Leslie Lohman Museum

EXPLORE

                
ARTISTS DAROLD PERKINS

 

PerkinsSafe Sex, 1999
Oil on canvas
10" x 8"

Darold Perkins
Painter, Designer

x - 2001

 

Throughout his life, Perkins (known to many as simply "Perk") has dabbled in this, excelled at that , and has made a name for himself in several fields of artistry. Beginning with an art class in high school, Perk (as his Texas family would have it) frittered away his time not only with sketching and painting, but with music and drama as well. (He sang the Star-Spangled Banner at nearly every football, baseball and every other kind of game in Houston for several years. He was no stranger to church choirs, either - but, that was a long time ago?) Then, to thoroughly horrify the kith and kin, he enrolled as an art major at the University of Texas. ("An art major" What the hell is that? And in Texas? What's the matter with that boy??)

The university days were followed by a stint in the US Army - during which he was accused of illicit relations with other men. The"Dont ask don't tell" policies of the current administration may not be perfect, but Perkins believes it beats the hell out of the policies operating during his time in the service, which were something along the lines of: "If someone reports anything funny about you, we're going to kick your ass our of here - even if you aren't messing around with other guys!" ...which is exactly what happened to Perk. Throughout his life, he has never been ashamed of who he is or, for that matter, what he is.  And, he wasn't ashamed in the Army - but, he wasn't guilty, either. Another gay man with whom he was barely acquainted got caught in the act. When the authorities questioned the man about who else was "queer"' he speculated that Darold might possibly be suspicious.

 

The lesser result of this speculation was a dishonorable discharge for the man and everyone he named. The major result was Perks freedom to buy a one-way ticket to New York City. During a time when gay was still defined as a state of light-heartedness, Perk had more common sense than to waste too much time with political outrage. He had too many other things he wanted to do.

 

Beginning with the cattle-calls on the Broadway theatre circuit, Perk began to get roles both on Broadway and in touring companies. Josh Logan chose him a number of times to play the handsome kid with boyish charm (the male ingenue). He worked with Ella Logan in Finnian's Rainbow, toured with Mary Martin in Annie Get Your Gun. He did Guys and Dolls, and Showboat. "The world was wild and wonderful then for people in the theatre" Perk recalls."Formal afternoon cocktail parties, stage-door Johns, nightclubs after the show...I never bought my own dinner!"

 

While on tour, the bored wife of the pianist happened to notice Perk's drawings as they rode from city to city. It occurred to her that this handsome young man with the beautiful voice might prove to actually be a cash cow, in other ways, with the right guidance. When they got back to New York, she proclaimed herself his art agent and went to work peddling his talents to the design industry. Perk enrolled at New York's Traphagen School of Fashion Design (now part of the Fashion Institute of Technology), but soon thereafter was called into a conference with the instructor to discuss the drawing assignments."Go Home"' the teacher told him. "I can see already that I can't teach you anything that you don't already know." So began a career - between road shows (he was having too much fun!) - devoted to the design of fabric, wallpaper (notably, for the Fountainbleu Hotel in Miami Beach), rugs, place mats and other items of domestic ilk. During the several decades Perk has been in the design trade, he's worked with Gloria Vanderbilt, Martha Stewart and Howard Kaplan.

 

During another tour, he played in Southern Main at the grand old Ogunquit Playhouse, one of America's finest summer stock theatres (which still survives), Perk fell in love with the place. While he had dabbled with set design in New York, with only a few solid credits, he was hired as the Playhouse set designer. So began a third career - which expanded from the Ogunquit Playhouse in the summers to the Royal Ponciana Playhouse in Miami Beach in the winters, designing for productions that starred an array of screen and stage celebrities (including, Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronin, Maureen Stapleton, Leslie Caron, Tammy Grimes, Joan Fontaine...)

 

One winter, Perk chose to stay in Ogunquit rather than to fly to Miami Beach. Being from Texas, Perk had evisioned Maine winters as picturesque wonderlands of snow and fun...what he discovered instead was cabin fever and boredom. So, to pass the time, he decided to see if he could really paint. The result was five paintings of male nudes in various erotic arrangements. Three of the paintings sold through the Leslie-Lohman Gallery. Encouraged, Perk painted five more. Four out of those five sold. As he began to grow in yet another career, his painting entitled Requiem to a New Day won the Best of Show prize at a well-known jury show held in Concord, Maine.

 

Per'ss paintings are not the standard classical renderings of themes such as Nude holding a spear, nor are they purely pornographic. When he paints, he intends to deliver an idea that surrounds the image of the characters in the picture. He prefers humorous ideas and subjects with personalities. In fact, Perk has been called the Norman Rockwell of gay art by a number of contemporaries. He is unsure as yet whether this comparison is acceptable. Perk, however, is very careful about taking himself too seriously. He is not envious of other painters' talents and, not to steal a technique or idea, studies their art to learn more about the craft, while appreciating the styles different from his own.

 

Perk would like to create for the gay community another bit of tangible culture. These lasting objects of work and art that display the essence of a culture's existence are too rare in the gay culture. Besides enjoying painting attractive figures engaged in interesting pursuits, Perk also wants to contribute to and support gay art and culture.

D.B.

 

 

 

 

 

""

""

""

  Water Sports, 1999
Oil on canvas
20" x 16"
Handful, 1999
Oil on canvas
36" x 30"
Dressed to Kill, 2000
Oil on wood panel,
20" x 16"


 

 

""

""

""

  Bounty Hunter, 1998
Oil on canvas
20" x 20"

Safe Sex, 1999
Oil on canvas,
10" x 8"

Phone Sex, 1999
Oil on canvas
10" x 8"
 

""

""

  Summer Rental, 1998
Oil on canvas,
20" x 16"
Country Music
Oil on canvas
11" x 14"

 

 

 


donate  facebookTwittermailinglist
Copyright  I  Privacy  I  General Disclaimer