Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art in New York City Receives Museum Accreditation from State of New York

Even well after the cultural wars of the mid 1980’s, the representation of sexual difference in art has been aggressively policed. And America’s museums, with few notable exceptions, have been silent in the face of what is now the most vocal contemporary civil rights frontier. But there has never been a shortage of gay and lesbian art on display in America’s museums; what has been lacking is the courage to articulate that fact and to illustrate how the artist’s sexuality influenced his/her art.   Now, for the first time, a new museum in New York will finally show what has been hiding in plain sight.  With the recent accreditation by the State of New York as an official Museum, the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art (MoGLA) has become the first and only museum of gay and lesbian art in the world.  

Charles Leslie and his late partner Fritz Lohman – who organized their first small exhibition of gay art the same year as the Stonewall riots in 1969 – founded the new Museum with their multi-million dollar gift.   It is now run by a Board of Directors, helmed by Prof.  Jonathan David Katz, the co-curator of the recent Hide/Seek – the first major museum exhibit to focus on themes of gender and sexuality in modern American portraiture.  The Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art focuses on gender and sexuality, in the still relatively unexplored historical, socio-political and cultural context in which these gay and lesbian artists lived.

“While until recently, queer art exhibitions assumed an audience of mostly queer visitors, a new generation of queer cultural institutions instead seeks to make queer art visible to a mainstream audience. If we learned anything from the record setting attendance of Hide/Seek it was that people of all stripes were hungry for precisely the information the big museums have been censoring for decades now,” said Katz.

The museum has announced an aggressive programming schedule for  the Fall of 2012, featuring the first major American retrospective of transgender photographer Del LaGrace Volcano.  (http://www.dellagracevolcano.com/index.html). Widely exhibited in European museums, the American- born Volcano has been almost completely ignored in this country, and represents, according to Katz, “exactly the rationale for this new museum.”  This fall will also see a major exhibit of legendary American artist Paul Thek’s early work in the context of his gay social circle of the fifties and sixties, and will include many works never exhibited before. While there was an exhibit of Paul Thek’s work at the Whitney Museum in 2010-11, these early works were not shown. “This will be the first exhibition of Thek ever mounted that reveals how powerfully his gayness structured his early work,” said Katz. (There will be a separate announcement about these shows coming later.). 

The Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art has a permanent collection of more than 6,000 objects spanning more than three centuries of gay and lesbian art.  The new museum will mount historical, thematic, and survey exhibitions drawn not only from its permanent collection but also from museums and private collections around the world.   Its programs include 6-8 major exhibitions a year, film screenings, plays, poetry readings, artist and curator talks, panel discussions, THE ARCHIVE (a quarterly newsletter focusing on gay and lesbian art and artists), a membership program, a research library and an archive of the permanent collection.   

Though newly accredited as the first dedicated gay and lesbian art museum in the world, the Leslie/Lohman Gay Art Foundation, founded by Charles W. Leslie and Fritz Lohman, has for more than 20 years, persevered in its mission to exhibit, preserve and foster the works of gay and lesbian art and artists. The new museum will now exhibit and analyze a wider range of art and artists, national and international, while staying true to its mission.  A non-profit, membership organization, the museum is committed to offering all of its exhibitions with no admission charge. 

 Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art (MoGLA)

26 Wooster Street

(btwn Canal & Grand)

New, York, NY  10013

212.431.2609

Gallery Hours: Tues – Sat: Noon-6pm

www.leslielohman.org

 

 

The Piers: Art and Sex along the New York Waterfront
Curated by Jonathan Weinberg with Darren Jones
Exhibition Dates: April 5 – July 7, 2012

Opening reception: Wednesday, April 4th; 6-8PM

The Piers: Art and Sex along the New York Waterfront is the first museum exhibition to focus exclusively on the uses of the Hudson River docks by artists and a newly emerging gay subculture. It presents over 70 works of art that demonstrate how the gay liberation movement–spurred by the 1969 Stonewall riots–transformed the cultural and social landscape of New York. For the first time such seminal works of the New York avant-garde as Vito Acconci’s Untitled Project for Pier 17, Gordon Matta-Clark’s, Day’s End and David Wojnarowicz’s Rimbaud in New York, will be shown alongside little known photographs of the gay cruising scene by Leonard Fink, Frank Hallam, Lee Snider, and Rich Wandel. 

After years of persecution and repression in the 1950s and 60s, the counter-culture revolution of the late 1960s brought about many cultural changes; this was especially true of changes in sexual attitudes. Public nudity and sex were becoming more accepted, especially as subject matter for artists seeking new forms of expression. In the post-Stonewall era, these new-found freedoms were swept up into a changing socio-political and historical landscape that gave rise to the gay rights movement. The New York Piers, where many gay New Yorkers gathered in the late 1960s and 1970s, where these new sexual freedoms were often played out, became the crossroads for an emerging gay subculture and for artists of that period.

Between 1971 and 1983, the piers were the site of an enormous range of works by artists as different as Acconci and Peter Hujar, Shelley Seccombe and Tava, Matta-Clark and Arthur Tress. Many of these same dilapidated structures were a locus for gay men to sunbathe naked, cruise and have sex. At the edge of Greenwich Village, this “arena for sexual theater,” became the backdrop for elaborate photographic tableaus by Fink, Stanley Stellar and Tress. The Italian filmmaker Ivan Galietti saw the piers as an updated version of the ruins of Pompeii. These same ruins provided a backdrop for Jack Smith to perform Sinbad Glick for Uzí Parnes’s camera.

In 1983 Wojnarowicz and Mike Bidlo took over Pier 34 and made it an extension of the East Village scene. In Andreas Sterzing’s photographs of the projects by such artists as Louis Frangella, John Fekner, David Finn, and Judy Glantzman, there is a marvelous sense of freedom and community. In general, the piers below Fourteenth Street, were in Gordon Matta-Clark’s words a site of “interest, fascination and value,” but also risk and sexual adventure. 

Please join us for an opening reception on Wednesday, April 4, from 6 to 8pm at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art. A panel discussion with the artists and curators will be held at the NYU Fales Library on April 12, from 6-7:30pm. 

Jonathan Weinberg, Ph.D. is a painter, and author of Ambition and Love in Modern American. He is a recipient of a 2002 Guggenheim Fellowship. He won a grant from the Creative Capital/AndyWarhol Foundation to pursue his research on the piers and is currently writing a book entitled Pier Groups: Art and Identity along the New York Waterfront, 1971-1983. 

Darren Jones is a Scottish artist, based in New York. He received a BA (Hons) from Central Saint Martins, London (1997) and his MFA from Hunter College, New York (2009). He has had several national and international exhibitions. Jones also works as a curator and is a contributing writer for ArtUS

About the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art

Accredited as the first and only dedicated gay and lesbian art museum in the world, the Leslie- Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art’s mission is to exhibit, preserve and foster the creation of gay and lesbian art and artists which speak directly to many aspects of the gay and lesbian experience, including political, historical, romantic and social imagery. We embrace this rich creative history by informing, inspiring, entertaining and challenging all who enter our doors.
The Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art has a permanent collection of more than 6,000 objects spanning more than three centuries of gay and lesbian art. Our programs include 6-8 major exhibitions a year, film screenings, plays, poetry readings, artist and curator talks, panel discussions, THE ARCHIVE-a quarterly newsletter focusing on gay and lesbian art and artists, a membership program, a research library and an archive of the permanent collection. 

The Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art began as the Leslie/Lohman Gay Art Foundation, founded by Charles W. Leslie and Fritz Lohman, and for more than 20 years has supported gay and lesbian artists. For more information, go to www.leslielohman.org

Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art

26 Wooster Street

(btwn Canal & Grand)

New, York, NY 10013

212.431.2609 

The Piers: Art and Sex along the New York Waterfront

Opening Reception: Wednesday, April 4, 6pm – 8pm

Exhibition Runs: April 5 to May 10, 2012

Gallery Hours: Tuesday – Saturday: Noon-6pm 

For press questions and images please contact: 

Steve Deitsch

Reverberate! Marketing Communications

steve@re-verberate.com

212-727-0790

Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art
26 Wooster Street, New York, NY 10013

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