 09:59:00 AM  
Blogger Tom Hering said...

Maybe "Gallery Nightmares" is next, with a highly successful Gordon Ramsay-type (Gagosian?) going around trying to save failing galleries. "Donkey! Pig!"

4/27/2009 10:15:00 AM  
Blogger Tom Hering said...

And how about "Survivor: Providence" with fine-art grad students voted off the (Rhode) island?

4/27/2009 10:40:00 AM  
Blogger Lauren said...

Publicity is publicity.

4/27/2009 10:52:00 AM  
Blogger Sean Capone said...

Well, 'Artstar' didn't seem to get any careers off the launching pad, but that could have been a question of exposure. I am just afraid that Fox executives or whoever believe that the art-making process is somehow exciting...images of Jackson Bollocks heroically splashing paint around.

But who knows, this could be the future of art-star career building in a 'post-market' economy. The superstars of the art world, what they make is usually besides the point anyway. Project Runway consistently rewards market-friendly work and discourages more avante-garde fashion statements; when one considers that someone like Stephen Sprouse or Hussein Chalayan or Alexander McQueen would be laughed off the stage by Heidi Klum & Co. if they sent one of their concepts down the runway, my guess is get ready to see a lot of boring, laughably unchallenging 'art' being made on these programs.

4/27/2009 11:13:00 AM  
Anonymous untitled said...

I have also been wanting to hear more about Parkers show. I'm having a hard time believing it could actually happen. I normally ignore all reality tv shows because they are pathetic trash, but this idea would be hilarious. It would pander to the masses who have the most absurd ideas about what art is. Thats what I would find most interesting: how the show would be received by a general audience.

It should go without saying that the art will be pretty bad, and like Brandon wrote, no artist featured would ever be taken seriously in the art world. But their work would sell anyway, so if you are not a serious artist but want to sell your work, getting on the show would be great.

Do we know when it'll premiere?

4/27/2009 11:24:00 AM  
Blogger Sean Capone said...

Why assume automatically that the art world wouldn't take the contestants seriously? The whole affair could provide an interesting meta-conceptual context for a young artist's practice, one that is fully dissolved within the flow of the media instead of simply operating in endless, boring 'reaction' to pop culture.

Anyway, celebrity itself is now a talent.

Do you think we'll see any video art on these shows?

The reality 'challenge' shows are really about the interpersonal, behind-the-scenes drama anyway. An artist could likely stay in performance-art mode the entire time and proclaim the show itself as his/her work.

4/27/2009 12:05:00 PM  
Anonymous jason lujan said...

you failed to mention the $50 entry fee for Artprize, which to me makes it only an opportunity to whoever is collecting the money; not for artists.

4/27/2009 12:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Diana said...

If I was Mr. Goldfinger Id have them all for breakfast in bed!

4/27/2009 12:15:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

you failed to mention the $50 entry fee for Artprize,Yikes! I hadn't drilled that far down into the site to see that. Thanks for the warning.

I'll update the post.

4/27/2009 12:21:00 PM  
Blogger Sean Capone said...

Ed, any thoughts on this article:

Art funds? Toxic assets?

4/27/2009 12:24:00 PM  
Blogger Tom Hering said...

Re: $50 entry fee. There are also "Assistance" options on the ArtPrize site for both venues and artists, including help with the fee, finding a venue, travel and installation.

4/27/2009 12:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

is sarah jessica parker an art collector? what does she collect?

4/27/2009 01:29:00 PM  
Blogger Mark Creegan said...

I would absolutley LOVE to see Ed on the panel of American Artist! email campaign!

Dave Hickey would be awesome too!

4/27/2009 02:20:00 PM  
Blogger Joanne Mattera said...

And the loser gets a show at a New York vanity gallery! No expenses paid. Cost to the "winning" loser: about $3500, not counting the airfare and hotel.

This artist will have plenty of company, as there will be about a dozen other artists having "solos" in the same gallery at the same time.

Only kidding about this "prize" but not about this:

Be afraid. Be very afraid. Run.

4/27/2009 02:40:00 PM  
Blogger Saul said...

Regardless of how the art world will react to the work generated on a show like American Artist, my concern lies with how art and artists will be presented to the mainstream audience. Will we see the same stereotypes of the artist as "wishy-washy dreamer", or artist with "tormented souls" and all that other sort of jibba-jabba. Will they mystify the art making process further or will they make it more accessible to the public?

4/27/2009 02:45:00 PM  
Blogger Joanne Mattera said...

The producers are not thinking about the artist. Not at all. They will be exploiting every possible stereotype, just as they have done with the fashion, chef, model and hairstyling shows: vanity, insecurity, egotism, backbiting, jealousy, etc.

Sara Jessica Parker, shill for haircoloring and high heels, is not the person into whose hands you want to entrust your career--unless your L'Oreal or Manolo Blahnik.

Ed, how was your vacation?

4/27/2009 04:04:00 PM  
Blogger Sean Capone said...

How will the artists be presented? You'll have your basic types straight from central casting:

1) Hipster jock painter-collage dude,
2) Day-glo hippy elf gay guy,
3) Aggressive dyke video artist,
4) Fashion photographer style pig,
5) Theory conceptual installation nerd,
6) Cool earth-goddess painter chick, and..
(above are all white, so..)
7) Black guy (preferably gay too).

Did I leave anybody out?

4/27/2009 04:14:00 PM  
Blogger Bill said...

To bad Bravo won't do a series like their successful and relevant "Inside The Actor's Studio."

"Inside The Artists Studio." could be a fantastic look into the creative process, exhibitions, and achievements of famous (or emerging) artists from around the world.

Ed, please pitch this to Bravo - your loyal bloggers could help by submitting emails, and I would vote for you to be the host!

4/27/2009 04:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The prize money is being funded by the Dick & Besty Devos Foundation, Rick Devos’s parents. The Devos’s have a deep history of charitable and political contributions mostly involving Christian organizations and have been contributors to James Dobeson’s Focus on the Family Ministries and have made contributions supporting California’s Proposition 8.

- from Richard Kooyman's facebook essay

4/27/2009 04:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric C said...

Artprize is interesting and a challenge because the public vote for the best. I really like that.

What's accepted and what's not is where there may be a problem. The deciders surely have bias and preferences.


PS: the fees is like in any festival. Anybody can send a feature film for consideration at the Cannes festival, you just need to pay the fees (wish it was that easy for an art biennial).

4/27/2009 05:10:00 PM  
Blogger David Cauchi said...

Jesus, I can't wait for the New Zealand version. It'd be so low rent.

Oh, and Sean Capone's meta-conceptual comment is right on the money, if you'll excuse the pun.

4/27/2009 05:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

8) Chicano ex-gang graffiti artist/skateboarder
9) Girl with heavy cosplay styling whose work draws slavishly from anime
10) Grunting, pimply figure-drawing geek mostly into comics
11) Rail-thin, overdressed trust-fund brat who gets around her lack of talent by drawing in markers on gauze and talking it up like a champ

Hell, I should work for this show...

4/27/2009 05:33:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Ed, how was your vacation?
Merveilleux! Merci!

4/27/2009 05:37:00 PM  
Anonymous untitled said...

sean- funny list! lol.

to earlier posters: good idea to make the bravo show into your work, but that would mean that the casting staff would have to bring in intelligent artists. why would they do that? They'll be looking for people to fill those stereotypes. My guess is there will be a lot of neo-expressionist garbage. there will also be a lot of talk about the business and glamor of the new york art world (as though there are no other art worlds)and there will be a lot of ugliness to be sure.
but it'll be stupid giddy fun and will have no effect on the publics perception of the artworld. it'll just reaffirm sterotypes.

4/27/2009 05:38:00 PM  
Blogger C. L. DeMedeiros said...

oh my... so many juice news today,
make me feel dream high.
dream a little dream is never bad


4/27/2009 06:49:00 PM  
Blogger C. L. DeMedeiros said...

Comments in this post: priceless!

4/27/2009 06:52:00 PM  
Blogger Mark Creegan said...

Call me crazy, but I think I want to see the stereotypes ( those lists!) on these shows. It satisfies some weird irreverent side of me i guess. Dont get me wrong, part of me would much prefer the "Inside the Actor's Studio" approach, but I think I get that already in all the podcasts, blogs, books and magazines I read. Plus I like that description of "American Artist" (artists will have to adapt quickly to changes in order to succeed). I think to see what I do all the time lampooned would be a wonderful thing.

4/28/2009 02:43:00 AM  
Blogger Tom Hering said...

Edward said, "The idea that the sort of developed-for-drama challenges that make for good reality TV will also lead to good art seems unlikely ..."

I agree. I also found myself wondering this morning if fine art and fine artists will make for good reality TV. Is the creation of fine art a compelling process to watch? (I know that watching me create would be like watching grass grow.) Do the motives and struggles of fine artists really fit into the "achieve your dream of success" format of these shows? Will the judging of artists' efforts really keep an audience on the edge of their seats?

4/28/2009 09:36:00 AM  
Anonymous Oriane Stender said...

"(I know that watching me create would be like watching grass grow.)"

I've had a couple of residencies which included allowing the public to watch me at work. They never believe me when I tell them how boring that would be. They actually want you to put on a little show of the high points, the most photogenic points, even though they claim that they want to see the real thing, the "artistic process." Many non-artists really are mystified by the process and think that you are hit by a lightning bolt (inspiration!) which then sends you into a frenzy of creation, and after about 20 minutes of whirlwind activity, you step back to behold, voila, a Masterpiece!

Yeah, that's how it is. Just like putting on a big Busby Berkeley style musical is done by a bunch of spunky kids who get together ("hey! we can use my dad's barn to rehearse!") and use their elbow grease and determination to conquer the theater world.

4/28/2009 11:06:00 AM  
Blogger Donna Dodson said...

I work with a chainsaw- perhaps that would be entertaining but then again it can take a few weeks for me to make a piece, so at that pace, it would not be very exciting w/o time lapse photography.

I also like the idea of a show that made fun of real artist while deconstructing some of the mythologies and stereotypes of our profession inclusding dealers, curators, assistants and collectors.

4/28/2009 08:30:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

Many non-artists really are mystified by the process and think that you are hit by a lightning bolt (inspiration!) which then sends you into a frenzy of creation, and after about 20 minutes of whirlwind activity, you step back to behold, voila, a Masterpiece!Well, that's how Picasso did it.

4/28/2009 08:54:00 PM  
Blogger Tom Hering said...

George said, "Well, that's how Picasso did it."

Only if you watch Clouzot's film of Picasso at work. If you study Picasso's sketchbooks, you find an artist who really worked things out before putting brush to canvas - at least in the case of paintings that were meant to be important. Regardless, the producers of the "reality" shows are going to pressure the competing artists to perform like the Picasso of Clouzot's film, which makes it even less likely good art will result.

4/28/2009 09:58:00 PM  
Blogger Jay Erker said...

I'm a contemporary artist and a big fan of PR. I've always thought that an artist's reality show would be interesting for all the reasons mentioned above. But I have to say...I do have hesitations but at the same time...I totally would try out for it. No one else would want to? Looks like fun and an opportunity to upset the stereotypes and make (some kind of) an effect on the populace at large.

4/28/2009 10:33:00 PM  
Blogger Jay Erker said...

From the Bravo Website:

American Artist

If you are interested in being considered for the show, please email Include a recent photo, your name, and a phone number and email address to contact you. You will be contacted once active casting begins.

4/28/2009 11:29:00 PM  
Blogger Tom Hering said...

RANDY: "Yo dog! That was hot! Your video kind of went over the top, for me, when you started cutting yourself to get off. That was really weird, bro. But it's still the best masturbation performance we've had on this show. Keep it up, my man! [Audience giggles.] It's a big yes from me. Paula?"

PAULA: "I agree with Randy. Your performance moved me. Deeply. When I watched the emotion on your face, and saw the blood all over your body, I knew it was from your heart. It's a big yes from me, too."

SIMON: "I can't agree with Paula and Randy. [Audience groans.] When I look at your thick-rimmed glasses, and the odd mix of colors in the clothing you're wearing now, I know you're serious about being an artist. But I just don't feel you truly want to win this competition. [Audience groans again.] My advice is to take it to the next level, and castrate yourself. It's a no from me."

RYAN: "Simon, are you asking him to produce hack work?" [Audience laughs.]

4/29/2009 10:03:00 AM  
Anonymous Charles Blount said...

It does seem like fun, Jay.

4/29/2009 10:28:00 AM  
Blogger Brandon Juhasz said...

"...Send a photo"

I would love to interpret how I think they want an artist to look....

4/29/2009 10:50:00 AM  
Blogger Jay Erker said...

Tom: LMAO. That would be great. Crits are a bit like that anyway.

4/29/2009 01:03:00 PM  
Blogger tony said...

The reality show about real artists making real art looks like a downer to me; unless the use of instant drying paint is obligatory for the painters. No, I was thinking maybe 'Hooker of the Year' would make more interesting TV. After all the general public has only a very limited knowlege of 24hrs. in the life of a streetwalker & no doubt, since these poor lassies are already being exploited by their pimps and clients, exploitation by a TV company may come as a welcome change.

4/29/2009 03:02:00 PM  
Blogger sarah said...

Regarding what an art reality show would do to a contestant's credibility: If a serious and gifted artist participates, isn't he/she still a good artist after it's over? If you saw strong cohesive work being produced on the show, would you trust your eyes, or would your distaste for the show override your judgement?

4/30/2009 12:45:00 PM  
Blogger Tom Hering said...

My distaste for the show (if it turns out I don't like it) won't override my judgment. The question for me is, can strong cohesive work be made on the show - given the time constraints of television production, and the pressure on all concerned to be entertaining?

4/30/2009 01:42:00 PM  
Blogger Tom Hering said...

Contestant Matt Giraud was sent home on American Idol this week, after his performance of "My Funny Valentine" - a performance Simon praised highly. The following Q&A from an interview with Matt just appeared on the MTV site within the last hour, and sheds some light on competitive reality shows. (The interview can easily be found by searching Google News.)

Q. What do you think the voters are looking for at this point in the competition?

A. At this point, it's more popularity than talent. We all know that. Everyone in the top five is talented, though, but someone's gotta go home every week. It's just whoever can rub America the right way, I guess.

The experience on American Artist won't be much different. When the twelve competitors are reduced to the final three, there won't be much (if any) difference in talent, or in quality of work. It will just be a matter of who rubs the panel of judges the right way.

4/30/2009 03:47:00 PM  
Anonymous untitled said...

again, some real insightful and thought-provoking discussion here. but reality shows run on their own logic and that will apply regardless of subject matter.

does anyone know when this show will begin production or if there's been word as to when it might air?

also, there's an infamous 60 minutes segment from the early 90's I think that attacked contemporary art. Does anyone know if that can be accessed?

4/30/2009 04:47:00 PM  
Blogger ART CHANNEL said...

yes, and also why not broadcasting in Europe on ART CHANNEL :

5/06/2009 10:24:00 AM  

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