OK, I started my GAYLETTER day at 9:00AM yesterday with an intense curbside meeting with Abi over a delicious cup of hot coffee served by an even hotter barista, now I’m ending the work day at 10pm after a fierce photoshoot by the Christopher St. piers on the West Side Highway at a bar called The Rusty Knot (with $4 beers all night long). Being one of the most preeminent cultural correspondents for GAYLETTER can be exhausting! So, on to another post about a must-see gallery exhibition (we wrote about the opening a while back) at Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art called Interface: Artist Forming Communities Through Social Media. It’s closing August 2nd so this is your last week to see it. Some of our absolute favorite artists are in the show including Jordan Eagles, Natasha Gornik, Brian Kenny, Scooter LaForge, Slava Mogutin and of course Mr. Gio Black Peter. “This exhibition emblematizes a shifting time in the art world where technology allows artists to not only create in a different way, but also alters the way the public encounters them and their art.” Walt Cessna did a brilliant job curating the show. Before you pass out from this heat go go go to this show.
OK, this guy Burk Uzzle has a crazy amazing eye. His hot show now at Stephen Kasher gallery titled American Puzzles is sublime. The exhibition, up until July 31st, features over 70 vintage black and white photographs of the American social landscape from the 1960’s through the 2000’s. Do you know the brilliant work of American photographer Robert Frank? He took the photographs in the classic book ‘The Americans’ dealing with similar subject matter, well Burk, in my humble, yet professional photographer, opinion blows Frank’s work out of the water. As Burk notes, “These photographs are an appreciation of America. Their structure, like that of America itself evokes a melody of movement and collage — not an explanation.” I love that.
He started taking photographs at age 14 and by 23 became the youngest photographer ever to be hired by Life Magazine. Yes, he has work hanging at the Met, MoMA, and all over the world for that matter, but now you have the opportunity to see his work in Chelsea for free.
All images below courtesy of Steven Kasher Gallery, NYC:
Summer is upon us which means that in the fine art world the gallerists are closing up for August and heading to the Hamptons, the South of France or (if they are super pretentious like this dude I recently matched with on Tinder, St. Barths.) Before everything shuts down there is a rare gem of a show by a major figure in the evolution of the Delta style of blues music, who also happens to be a MAJOR visionary sculptor. His name is James ‘Son Ford’ Thomas and his show, titled, “The Devil and His Blues” and is now up at 80WSE gallery through August 7th. Thomas got his “training” in Mississippi during his formative years by frequenting rural house parties called juke joints where all kinds of highly spirited madness went down including blues singing, dancing, gambling and drinking. What put Thomas on the map in later years, and earned him some coins before his music achieved worldwide acceptance, were his un-fired clay bust portraits often utilizing real teeth, dentures, found eyewear and wigs — they are genius. He did get into some other subject matter as well, “His birds, snakes, squirrels and fish are all representative of Delta wildlife in addition to holding symbolic significance in the African-American folk spirituality known as ‘hoodoo.’” There are 100 of these sculptures on view in addition to two brief, yet penetrating, documentaries about Thomas and his environs; a black and white film made in 1969, “Leland Mississippi,” and another film in color shot during the seminal exhibition in 1982 called Black Folk Art in America where Thomas was a major presence. This is a remarkable a chance to celebrate the extraordinary contribution African American artists have made to our culture, especially in the wake of all this hatred, racism, and church burnings going down of late.
I know, I KNOW, please no more Tom of Finland but I had to let you know about this exemplary talk going down at Artists Space this Thursday, July 16, at 7:00PM. It’s ironically titled “Drawing in a Straight Line” and will consider Tom of Finland’s influence upon and reception by artists as preeminent post-War gay icon. The moderator Bob Nickas will be joined by New York artists Collier Schorr, Nayland Blake and Carlos Motta — what a crowd. This cutting group of artists are so talented with divergent and overlapping socio-political elements to their work I imagine the chat will be quite deep and explosive. I never suggest this, but if you have a minute Google their names, space is limited.
“As queer art practice has been deconstructed through lines of multiplicity and intersectionality, so have historical understandings of power and deviation from dominant power, been complexified. For this reason the relationship between Tom of Finland’s work and contemporary artist’s practice remains important” Ok, now take a deep breath , I’m sure if you attend the talk that will make perfect sense to you by the end, let’s hope so, if not then just cruise your heart out!
$5 donation, members free, 7:00PM, Artist Space Books and Talks, 55 Walker St. NY, NY.
OK, these images famed book publisher Taschen just sent me by the legendary artist George Quaintance worked my last nerve. I know, I’ve been wearing that expression out (especially all over Fire Island of late) but when it fits, it fits. I am wholly embarrassed to say that I knew nothing of this artist until about twenty minutes ago. George was a true trailblazer making erotic blatantly homosexual themed works in the forties and early fifties. “George Quaintance lived and worked during an era when homosexuality was repressed, when his joyful paintings and physique photos could not depict a penis. In an era before Stonewall, the sexual revolution, gay rights and the AIDS crisis, Quaintance and his high camp erotic art existed in a demi-monde of borderline legality.”
I mean this George had balls, literally and figuratively, creating this hot and horny kind of imagery way back in the day. His show titled “The Flamboyant Life and Forbidden Art of George Quaintance“ opening July 3, at the TASCHEN gallery in LA is, if you can believe it, the first public show of his works-ever! He only made 55 oil paintings in his lifetime that spanned the years 1902-1957 and until recently were only traded amongst a very private select few. In addition to George’s work the show is rounded out with pieces by Tom of Finland , who George greatly influenced, as well as photographs by Bob Mizer. I almost need to get on a plane to see the works in person but as it’s the 4th of July and the show comes down the end of August I’m gonna stay on the east coast and try my best to get laid!
11:00AM-6:00PM, TASCHEN Gallery, 8070 Beverly Blvd. Los Angeles, CA.
Trust me, you need to know about the work of Tseng Kwong Chi. I’ll apologize up front for not inviting you to the opening of his exhibition, but hey, I didn’t know about it either. The Grey Art Gallery at NYU is hosting the first major museum retrospective of Tseng’s work: Performing For The Camera until July 11th. Sadly, Tseng died at the age of 39 from AIDS-related complications but not before he left a prolific, diverse and ground-breaking body of work. There are fascinating Polaroid photo montages, celebrity portraits of Basquiat, Warhol and Tseng’s intimate friend Keith Haring as well as 12 works from his classic series of selfies (before they were ever on the map) titled East Meets West, that evolved into the Expeditionary series and more. In many of these series Tseng chose to wear the somewhat drab, yet classic, Communist Mao suit with an ID attached to his jacket. He photographed parties as diverse as the Met Ball, and Republican political events and his work is included in the Met’s current exhibition “China Through The Looking Glass,” on view through August 16th.
I was not prepared to process how diverse and unquestionably visionary Tseng was — a revolutionary, fearlessly entering social, artistic and political environments (with a camera) the Chinese never gained access to prior. “In exaggerating his difference into an exotic mystique, Tseng found a way to infiltrate spaces typically closed to Asians and other minority groups.” Take some sun in Washington Square Park, sip a beer in a brown paper bag, cruise hot and horny NYU boys looking for guidance then check out the show.
Here’s a preview of the show:
All images are courtesy of Grey Art Gallery.
SUGGESTED $3, 11:00AM-6:00PM, Grey Art Gallery, NYU, 100 Washington Square E. NY, NY.
When I saw my first Tom of Finland image as a small, curious, yet closeted gay teen I was utterly flabbergasted. Never before had I seen such a bold and titillating expression of male sexuality that I think subconsciously influenced my taste in men. Born Touko Laaksonen in Finland in 1920 Tom of Finland I am told is considered to be the most iconic gay artist of the 20th century. Artists Space is having an opening for their new exhibition of Tom’s work with more than 180 drawings from the 1940’s and over 300 pages of collages and early childhood works. By now I’m sure you’ve seen one or two of his masterfully executed drawings with the focus on cock, cock, and more cock. “His emblematic larger-than-life drawn phalluses not only threaten the existing symbolic order of heterosexuality, but also reorganize the principles by which (homo-) sexual desires are structured.” Oh, ok, I just thought they made gay men hot. Of interesting note, Tom had his first gallery exhibition in New York, facilitated by the help of his friend Mr. Robert Mapplethorpe who he met in 1978 in San Francisco (that must have been an interesting evening). Please tell me you’re in town this weekend and your half share on Fire Island hasn’t started yet. I would love to see you at the opening to have a few beers and possibly sleep together. Mossy’s back!
FREE, 6:00-8:00PM, Artists Space, 38 Greene St. 3rd floor, NY, NY.
I HAD to tell you about this show before it comes down this Saturday. There are very few living legends left in the art world, therefore when one performs, exhibits or makes a public appearance it is imperative that you attend, especially if you live in the city where it’s going down. Painter Malcolm Morley is one such legend and his current exhibition of new works at Sperone Westwater is nothing short of spectacular. Yes, 84 this June 7th, Morley has been turning the art world on it’s head for over five decades, securing his place in art history early on in his career with the “highly colored Superrealist paintings of ocean liners and the luxurious but vacuous life of their passengers.” Actually one such canvas’ “On Deck,” painted in 1966, hangs in the permanent collection of modern works at The Metropolitan Museum. Returning to visual themes that have been pervasive in his works from the onset, the new exhibition is more vibrant and colorful than ever, and includes imagery of ships, airplanes, trains, lighthouses and impeccably crafted models attached to the canvas, or free standing, made entirely out of watercolor paper. Housed in an extraordinary Norman Foster designed building on the Bowery, Morley’s paintings may just prove to be the perfect antidote to this unusually grey and chilly weather we are having.
Even if you’re a fan of the present, most of us have a specific era of the past we wish we’d lived in. Often our notions of this era are shaped by an artist who was immersed in the spirit of the times, mingled with its eminent personalities, and somehow managed to bottle its zeitgeist through their paintings, prose, or performances. If you’ve ever thought your golden era was the 70s and 80s in New York City underground, photographer Paul Zone lived the life you wish you had.
As an adolescent, Zone was “that kid,” mobbing through the concrete jungle as boywonder sidekick to the drag queens, rockers, and junkies who defined the moment. Fortunately for us, he always brought his camera. The candid, intimate images he shot as a teenager of some of the most epic personalities of those wild decades are now being released in his new photographic memoir. The fierce folks at the Leslie Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, in association with veteran NYC arts impresarios Tony Zanetta and Kymara Lonergan, are launching the book with an exhibition at their Prince St. location (Prince Street Project Space,127-B Prince Street).
The memoir is called Playground, and the solo exhibition, called Growing Up In The New York Underground: From Glam to Punk features over 70 of Zone’s images of music icons including Debbie Harry, The Ramones, The New York Dolls, T. Rex and KISS, as well as the era’s most memorable artists and scenesters like Patti Smith, Arturo Vega, and James Chance.
The Opening Reception and Book Launch featuring DJ Miss Guy and Host Howie Pyro is May 29, from 6:00-9:00PM, and the exhibition stays on display through May 30th and 31st from 12:00-6:00PM. If you’re planning on picking up a copy, consider stopping by for an Author Talk and book signing on May 30th from 4:00-6:00PM.
This is art show is really a no-brainer for us as it’s curated by Walt Cessna and features pretty much all of our favorite artists. There’s Michael Bilsborough, Bubi Canal, Walt Cassidy, Jordan Eagles, Alesia, Exum, Benjamin Fredrickson, Leo Herrera, Brian Kenny, Naruki Kukita, Scooter LaForge, Brett Lindell, Slava Mogutin, Diego Montoya, Gio Black Peter and many more. The exhibition “is emblematic of a shifting time in the art world where technology allows artists to not only create in a different way, but also alters the way the public encounters them and their art.” All the artists in the show, according to the gallery notes, “became friends and colleagues through social media.” I would venture to say that is not completely true as I know for a fact that many of these artists knew each other way before Facebook and Instagram appeared on the scene, but whatever it sounds good in a press release. Their should be plenty of cute boys at this event (I mean with Gio, Slava and Naruki involved that’s guaranteed), and with performances by BoyWolf and music by DJ Sheba Legend, it promises to be more lively than your average art opening. So scrub up pretty k?