About 600 people are expected to crowd the Leslie/Lohman Gay Art Foundation’s reception Tuesday when a week-long exhibit, “Art & AIDS: Loving Life,” opens.
Leslie/Lohman has donated their SoHo gallery space to GMHC to highlights the work of men living with HIV and AIDS. The show is curated by Osvaldo Perdomo and David Livingston, pictured here.
The exhibition is an outcome of work from weekly therapeutic art classes by GMHC. Not only does the art help the artists’ physical wellbeing, but they are able to sell their artwork which increases financial independence, particularly for those who live on a limited income.
We were there in SoHo yesterday to see the artists hang their work. Well, that’s misleading. It’s more accurate to say we dropped in unexpectedly as the artists and curators were busy mounting the show. And despite our ill-timed visit, the people there couldn’t have been more gracious.
We saw paintings, photography, sculpture and drawings — plus a gown designed for Mariah Carey — by 45 artists including John Alberto, T. Barke, Loreen Bryant, Frank A. Cappucci , Niccolo Cataldi, Clecio Lira, Jon Copley, Brian Crede, Preston Cros, Ben Delgado, eljay, Orlando Ferrand, Marcus Garcia, Milton Garcia Ninja, Juan Go, Michael Harwood, Charles Hopkinson, James, Bob Johnson, Michael Kornegay, David Livingston, Geary Marcello, David Marks Max, Kevin H. Maxwell, Robert Miles Parker, Greg Mitchell, Joseph Modica, Jorge Moncayo, Brad Oliphant, Rob Ordonez, Osvaldo Perdomo, PMS, Fred A. Quintiliani, Roberto Quiñones Medina, Eric Rhein, Peter J. Robinson, Jr., Tim Shaw, Luis Mario Tavales, George Towne, TRETierney, Elton Tucker, and Shungaboy.
The show represents a range from novice, first-time exhibitors to well-established artists. What pulls these disparate pieces together is the way the communicate joy.
I’ve complained before about how coy artists are when depicting the male form, much less homoerotic imagery. I’m happy to say the artists here are celebrating sex, love and passion in a hearty and honest way. We saw this boldness a few weeks ago in Hudson, with Eric Rhein’s, exhibition, and then here — where Rhein’s work is also on display. One of his pieces, a hummingbird rendered in his distinctive wire technique, was donated for the silent auction to benefit GMHC.
Proceeds from the sale go directly to the artists and a silent auction will benefit GMHC.
Leslie/Lohman traces its roots to a loft exhibit in 1969, but became a non-profit foundation in 1990 after years of wrangling with the IRS (which objected to the word “gay” in its title). Its mission is to “be a safe haven for that art which is often excluded from mainstream exhibitions and textbooks and looked upon as taboo or less than important or embracing by historians and critics. Indeed, some even try to deny its existence!”
Aside from its exhibits, the foundation has in its archives a sizable permanent collection of art numbering over 3,000 items. It has been recognized as one of the oldest arts groups engaged in the collection and preservation of gay art.
Prompted by the City Lights Gallery’s upcoming “Same Sex” show, I’ve asked on this blog before how to define “gay art.” Leslie/Lohman addresses this in no uncertain terms:
The Foundation’s Leslie/Lohman Gallery mounts exhibitions of work in all media by gay and lesbian artists with an emphasis on subject matter that speaks directly to gay and lesbian sensibilities, including, erotic, political, romantic, and social imagery and providing special support for emerging and underrepresented artists.