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The Chicago contestants of Bravo's 'Work of Art'

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It's been said that a great artist is either ahead of his time or behind it. Now Bravo will find out how artists fare in primetime with "Work of Art," which will be on display Wednesday night at 10.

Sarah Jessica Parker is producing (and occasionally appearing on) the "Project Runway"-like competition, with the winner earning a show at the Brooklyn Museum and $100,000.

The 14 artists work in a variety of media - painting, sculpture, performance art - but at least five of them have something in common: ties to Chicago. Here's who to watch for:

Erik Johnson, 31, a filmmaker-turned-painter from Homer Glen

"Art is already judged so competitively that a reality show is probably the only way someone like me can get my work in front of people," says Johnson, who has the least training on the show. "I've always felt that in the elitist art world clique, it's very difficult to get people to notice your work while their noses are turned up. The producers of 'Work of Art' were the first people to acknowledge me as an artist."

Notable work: He debuted his short film "The Ghost of Christmas Presents" at 2006's Cannes Film Festival.

Amanda Williams, 35, an adjunct professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology.

"I'm heavily influenced by the colors and textures that are the fabric of the South Side neighborhoods I frequented as a kid," says Williams, an abstract painter and former architect. "Auburn-Gresham, Englewood, Hyde Park, South Shore. Those cultural and urban landscapes are in my DNA."

Least favorite art form: "Bronze casting is no cup of tea."

John Parot, 40, a DeKalb High grad with a show at Chicago's Western Exhibitions gallery

"In the past, I've always made artwork that speaks to me, that excites me and that I'm satisfied with," says Parot, who focuses on painting and drawing. "In the moment of competing you're not really thinking of winning, you're thinking of finishing the task to the level of your standards."

Most unique canvas: The rooftop of a Mini Cooper that was auctioned off for charity.

Ryan Shultz, 27, a Northwestern grad from Libertyville

"Since Chicago is a breeding ground for alcoholism, depression, isolation, and depravity, it would only follow that I would make work which deals with these subjects," says Shultz, a painter who has shown his work in more than 60 juried shows.

Influences: "I was once told that my work was the illegitimate child of Rembrandt and Nan Goldin."

Jaime Lynn Henderson, 25, now in residency at the Merchandise Mart

"My work is extremely flat," says Henderson, who was named "Best New Artist Working on Paper" at the 2009 Around the Coyote exhibit. "I love IMPLYING space instead of actually creating it. It's the same reason why I love kindergarten stage productions so much: all those flat cardboard props lined up across the stage...There is something playful about 2D for me. 3D feels too grown up.

Favorite artists: John Singer Sargent, Frida Kahlo, Hieronymous Bosch . . . "But probably my dog, William, influences me more than all of them."

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This page contains a single entry by Paige Wiser published on June 9, 2010 4:26 AM.

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