Could it be that only a few days after the premiere of Bravo's new at-world reality television show Work of Art the rubric for appreciating fine art has been recalibrated so completely that the value of works can only be gauged in that gladiator arena of competitive art-making? Probably not. But it is the case that, as of Wednesday, the “Keds Works on Canvas Contest” has been accepting submissions from M.F.A. students across the country who wish to compete for a chance to have their work displayed in the windows of New York City’s Bloomingdale’s department store.
A panel of three judges — Adam D. Weinberg, director of the Whitney Museum of American Art; Jack Hruska, executive vice president of creative services at Bloomingdale’s; and Kristen Burrows, president of Keds — will select three graduate-student artists based on a set of criteria — some conventional, and some quite strange. For instance, while 20 percent of the decision will be based on originality, 30 percent on artistic style, and 30 percent on creativity, another 10 percent will be awarded for “relevance to the Keds and Bloomingdale’s brands,” with a final 10 percent allotted for displaying a most ambiguous quality: “American Spirit.”
Keds, which is also the sponsor for the Whitney’s summer concert series, has been making sneakers since 1916 — sneakers that achieved icon-status in the 1960s along with the stars who modeled them, like Audrey Hepburn, Greta Garbo, and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Perhaps, then, the three artists who will be in Bloomingdale’s windows from July 8–21 (physically on display in what Keds is calling “a live-action exhibition” as they install their canvas-based works) can derive inspiration from similar muses as their Pop-art predecessors — or at least from those muses’ feet.