My husband describes the whole experience best! In his words:
We found out about a “contemporary art reality show” on Friday morning. I looked up the show online, and researched all I could find. The criteria listed included a solid body of art work, an excellent portfolio, and a piece of art to show the judges. It sounded like a cool idea, and Jen said, “Let’s do it!” I found some really cheap last minute flights to LA, and we made our plans.
We spent the rest of Friday getting everything updated and ready for the trip. Jen finished up a 24x24 aspen piece specifically for the judges, filled out a 23 page application full of every intimate detail you could imagine, and then updated her portfolio into the night. After crashing at 2 am, we got up 90 minutes later, got packed, and caught our 5 am flight to LA (via SFO). We made it to LA at around 9:30 am, and Jennifer finished getting ready in the Car Rental bathroom. We were exhausted, but we really wanted to take a shot at this!
The line at the casting call was around the block, out in the blistering sun. You should have seen the people in line with us, with their tats, piercings, hair color… we felt very confident in our professional appearance. There were about 200 people in front of us, and by noon we had only moved a few feet. Luckily Jen had a water bottle from the layover in SF, and rationed this as we waited. 2 pm came, and we still were not around the last corner. An ice cream man saved us with popsicles and drumsticks. Finally, at 4:30 pm, we talked to the first casting people. They reviewed and took our packet, gave Jen a number, and took some photographs/mug shots.
From here on out we had to sign NDA’s and agree to not talk about the "super secret" casting procedure. I wondered why. Well, I found out it was because everything that happened next was completely unprofessional! We started seeing people come out of the judges room, just like on American Idol – some were crying, some were pissed, some were smiling and laughing. But the ones that came out of the room with the "golden tickets", this is what we couldn’t believe – these lucky artists that received their acceptance letters were all the freak shows! We literally couldn’t believe our eyes!!
You had to see it to believe just how crazy some of these people were. One was a lady with a brown blow-up doll that had random newspaper and stuff taped to it! Another had hundreds of receipts hole punched and threaded with red yarn, draped all over her. Some had so many tattoos and piercing that you couldn’t even recognize them. And their art? It was all conceptual garbage that is only art for the sake of art. I like to call this "IOU Art" because you don't get anything from it, and they still owe you something if they want to call it art. They were a bunch a fakers trying to make a statement, trying to be artsy. These people really give art a bad name. I looked at Jen and we both new this wasn’t’ going to end well, if this is what they were accepting into the next round.
We ended the long day with the portfolio examiner (a young punk with hiked up capris, suspenders, striped socks, the works). He told Jen it was very late and he only had a few seconds. He briskly thumbed through her portfolio, but didn’t even look down at it. He asked if she was in any galleries, and if she did commissioned work. He was abrupt and very impersonal, and Jen sensed that he had already made up his mind before she even spoke. We had invested two days to traveling, waiting in the sun, and this is all they had to offer!? Unbelievable! A few minutes later, her number was called, and she was informed that she was not selected for this season.
I was shocked to see her come out of the first room, not even making it into the final waiting room to see the judges. Only a few under qualified staff members had spoken to her, and that was it. She looked conservative and professional, and it was quite obvious that she was not what they were looking for! They weren’t out to find successful artists. They did not want any fine art at all. They only wanted the shock value art and artists that would make good TV. It’s a shame that artists are portrayed as strange and freakish, because although there are many freaks in the art world, there are also successful professionals creating exceptional fine art.
We did learn something important from this experience – why try to fix/change something that is working fine!? We are doing fine marketing and creating our brand by ourselves. We don’t need a TV show to be successful!
Welp, he really summed up the whole experience well! It's just frustrating to me that a reality show is going to help perpetuate the myth that artists are all a bunch of crazies! Quite frankly, the most successful artists I know aren't sporting tattoos and pink hair! They look like ordinary people. The artist freak shows are really just a stereo-type.
But, I must admit the whole thing was quite the bonding experience for Matt and I. What a trooper the man was! He didn't complain once about having to stand in line under the hot sun for 6 hours! He even held a card board box over my head to give me shade, while his own shaved head burned. Now that is true love! In everything, Matt is my partner 100%. He always accompanies me on my hair-brained adventures. We do have a lot of fun together. While we were standing in line for all of those hours, we got to know fellow artist, Michael Phillips, pretty well. What an outstanding human being he is! And no, he didn't get a 'golden ticket' either. He is an oil painter. Not what they're looking for, apparently.
The next day we went to Laguna Beach and visited Michael at the "Sawdust Art Festival" where he was exhibiting his work. It was a fantastic art show, and we thoroughly enjoyed seeing Michael and getting a private tour of his home and art studio. It's true...the one stereo type that does work for us artists--is that we're messy! His studio looks just like mine! And that's because we truly are working artists! :)
After the Sawdust Festival, we went to two other Art Shows! I was in heaven. I like nothing better than looking at art all day! Matt and I even bought a painting from co-artists Betty Haight/ Stephanie Cunningham. The two artists work collaboratively on their pieces. One makes the frame out of "found" wood and paints figurative scenes, while the other creates abstract landscapes. They put the canvases together to form one unified piece. The result is pretty cool! When I saw some little black and white checkers on one with a splash of red...I knew it had to be mine! So we bought it.
After touring all the Art Shows, and some Art Galleries, we stopped by my Laguna Beach Gallery--"Sherwood Gallery," to see if they could use my 24 x 24 Aspen piece I had brought for the Casting Call. I usually paint so big, I knew the owner, Donna Gourley would perhaps appreciate something a little smaller. I was right! Donna thought it would be perfect hanging up with my "Silver Aspens" piece I sent them a few weeks ago. Before we left, Donna and her Mother, Gianni, told us we had to see the "Pageant of the Masters" show that evening. We'd be in for a treat if we did! We promised we would, and left right away to buy tickets.
After eating dinner at the "Beach House"--a fantastic little restaurant overlooking the ocean, we took a trolley back to "Festival of Arts" to see the Pageant. For 75 years, the Pageant has been Laguna Beach's premier attraction! Audiences pack the Irvine Bowl, an outdoor amphitheater, to watch people posing to look exactly like their counterparts in recreations of original art pieces. Over the intriguing 90-minute performance, 20 different art works go on display accompanied by a professional orchestra playing an original score. The performance was breathtaking! It was truly a treat as an artist to see the paintings of the Masters come to life on stage. Thank you Donna and Gianni for telling us about it!
And thus ended our whirlwind weekend! What an adventure! :)
Labels: Bravo Reality T.V. Show, Casting Call, Festival of Arts, Laguna Beach, Pageant of the Masters, Sawdust Festival, Sherwood Gallery