Work of Art's Miles Mendenhall's Half Gallery Opening

Elizabeth Thompson // Photographed by Caroline Torem Craig

"I didn't expect this many people to be here, it's a little overwhelming," said Bravo's Work of Art finalist Miles Mendenhall last night at his show at Half Gallery on the Lower East Side. Half Gallery owner and Work of Art judge Bill Powers was in attendance, as were Mendenhall's fellow Work of Art contestants Jaclyn Santos and Judith Braun. Mendenhall, who was second runner-up to Peregrine Honig and winner Abdi Farah, emerged as one of this season's strongest artists. Though frequently favored by judges, Mendenhall was attacked on blog recaps as self-important and egotistical. Mendenhall, who was frequently shown napping as other artists scurried to get their work done during timed challenges, as well as offering unsolicited criticism during his peers' critiques, was referred to as an "emo-hipster backstabber" in a Los Angeles Times recap of the show.

 "I think I've mostly just been responding to the goofiness of this all," Mendenhall said of dealing with the reactions to his portrayal on the show, which he says was performative. "It's been something that I've been excited to play around with. It's kind of a big game to me -- and that's why I wanted to do this show, to have a persona stitched together for you." Of a recent New York Times piece, which called Farah's current show at the Brooklyn Museum a "not very satisfying results of Warhol's grand experiment in art stardom," Mendenhall said, "I think that's a natural reaction to a [television] show like this." The artist, however, said that under Work of Art's timed challenges and slick production, the show is compelling because it allows viewers to experience art through a form of highly publicized media.  "I can't think of anything more horrendously interesting," he said.  

Mendenhall says he has a series of shows coming up in Minneapolis, where he lives, and has plans to do some work in New Mexico as well. His self-titled show is up at Half Gallery, 208 Forsyth St., through September 14.

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