Antonio Lopez, Mike Haire 1, 1983, Watercolor and pencil on paper, 23 x 15 in. Courtesy of the Estate of Antonio Lopez and Juan Ramos.
STROKE: From Under the Mattress to the Museum Walls
Mar 28 - May 25, 2014
Art and desire make a potent combination, and there is nothing like a little prohibition thrown in to make it more exciting.
Through the work of 25 artists, this exhibition tells an important story about how art – really good work – served to fill a void in men’s lives at a time when their society, and often their own families, abandoned a critical part of their identity. Despite the power of this work and its impact on a major segment of the gay population, it is still shunned simply because some fear its content.
This work represents art that was printed in magazines designed for gay men and available on nearly every street corner or local drug store in America from the 1950s to the 1990s. More likely than not, when the magazines were purchased, they were secreted away in a private place.
This is the work of artists who made beautiful work depicting intimate, sexy relationships between men, sometimes with more than one partner, but always with the intention of connecting us with the humanity shown. These works allow us to visualize the reality of a physical relationship with an object of our desire. They were created specifically to tell us that our desire wasn’t an aberration, but was in fact a common, normal impulse.
A victim of the technologically diverse digital age, the heyday for gay male magazines has passed, but the work of these artists endures and still continues to be made.