Downtown gallerist Jeffrey Deitch has made a career of making contemporary art accessible -- at times almost theme-park-ish. Recently, his Deitch Projects spaces have hosted spectacles as diverse as the Citizens Band's cabaret act (with Hollywood honeys like Maggie Gyllenhaal and Zooey Deschanel on the mike) and "One More Thing," an installation by West Coast artist Barry McGee, which included animatronic graffiti artists and a pile of tagged vans and a crashed car. But only so many people can view a gallery show during the day. So, in an effort to spread the word, Deitch (pictured above, middle) is bringing his artists to television. Artstar is a reality-TV show -- part Project Runway, part American Idol -- in which a slew of artists compete for a spot on the gallerist's team of eight (pictured above); that team then collaborates on a final project. The usual drama, personality clashes and temperamental judges are involved. Art critic David Rimanelli in particular makes Simon Cowell look like a Care Bear. "For many people, what goes on at a gallery is a mystery," Deitch says. "This is an attempt to show what goes on behind the scenes."
The show will premiere at 9 p.m. on June 1 on Gallery HD, a high-definition channel available on the Dish Network. Those without satellite TV will just have to visit the gallery. Bec Stupak (aka Honeygun Labs), one of the contestants, has already shown there, and Deitch says he's planning to exhibit work by another contestant, Abigail DeVille, soon. As for any thoughts of television devaluing the cultural and monetary value of the art, the gallerist disagrees. "The generation of artists since the '80s boom really understood that communication of their art was very important," he says. "Part of that communication incorporates an artist's image. This is one medium that works well to communicate that image. But there are many different mediums, and we focus on artists who cross disciplines. We're all about an expanded view of art. Whether you're a musician, dancer, painter, journalist -- there are many more platforms to work as an artist today."