Two terms that defy definition don’t get any cleared when paired. But at City Lights Gallery, I was invited to join a discussion on just what “gay art” is and how to exhibit it.
Yesterday I talked with the gallery’s director, Suzanne Kachmar; local artist Ricky Mestre, whose public access show showed off his comedic skills before most of us knew he could seriously paint; and Mike Falcigno, who works at the gallery and is, like Ricky, an amazing artist.
So would a gay art show be about gay artists, gay topics, gay artists’ reflections of gay life? Does saying “gay” imply only men? If we call it an LGBTQ show, are we sounding kind of political? Should it matter?Maybe it should be a “queer” art show. That word still offends many straights and gays, but it’s all we have to describe all sexual minorities. If we appear to be hiding behind other words (like calling it a “pride” exhibit) we are giving the impression we’re coy about the “g” or the “q” word, and that’s offensive too. You see what I mean here. It’s a real minefield.
If you google “gay art exhibit,” you mainly get homoerotic images of white males. Not gonna cut it. Or maybe iconographic images like Tom of Finland’s (pictured). Fine, but not necessarily trail-blazing.
So Suzanne is putting out a very broad invitation for an “untitled queer art exhibit.” After some submissions come in, she (or we if I’m invited again to weigh in) will take it from there.
All we really want is to parlay a strong theme into a strong show with good art.