Leslie Lohman Museum



"Vulvavision" or "The Lesbian Spirit"

By Wayne Snellen


Do we need a separate show for Lesbians and Gay men? I would say, Yes. From time to time is is good and necessary to view the two entities separately. We easily loose touch with the female aspect of our community. I look around and all I often see is a sea of men. The women seem to gather somewhere else.


Vulvavision, the provocative title for this show came from our lesbian co-curator, Drag King, Arlene Sandler. I had proposed a working title of The Lesbian Spirit. We both agreed that it needed a more daring, eye catching hook. Little did we know that there would be some objections. The point is well taken that many women are trying to distance themselves from the blatant sexuality men have so well promoted and present a more positive image. However, it does seem that a few women are beginning to explore their sexuality openly and aggressively. Maria Beatty, for example, is using video and photography to present an S&M side of women that is seldom seen..


The one thing that is so wonderful in the work of this show is the originality, variety and innovation. Becki Jayne Harrelson, whose almost monumental oil on canvas speaks directly to that deeply felt realization that what we have been taught by most of our religious leaders is, to put it bluntly, crap. Fran Winant's work is equally adept at asking the same questions but in a quieter, more subtle way. Christine Whittaker's sculpture, dedicated to her brother, has the ambition of a true monument. Solid, impenetrable, yet insightful, using both old and new technology, it lays open the whole realm of AIDS and our seeming inability to overcome the power of government and community hostility. Drag King, Arlene Sandler's photographs testify to a blatant sexuality some may question. She is an anomaly, because in this time of Drag Queens where are the Drag Kings? Maria Vullo's Barbies tread dangerously close upon sacred ground. Mattel is not happy. Sheila Seguim's two pieces contain architectural elements and belie their seeming naïve construction with sophisticated elements and quotes from art history.

Painful and joyful moments are captured in the work of this show. Nancy Weinstock's Lesbian Wedding Portrait and others in this exhibition are quiet testimony that all art need not be monumental, forceful and aggressive, to be effective. The feminine aspect speaks to each element on a level different than men. It is this understanding and level we seek however unfathomable, mysterious or foreign it may seem. We need to see it. Gay men need to see it. Lesbians have no trouble seeing male art -- heterosexual and gay. But the opposite is not often the case.

Women seem to have the impression that Leslie-Lohman is only for gay males. Well, "it ain't necessarily so." Our purview is all of gay and lesbian art -- particularly erotic -- but it easily encompasses other aspects as well, even an occasional abstract work.

It is for these reasons that the Leslie-Lohman Gay Art Foundation proudly mounted this group show of Lesbian artists in all their glory. It is the second such show -- the first being two years ago. If this is any indication then, hopefully, it will grow into a biennial show that Lesbians will want to participate in and can count on.

Vulvavision and Barbie's Lesbian Odyssey were presented Sept. 5 - Oct. 21, 1995.



Sheila Seguin
Bound, 1989


Christine Whittaker..
lays open the whole
realm of AIDS and our seeming inability to overcome the power
of government and community hostility.

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