The first in a series showcasing the artist's multifaceted practice.
Best known as the frontman of alt-rock band R.E.M., Michael Stipe is an artist in the most far-reaching sense of the word. His distinct vocals are hard not to recognize thanks to the popularity of tracks like “Losing My Religion” and “Shiny Happy People”. Stipe has also worked extensively in film, founding two production companies and acting as the executive producer behind well-known independent hits like like Being John Malkovich and Velvet Goldmine. His circle of friends — musicians Natalie Merchant, Tori Amos, Thom Yorke, Courtney Love, and the late Kurt Cobain, just to name a few — reads like a who’s who of the 90’s alternative rock scene. It should comes as no surprise that Stipe would extend his practice into the realm of the visual for his latest project — a photo book.
Volume I is the first in the series “presenting different aspects of Michael Stipe’s multifaceted artistic practice.” Here Stipe and co-collaborator Jonathan Berger work with photographs; there are thirty-five in total and through them Stipe plays an array of roles. He moves fluidly between subject, photographer, and curator, putting together his own photographs with found pieces from his collection. Present in condensed form are 37-years of Stipe’s artistic practice of creating and collecting materials, and he involves the two practices in Volume 1 as he conflates “figures in his own life with those in American history and popular culture,” focusing specifically within his experience as a queer man.
The book features many of his friends, lovers and fellow artists. …
Cell Count, is a new exhibition opening at La MaMa Galleria this Thursday, May 31st curated by Kyle Croft and Asher Mones. When I first heard about the name of the show I knew it was going to be HIV related, but wasn’t sure the potency of the content in this exhibition. “In the last ten years, HIV-specific criminal statutes have been used in over 300 prosecutions in the United States, resulting in prison sentences of up to thirty years. The nature of these laws varies across the thirty-four states where they are currently in effect, but the majority criminalize the act of HIV non-disclosure, placing people living with HIV at risk of prosecution and incarceration for consensual sexual activity if they do not notify their partner of their HIV status, regardless of condom use, viral load, or the actual risk of transmission.” The show brings together artists who unpack the metaphors and assumptions that enable the punishment and incarceration of people living with HIV. It’s multi-medium group of artists including Jordan Arseneault, Barton Lidicé Beneš (1942–2012), Brian Carmichael, Chad Clarke, Chloe Dzubilo (1960–2011), Doreen Garner, Camilo Godoy, Frank Green (1957–2013), Shan Kelley, M. Lamar, Charles Long with Christopher Paul Jordan, Alexander McClelland, Laurie Jo Reynolds, Muhjah Shakir and Chris E. Vargas. Performances by Jordan Arseneault with Mikiki and Timothy DuWhite. Can’t wait to experience this show and honor those who have been so unfortunate as to deal with HIV issues, yet still take a stand to fight for people’s rights.
By 5:00AM on Saturday, May 26 the cruise ship I’d been aboard for the past week had neared itself close enough to shore, so I had cell service. I practically leaped out of my twin bed as my younger brother snored next to me and got to scrolling on Insta. By 6:00PM that very same day I was at the opening reception for This Is Not Here: RE 21. I saw the flyer on my feed, got my roommates together and said “Girls, I need culture!” and luckily they happily agreed to walk over to the Pfizer Building for the monthly show. Re: Art Show is an ever-evolving, recurrent curatorial project spearheaded by Erin Davis and Max C. Lee. For the show’s 21st installment multi-medium artist and curator Efrem Zelony-Mindell collected a huge group of artists exercising in every medium, though there seemed to be a focus on interactive installation/sculpture, especially those of the larger scale, and a performance went on as well. Among the favorites from my friends and myself were the motorized styrofoam and rock sculptures that hump, accelerate, wedge and die inside a metal ring shape, maybe picked from an old bumper-car (by Leander Knust), a curious albeit simple perception room (by Adam Liam Rose) new work from photographer (and GAYLETTER Issue 4 contributor) Daniel Rampulla and a chair held up by a very brave leaf (by Raul De Lara). I couldn’t have asked for a better evening back in New York. I was pleasantly surprised, had Pabst for old times sake and proceeded to get drunk at a local bar. Pop your head into this one, it’s got over 20 artists, so there’s something for everyone. The exhibition is up until June 17, 2018.
This summer the Bureau at the LGBTQ Center in NYC will host its most ambitious exhibition to date. Liz Collins, whose work plays with weaving and functionality using both synthetic and natural materials, will take her carpet and wallpaper designs to dramatically transform the Bureau in Cast of Characters. The salon-style exhibition will feature portraits of 95 LGBTQ artists, both emerging and established. Collins, working inside of large-scale fiber weaving, takes common structures like chairs, or drywall and transforms them into elaborate, deliberate and beautifully paletted pieces that hold their weight in big museum shows like Trigger: Gender as a Tool and a Weapon, but also in the small gallery setting as well. Cast of Characters “features a remarkable group of artists showing special works in a site-specific context. The show opens during PRIDE month and will be a grounding and celebratory site for folks to see a broad representation of LGBTQ creativity and life today in a context that queers a design strategy originated in traditional and formal domestic spaces.” Featuring artists GAYLETTER loves and supports, like Vincent Dilio, Doron Langberg, Zanele Muholi, Mickalene Thomas, Kia LaBeija, Troy Michie and more, the enormous group was cast to set the precedent for how large of a scale there is for queer representation in 2018. It opens to the public on June 15! Make a pledge.
A sexy, shocking and endearing new zine edited by A.A. Bronson
Doug Melnyk’s new ‘zine, Pyjamas, has been on my desk when it’s not on my dining table and when it’s not in bed with me. Needless to say, I love it!
In his signature playful, process-driven and unabashed style, Melnyk’s high quality scans detail original drawings that show the artist’s decision to move the angle of an ankle in one sketch and the subtle but declared use of color in another, highlighting erogenous zones or the environs in which his characters come to life. The passing of time in a single black and white image lets us watch as the smaller-guy (the protagonist) first clues into his curiosity and then let’s wander get the best of him, only to have the hand that leads him to pleasure become trapped by some midday dalliance — the pay-off being not just the reclined hardening hunk on the couch, but rather the reveal of the small guy’s hairy cheeks just above the lowered pyjama bottoms as he tumbles over and onto a big fellow.
And what to say about those offerings of glorious groups of athletes and college roommates? They’re simultaneously stimulating and cringe-worthy in the visual exploits of sexual fantasies turned everyday nightmare in our world of power imbalance. Like the hotel art included in a two-page spread of hijinks. It features some implausible meeting between a stag and a lion act as precursor to the single black guy, naked and in the mix of five other white guys, pouncing on the immature redhead and pinning him to the floor face-down as his cock is about to breach the exposed ass. …
The Factory's hedonistic hit comes to print
In 1966 Andy Warhol released The Chelsea Girls, a three and a half hour experimental film which would become his greatest commercial success. Part documentation, part experiment in hyperreality, the film is a series of vignettes in which Warhol’s superstars play altered versions of themselves. Everything is shown in split-screen and the audio alternates between the two videos. In one sequence German singer Nico cuts her own bangs. In another the artist Brigid Berlin plays herself (nicknamed “the Duchess”) wearing gold chains and shooting up amphetamines. In one of many scenes shot at the Chelsea Hotel, Mary Woronov, playing Vietnam War-era radio host Hanoi Hannah, barks at Warhol’s Ingrid Superstar, Angelina “Pepper” Davis and Susan Bottomly, also known as International Velvet. The Chelsea Girls is dark and glamorous and mundane, and above all, voyeuristic. Upon its release audiences were captivated, critics were polarized but ever opinionated, and the film would go on to be played internationally for two years.
Since then, apart from occasional museum screenings, The Chelsea Girls has been nearly impossible to see. However in honor of their 24th anniversary, the Andy Warhol Museum is undertaking the major project of digitizing hundreds of Warhol’s films— including The Chelsea Girls. Coinciding with the museum’s project is the release of Andy Warhol’s The Chelsea Girls, a “deluxe treatment of the 12-reel, split-screen film, featuring stills from the newly digitized film, previously unpublished transcripts and archival materials, and expanded texts about each of the individual films that comprise The Chelsea Girls.” Including an essay by Gus Van Sant, the book — out with D.A.P. …
We met the artist Laurie Simmons at her apartment in Brooklyn a few years back when we interviewed her for GAYLETTER magazine about her dear friend Jimmy DeSana. The apartment was very comfortable, bright light streamed in from giant windows that overlooked not one, but two bridges. It was a pretty gaggy afternoon. I remember when we left she embraced us and said “When I met Michelle Obama she told me she was a hugger, so now I’m a hugger.” I was like, OK werk, if you have to name drop, it might as well be Michelle Obama! But seriously, she was incredibly warm and had great stories to tell us about the art world in the 1970s, and the history of her and Jimmy’s friendship. So we were thrilled to hear that Laurie has a new show opening April 27th at the wonderful Mary Boone Gallery in Chelsea. Here’s what we know about it: “Mary Boone Gallery will open at its Chelsea location for ‘Clothes Make the Man: Works from 1990-1994’, a solo exhibition featuring the work of Laurie Simmons, curated by Piper Marshall. The exhibition, in collaboration with Salon 94, opens concurrently with Simmons’s show of new work at Salon 94, titled ‘2017: The Mess and Some New.’” This is an extensive show featuring a large body of Laurie’s work, but you should also check out the Salon 94 show to see what she’s recently been up to...besides hugging Michelle Obama. The show is up through July 27th.
Escapism and autobiography meet in Jacolby Satterwhite's new show.
In his latest exhibition at Gavin Brown’s Enterprises, artist Jacolby Satterwhite takes everything to the next level, literally. Entitled Blessed Avenue, the visually stunning three-piece installation reflects his trademark use of 3D animation and themes of gestation, sexuality, and identity. Satterwhite renders an intoxicating vernacular of realism and fantasy starting with a 30-minute animé that takes us on a virtual journey through scenes of BDSM, avatar-inspired domination, and even a cameo by Lola Ciccone.
But Blessed Avenue is as much commemorative as it is affirmative. The exhibit pays homage to Satterwhite’s late mother — Patricia — who suffered from schizophrenia, and uses her stirring vocal compositions as well as a sample of the vast collection of her drawings. You bear witness firsthand to Patricia’s complex mind at work. This all while simultaneously delving deeper into his own wells of experience and Satterwhite re-imagines a fantastical alternate universe to state, rather convincingly, his status as an artistic provocateur.
Designed with stylist David Casavant, the exhibit’s accompanying merchandise store is as much a cheeky statement on consumerism as it is the artist’s manifestation of his mother’s dream realized. Sending illustrations of inventions to the QVC in hopes of monetary prizes, Satterwhite channels his mother’s aspirations of wealth into a boutique brimming with everyday objects for sale — cooking aprons and calendars baring Patricia’s likeness, impeccably dressed miniature Jacolby dolls, lotion, fans, and even lunch boxes grace the shelves of “Pat’s” 21st century boutique.
I sat down with Satterwhite to discuss his artistic process, how escapism informs his work, and what advice he gives to aspiring young gay artists. …
I was introduced to Company Gallery through Troy Michie — the brilliant collagist featured in GAYLETTER Issue 8. His very first solo show — Fat Cat Came To Play — was picked up by the gallery soon after some of his collages found themselves on exhibition in the New Museum’s well-received Trigger: Gender As a Tool and a Weapon.
I’ve since been kept in the loop with the gallery and was stoked to see they’re keeping it progressive and exhibiting works by younger artists making strides within their medium. Jonathan Lyndon Chase uses paintings and drawings as a means to explore black homosexuality and queerness, and the many illustrious formations bodies take when placed together in space. His works include point-blank homo-erotics, and various states of sensuality, however I want to point out that intercourse is never completely at play. While the bodies Lyndon Chase works with are sexualized, he delves into the poetry of conversation surrounding what a black queer body can do by placing them into scenes typically unseen: black men with flowers or black men kissing each other.
Chase focuses on the intimacy and the visceral qualities found within the everyday and as a result creates dialogues about the complexities surrounding gender, sexuality and race. In the show’s foreword by filmmaker Tiona Nekkia McClodden, she writes “[Chase’s] figures mirror each other, touch each other… and reach through each other… Lovemaking, or rather loving oneself is like this.”
12:00PM-6:00PM, Wed-Sun, 88 Eldridge St. …