I did not expect the following sequence of reality TV events:
- Work of Art’s format
- being resurrected
- by MTV (!)
- and the Smithsonian Hirschhorn Museum (!!)
- in a show that will air in the post-RuPaul’s Drag Race timeslot that’s now being desecrated by the bleak Real Friends of WeHo
But that is exactly what’s happening with The Exhibit: Finding the Next Great Artist.
Yes, an art competition will be on MTV, the network that—prior to Drag Race’s arrival—offered reality TV competition in the form of misogyny, steroids, and head wounds.
The Exhibit will also air on Smithsonian Channel, which, like MTV, is owned by Paramount Global, and perhaps it was originally developed for Smithsonian alone, and was moved when someone finally realized they couldn’t just win over the gays by attaching absolute garbage to their marquee show. Or, to be less cynical, maybe executives loved the show so much they decided it needed a bigger platform.
Oh, and I’m burying the lead: After premiering The Exhibit: Finding The Next Great Artist on March 3 at 9 p.m., MTV will undo its dumbest recent decision and return Untucked to its post-Drag Race timeslot and air The Exhibit at 10.
That means Drag Race returns to 90-minute episodes starting with episode 11 on March 10. I certainly don’t think every episode of Drag Race needs 90 minutes, but hacking down the season with the most queens ever to 42 minutes has been a mess. (I’ll try not to think about how, once it gets to episode 11, Drag Race may not need those longer episodes in the way it does now.)
What The Exhibit: Finding the Next Great Artist shares with Work of Art
The first thing I thought about upon seeing this new show’s title, The Exhibit: Finding The Next Great Artist, was Bravo’s Work of Art, a two-season show with the full title of Work of Art: The Next Great Artist whose subtitle is now being remixed by MTV/Smithsonian/Paramount.
Work of Art’s two seasons aired in 2010 and 2011, and introduced us to quite a few great artists, though I can only recall one name: The Sucklord.
Hosted by China Chow, the Bravo show was judged by art critic Jerry Saltz, Bill Powers, and Jeanne Greenberg Rohaytn, with Simon de Pury serving in the Tim Gunn mentor role. While it had creative challenges and unexpected approaches to those challenges, it did suffer from awkward judging, mostly because art is especially subjective.
Alas, neither season of this terrifically entertaining show is streaming (put it on Peacock!), but both seasons are available for purchase, and I’d say they’re absolutely worth the $10 and $15.
MTV and Smithsonian Channel’s version, The Exhibit: Finding The Next Great Artist, will have seven artists competing for $100,000 and an exhibit at the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C.
MTV says there will be “weekly competitions centered around the hot-button issues of our time, leading to a grand finale at the Hirshhorn Ball, the museum’s annual gala, where the winning artist will be chosen.
The Exhibit’s artist contestants and judges
MTV News’s Dometi Pongo will host, and the Hirschorn’s director, Melissa Chiu, will be the show’s lead judge.
Guest judges include Abigail DeVille, JiaJia Fei, Samuel Hoi, Adam Pendleton, Keith Rivers, Kenny Schachter, and Sarah Thornton.
There are just seven cast members for a six-episode series, and, alas, no one named Sucklord. Here they are, with their MTV-provided bios:
Jamaal Barber, Atlanta
An artist, printmaker, and educator whose mixed media practice examines the ways in which social issues, culture, and identity can overlap with Blackness. Barber is currently a visiting lecturer at the Ernest G. Welch School of Art & Design in Atlanta, GA.
Frank Buffalo Hyde, Minneapolis
An Onondaga/Niimíipuu (Nez Perce) artist whose paintings examine and elevate an image of contemporary Indigenous life through a vibrant pop-sensibility and uncompromising satirical eye. Hyde lives and works in Northfield, MN.
Baseera Khan, Brooklyn
A New York-based performance, sculpture, and installation artist whose work explores materials and their economies, and the effects of these relationships upon labor, family structures, religion, and spiritual well-being.
Misha Kahn, New York City
A New York-based artist and designer who works at the intersection of design and sculpture and is best known for creating whimsical and playful objects made through a variety of materials and array of processes.
Clare Kambhu, Queens
An artist and arts educator in New York City that creates paintings that draw attention to everyday, often overlooked objects, with a recent focus on how these items might reveal the potential for humanity to break the constraints of educational institutions.
Jillian Mayer, Miami
Working across video, sculpture, photography, performance, web-based experiences, and installation, Mayer is a Miami-based artist whose practice explores the intersection of technology and human existence, particularly how our participation in a digital landscape reshapes our physical experiences.
Jennifer Warren, Chicago
A Chicago-based oil painter whose work explores themes around nature, beauty, and the Black body. Largely self-taught, Warren’s practice reflects her passion for incorporating new ideas and techniques that aim to convey the lived Black experience through everyday intimate and meditative moments.
Friday 10th of February 2023
Was that you who quoted "we don't need 90 minutes of drag" ..... Uh, yes we do. Don't rain on our parade. If you still don't get it by now, you won't ever
Friday 10th of February 2023
I didn't quote anyone, but I have written/said that I don't think every episode needs 90 minutes; plenty of episodes in past seasons have felt padded.
But as I wrote here, cutting down episodes to 42 minutes also is not working this season, because there are so many queens and too much content for just 42 minutes.
Friday 10th of February 2023
Great news on everything. Just a note both seasons, with full episodes, of Work of Art: The Next Great Artist are easily found on YouTube.