Abdi’s big upset and other random notes on Bravo’s ‘Work of Art’


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There were a few genuine surprises on the season finale of Bravo’s reality series ‘Work of Art.’ Host China Chow did not dress like a parade float, executive producer Sarah Jessica Parker put in an appearance and the heavy favorite Miles lost in the final reckoning.

To conclude the series’ first season, the remaining three contestants had to each create their own gallery show using themes of their own choosing. Peregrine -- the funky art chick who was raised on a commune -- decided to go with a county-fair motif and went heavy on colorful clay sculptures, ponies and a cotton candy machine.


Abdi -- the affable art teacher from Pennsylvania -- created a series of unconventional self-portraits that included two large-scale sculptures, paintings and drawings. Meanwhile, bed-headed Miles, who had dominated the competition throughout the season, took inspiration from a chance photographic encounter at a local White Castle to create abstract digital portraits.

The judges, including photographer David LaChapelle, found a lot to like in each show. The attendees for the opening included the eliminated contestants from earlier in the season as well as an enthusiastic Parker, who seemed to be channeling Carrie Bradshaw on a shopping spree.

In the end, Abdi was crowned the surprise winner for the season, bringing Miles’ victory streak to an abrupt conclusion. The judges eliminated Miles first, saying that his project felt too much like a work in progress. Peregrine’s show was faulted for its excess and unruly aesthetic.

Now that the season is over, it’s high time that the show itself receives an evaluation. Here is an assortment of random notes and thoughts about the series, in no particular order of importance.

Simon de Pury, auction house executive and mentor: Your accent was the best part of the show.

Peregine, contestant: Your Donnie Darko hat was the second best part of the show.

China Chow, host: Are those your clothes, or does Bravo have a humongous costume budget?

Erik, contestant: Your temper tantrums were sorely missed. We hope you took solace in Miles’ defeat.

Jaclyn, contestant: Your winning photographic collage from the Audi episode was impressive. But perhaps you should have acknowledged its debt to artist John Baldessari?


Miles, contestant: A lot of viewers think you are a jerk. Are you? Also, buy a comb.

Abdi, contestant: So you won, congratulations. But can you explain your winning gallery show, because we still don’t know what to make of it.

Jerry Saltz, judge: We think you have the potential to become the show’s equivalent of Simon Cowell. Be meaner, ruder and more arrogant next time.

Bravo, the cable network: Is it true that you won’t let Jaclyn speak to the press? What’s that about? Got something to hide?

Producers: Why were so many of the challenges so lame?

Ryan, contestant: You are more authentically hip than Miles will ever be.

Viewers out there: Would any of you actually buy the works of art created on the show? Or is reality TV too déclassé for the serious collector?

Miles, contestant: We admit that we said some not-so-nice things about you this season. For what it’s worth, we think you have talent and that you are definitely going places. But really, buy a comb.

Producers: Guest judge -- Lady Gaga. Think it over.

Bravo: Why not shoot Season 2 -- if there will be a Season 2 -- in Los Angeles? We’ve got Jeffrey Deitch, in case Simon de Pury is too busy to return.


-- David Ng

Photo (top): Miles, Abdi and Peregrine. Credit: Bravo

Photo (bottom): Simon de Pury and Sarah Jessica Parker. Credit: Bravo


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