Photos by G (except where noted). Art by Mark Kostabi.
I wrapped up “Kostabi Week” by attending a taping of “The Kostabi Show” on May 20, 2011. If you’ll recall, I met artist Mark Kostabi for the first time earlier this week. I had a really great encounter meeting him. I was subsequently invited to Kostabi World the next night to watch Kostabi’s band perform an intimate warm up gig for a show at Iridium Jazz Club on May 26, 2011. It was a night so fantastic, it literally defines the reason I live in New York. Of course you should quit when you are ahead when it comes to these things, but I think by now, you’ve figured out that I have a very serious addiction – to having fun! Upon the personal invitation from Mark to attend a taping of his cable TV program, “The Kostabi Show,” there was no way I’d miss it!
Once again, from the second you set foot in Kostabi World, you instantly feel welcome and you immediately go into sensory overload as there are works from Kostabi everywhere! Towards the back of the very large studio space is the set where “The Kostabi Show” is filmed. If you’ve never seen it before, the format is simple: Mark Kostabi is the host and he shows his latest untitled works to 3 panelists. They each come up with titles for the works and the audience votes on the best title. The winner gets a cash prize. In between segments, the audience is treated to a live performance by Kostabi’s band (featuring Mark on piano). The show wraps up with Mark Kostabi giving away a stack of dollar bills to the audience which are blown into the air by a fan in the shape of a cash register (see green paddle below), a motif that reoccurs in Kostabi’s work. Whoever can grab that dough gets to take it home with them.
As Mark Kostabi introduces the paintings, you get an insight into his influences and a lesson in art history from a man who is both an encyclopedia of art knowledge as well as experience. With all the banal TV shows that are being produced these days, it makes no sense why a major network wouldn’t pick up this show. Of course, we know the answer – this is not a zero sum game situation because nobody wins at someone else’s expense. I can also see how people would be put off by allowing the public to watch and vote on the creative process, but that in itself is a work of art! Mark seems truly happy to share his love, knowledge and experiences of art with others that appreciate it too. It’s clear that he doesn’t take himself too seriously, a quality that I find is not too common in the very uptight and often pretentious-for-no-reason art world. Watching one of the most creative people on the planet doing what he does best is mind-blowing. Kostabi knows what he wants, but he is respectful to others who assist in helping him achieve his goals and Kostabi World operates like a well oiled machine.
After the taping, we were invited to hang out and enjoy complimentary pizza and refreshments. Mark Kostabi once again was extremely approachable, talking to fans and signing autographs. Coming from a person who has encountered thousands of celebrities, artists and rock stars in my life time, Mark Kostabi ranks towards the top of the list of the coolest people I’ve had the pleasure of being around. Because I’ve spent a lot of time with so many famous people, I feel I am a pretty good judge of spotting phonies and with every fiber of my being, I think Mark Kostabi is the real deal! I am so fortunate to have had the chance to tell him that I would definitely be experiencing “Kostabi World withdrawal” and he invited me to keep in touch so that I can get a fix whenever I want one! Thanks again Mark. What an inspiration! I will be back! You can watch episodes of “The Kostabi Show” on their official website. Alternately, the show runs on TV every Wednesday night at 8:30 in Manhattan on Time Warner Cable on Channel 56, or on RCN on Channel 108. It also airs on MNN’s website every Wednesday night at 8:30 (New York time) at www.mnn.org, Channel 56.