I'm Kenney Mencher. I'm an artist who left a tenured professorship in 2016 to pursue making art full time. This blog is about art, art history, with a emphasis on human rights. I make homoerotic art featuring bears, otters & other gay wildlife.
Our inaugural exhibition in the newly renovated and vastly expanded Museum space, Expanded Visions: Fifty Years of Collecting, is a historic collection show with approximately 250 works on view. Expanded Visions mines the rich cultural coffers of the Museum's collection to trace the evolution of our institution, amid decades of shifting social conditions. The exhibition presents a survey of the collection initiated by the Museum co-founders, Charles Leslie and Fritz Lohman, who have spent more than 50 years amassing artworks that speak directly to the LGBTQ experience. Their early efforts yielded a unique archive of work that would have otherwise been lost or destroyed, which comprises the core of the Museum’s collection that now houses more than 30,000 objects.
Berenice Abbott (1898-1991) is best known for her dynamic 1930s cityscapes, Changing New York. As a lesbian and feminist, Abbott found community within the small worlds of Greenwich Village and Montparnasse before discovering a similar freedom in Maine. She listed as an Artist in the 1920 US Census and hung around Man Ray and Djuna Barnes. As she matured in Paris and the US, the once “crazy kid” became productive, but never fashionable or accommodating. To Abbott’s detriment, her prickly temperament was, in her view, irrelevant to her creativity—inalterable yet inconsequential like her flat Midwestern speech or her same-sex affinity.
Above all, she wanted to be remembered as a “self-taught risk taker.” Abbott’s oversize B/W prints are now ubiquitous; their very impersonality a hallmark. Yet she held that because “reality” is the subject, a photographer couldn’t help “equating the objective world with his self.” Her biography lies in the creative tension between this belief and its expression, and is mirrored in her long, contradictory life.
Julia Van Haaften is the author of the biography of American documentary modernist photographer, Berenice Abbott, forthcoming from W. W. Norton, early 2018. This talk is co-sponored by the Robert Giard Foundation and the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art.
Charles Leslie, co- founder of the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, unveils two epic painting by Sonia Melara.
Charles Leslie will share the story behind his latest commission, which illustrates the ancient Sumerian love story of Gilgamesh and Enkidu. The evening will be topped off by Sonia Melara, singing her newly published catalogue raisonne. Drinks and Middle Eastern hors d’oeuvres will be served.
Image: Sonia Melara, The Martyrdom of Ganymede,(detail), 2001. Courtesy of the artist.
David Del Tredici is an American composer, Pulitzer prize winner for music, a recipient of the Woodrow Wilson Fellowships, Guggenheim Fellowships and pioneer of the Neo-Romantic movement. He has also been described by the Los Angeles times as one the United States' "most flamboyant outside composers." In his career as a composer he created works celebrating "gayness", acknowledging that many great composers were gay and that "it's something to be celebrated." His partner Malefakis describes his photographs of David as capturing David's daily routine of composing, eating, going to concerts, working out, etc. He is there to document the special moments large and small. With these images he celebrates David's 80th birthday.
Angellos Ioannis Malefakis, the photographer, is an accomplished professional who passion for photography was rekindled when he met David Del Tredici. He is a veteran of the US military, born in Pyrgos, Greece, and grew up in the NYC.
Hidden Subject deals with movement, bodies and shapes, contrasting a sense of serenity with the tension of a latent sexuality that could be present but remains hidden. Gerardo Vizmanosí work is heavily influenced by his experience of being born into a heteronormative society which tolerates gay men who are able to hide within assigned roles.
The concept of subject is central to Vizmanosí work. The artist uses his visual language to address philosophical concepts surrounding the notion of being. His work addresses paradoxes: Showing elements that can be at once present and absent from perception. Looking at these images, "subject" can be the one who is under authority or control, or the one who originates the controlling action.
Hidden Subject will be presented with a display of murals specifically for this show where Gerardo Vizmanos will show references and elements that inform his work. In this first solo exhibition, he showcases different styles and techniques and features 25 color, and black and white images. In addition to the show there will be a gallery talk with the opportunity to meet the artist.
Images: Gerardo Vizmanos, Back landscape, 2016, 35mm/Inkjet print, 15.5x18.5in. Gerardo Vizmanos, Face collage, 2016, Polaroid, 15.5x18.5in. Gerardo Vizmanos, Back and black, 2016, Digital/Inkjet print, 15.5x18.5in. Courtesy the artist.
Chris Bogia is the Co-Founder and Director of Fire Island Artist Residency (FIAR), the first LGBTQ artist residency in the world, located in Cherry Grove, on Fire Island, NY. A visual artisit and instructor of sculpture at New York University, Bogia will share personal work and describe his inspiration and leadership behind the Fire Island Artist Residency. Bogia will be joined by FIAR alum:
Travis Boyer (2011) favors socio-kinetic art and generative group activities and is motivated by an interest in the visual and tactile potential of textiles, as well as the intimacy and sensuality of fabrics.
Kris Grey (2012) is a gender queer artist whose work combines strategies of communication, activism, community building, education, lecture, and studio production. KristinGrey.com
Babirye Leilah Burns Sculptor (2015) is a visual artist specializing in abstract sculpture utilizing wood, scrap metal and found objects. She deals with subjects including human rights and gay issues in Uganda, exploring political, social and economic topics.
Jesse Harrod (2016) makes work that employs traditional and contemporary craft practices focused on craft as a shadow category of art production to traditional or mainstream fine art. She is interested in how a "hobbyist" or "bad taste" aesthetic may relate to queer identity, as well as to second and third wave feminist thought. JesseHarrod.com
This series opens space for critical dialogue between artists, curators, and the general public through lectures and panels. These events explore the role of LGBTQ issues in art making and situate the Museum as a platform for contemporary cultural discourse and education. Speakers Series lectures are free and open to the public and start at 6:30 unless otherwise noted.
Funding for this series has been received in part from the generous support of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council; from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature; and educational grants from the Arcus Foundation and the Keith Haring Foundation.
Image: FIAR Flag, 2016, digital photograph detail. Courtesy of the FIAR.