7 gay and queer-identifying artists present an ensemble of unabashedly delicate and highly decorative works that employ non-traditional craft materials and techniques to arrive at an expression of exquisite beauty that pleasures the eye and quivers the soul.
For the vast majority of our planet’s inhabitants, life in the immediate aftermath of the COVID pandemic presents an anxious premonitory landscape inciting a narrow range of fear laden and negative responses. An alternative point of view, borrowed from individuals and groups that have weathered similar perilous episodes, allows that the very nature of turbulence propels instances of revelatory phenomena with near equivalent power. Susceptibility to these epiphanic forces seems linked to an individual’s or group’s aptitude to tolerate and remain attentive to the charged dynamics swirling about them while remaining essentially intact---a “wholeness” achieved through a hyper-awareness of what constitutes the core self in relationship to the self’s aptitude for creative manufacturing --the products, affectations, and transformations that allow for adaptive survival and more importantly, unexpected flights of the spirit.
For an individual, or a select group, the sum total of these adaptive expressions becomes a language onto itself---an insider argot secreting an inner strength and solidarity that confirms well-being as an achievable aspiration that shores up the individual and safeguards the group. Exuberance, by extension, becomes the best defense. The LGTBQ community, coming under the broad heading of “gay” or “queer”, well exemplifies a group having assembled a richly layered cultural expression---one that often trumpets an exaggerated theatricality of joy and ecstasy to scaffold a sheltering hope against hostile forces.
The exhibition “Rapture” stages a full-on display of the avenging transcendence of gaiety as a proven tactic for disarming oppression. The show features the work of seven artists that span two generations and collectively identify as gay, queer and non-binary. Chris Tanner weaponizes triviality and decorative embellishment by deploying non-traditional materials often associated with crafting, such as embroidery, sewing notions, beads, baubles and glittery sequins, to produce intricate sculptural forms that aim to pleasure the eye with an escapist holiday replete with dazzling displays of color, form and texture. Tanner’s installation will focus on his latest driftwood transformations that are fairytale spectacles of bejeweled splendor .
Andrew Cornell Robinson, a multimedia artist known to infuse his composite works with design, craft and fine art elements, will display ceramic vessels from his “My Cup Runneth Over” series. Created using traditional raku methods, a firing process initially invented for pottery intended for tea ceremonies (raku translates to “pleasure”), the pieces display dense black surfaces glazed over with shimmering jewel tones further heightened by embellishments of gold, glitter, paint and collaged paper.
Peter Hristoff ’s paintings and Sean O’Conner paper constructions similarly blur the line between art and design and mimic patterns one might see in wallpapers, printed fabrics, and quilts. Both employ a collage-inspired technique; for Hristoff , we see all-encompassing, edge-to-edge compositions cast with shadowy silhouettes that activate surface effects and hint at homo-romantic intentions. O’Connor’s naïve cut-outs similarly re-contextualize silhouettes, in this instance borrowing from Grecian urns and classical motifs to arrive at surrealist figure compositions that recall the ephemeral delicacy of Jean Cocteau. Cocteau’s sighing sensual line resurfaces in Harrison Tenzer’s high-chroma graphics that speak in layered hieroglyphs about biomorphic encounters that range from the pornographic to the miraculous.
Like Tenser’s drawings, Adrian Milton’s paintings and Wade Schaming’s sculptures, explore the language of abstraction to arrive at a queer aesthetic. Milton, a true child of the sixties, creates psychedelic geometries that recall the glittering flamboyance of his gender-bending drag performances as a Cockette. A magpie, Schaming hordes a wild and colorful assortment of mass- produced detritus and stockpiles it into teetering towers -- a perhaps too obvious symbol of fickle male desire and the paradox of the queer gaze which conflates prey and predator.
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