Marriage Equality in Washington State was signed into law by Governor Christine Gregoire on February 13; the backlash was immediate. Within hours Referendum 74, an attempt to overturn the bill which will undoubtedly be on the November 6 ballot, was filed with the Secretary of State. A court battle was waged over the wording of the amendment. Rick Santorum timed his stump speech here in Washington to follow the Governor’s signing ceremony and again complained that marriage equality would undermine the “sanctity of marriage.”
HIDE/SEEK: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture will open to the public Saturday at the Tacoma Art Museum (TAM) where it can be viewed from March 17 through June 10, 2012. So far, the backlash has been minimal; some donors to TAM withheld their donations; letters were written to the museum, several from out-of-state, but plaudits have overwhelmingly outweighed the complaints.
READ: Sacrilege Or Censorship? Christians Enraged by Art with Gay, Religious Images
The exhibition begins with images from the 1880′s, a photograph of Walt Whitman and a painting by Thomas Eakins. Like Walt Whitman, the exhibition’s intention is to follow Whitman in “lifting the veil on what has been hidden in the discussion of American art history.”
David C. Ward, co-curator of “Hide/Seek”and Historian at the National Portrait Gallery discusses Painting 47 Berlin.
“Marsden Hartley spent his life and career in search of a style to express the restless, contradictory aspects of his character and personality. The one time when Hartley seemed to find peace was, ironically, just before World War I. He traveled to Germany, fell in love with a German officer named Karl von Freyburg, and became entranced with the country’ s speed, efficiency, and vibrant colors. Reacting to Berlin and its culture–including German militarism, which he adored–Hartley developed an original style of abstraction that incorporated the signs and emblems of German life. In this memorial portrait, Hartley encodes his emotions through the use of von Freyburg’s initials, age at death, iron cross, and other signs-in the process creating a one of the earliest abstractions in American art. ”
Jonathan Katz, co-curator of “Hide/Seek” and Chair of the Visual Studies Doctoral Program at SUNY-Buffalo, discusses the photograph of Marsden Hartley by George Platt Lynes, “Marsden Hartley died the year after this photograph was taken, and this portrait of the artist is full of abstract themes of death and loss, both for the subject and the photographer, George Platt Lynes.
Hartley sits slumped and exhausted, a condition heightened by his mourning the recent death of a young man to whom he was attracted in Maine. But Lynes alludes to Hartley’s earlier loss of Karl von Freyburg in World War I in the shadowy figure of the young man in uniform projected on the back wall. This memorial to lost youth had a poignant double meaning, since Lynes’s assistant, George Tichenor, to whom he was deeply and unsuccessfully attracted, had just been killed in World War II. Lynes posed an assistant-quite possibly Tichenor’s brother Jonathan–in George’s uniform as an abstract representation of the losses that shadowed both his and the aged Hartley’s lives.”
HIDE/SEEK is worth a journey – it is a landmark show, the first of its kind to be shown in major museums in this country. Next week Youth and Beauty: Art of the American Twenties. The Love that dare not speak its name* speaks more softly in Dallas than in Tacoma. But if you listen carefully, the message is clear.
*At the trial which proved his undoing, Oscar Wilde referenced his lover Bosie’s (Lord Alfred Douglas) poem, Two Loves. Almost no one knows the poem, but almost everyone knows its most famous line, “the Love that dare not speak its name.”
HIDE/SEEK: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture
from March 17 to June 10, 2012
Tacoma Art Museum
1701 Pacific Avenue Tacoma, WA 98402
HOURS – Wednesdays–Sundays 10 am–5 pm, Thursdays 10 am–8 pm (March 22 through June 7) ADMISSION – Adult $9, Student/Military/Senior (65+) $8, Family $25 (2 adults and up to 4 children under 18). Children 5 and under free. Third Thursdays free from 5-8 pm. Members always free. CONTACT – 253.272.4258
Stuart Wilber believes that living life openly as a Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender or Allied person is the most powerful kind of activism. Shortly after meeting his partner in Chicago in 1977, he opened a gallery named In a Plain Brown Wrapper, where he exhibited cutting edge work by leading artists; art that dealt with sexuality and gender identification. In the late 1980’s when they moved to San Clemente, CA in Orange County, life as an openly gay couple became a political act. They moved to Seattle 16 years ago and married in Canada a few weeks after British Columbia legalized same-sex marriage. Although legally married in some countries, they are only considered domestic partners in Washington State. Equality continues to elude him.
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