The Love that dare not speak its name just won’t shut up!* Marriage Equality bills are being debated and passed in state legislatures and signed — or in one instance vetoed — by governors across the nation. One of the leading contenders in the Republican presidential race spends more time talking about gay sex than most gay men I know. LGBTQ issues and images are prominently in the media and in our museums. From coast to coast, people living in or visiting New York, Ohio, Texas or Washington state will have the opportunity to view major exhibitions at notable museums which focus on or include works of art that are explicitly or implicitly depictions of LGBTQ subjects or iconography.
HIDE/SEEK: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture will make its final stop at the Tacoma Art Museum (TAM) from March 17th to June 10th; this is the exhibition’s only West Coast destination. In Manhattan, The Steins Collect: Matisse, Picasso, and the Parisian Avant-Garde is at the Met now through June 3. And in Dallas, The Dallas Museum of Art presents Youth and Beauty: Art of the American Twenties through May 27 before the show moves on to The Cleveland Museum of Art where it will be on view July 1 –September 16. Over the next few days The New Civil Rights Movement will give our readers a look at these exhibitions.
Here in the Pacific Northwest spring is in evidence; daffodils are popping up and the Forsythia is in bloom; it is a great time for a visit. Another reason to visit is Hide/Seek which opens Saturday in Tacoma, just a short drive from Seattle. This compelling exhibition, which debuted at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery last year before moving to The Brooklyn Museum, offers an unprecedented survey of nearly 150 years of American art and includes works by masters including Thomas Eakins, John Singer Sargent, Georgia O’Keeffe, Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, and more. This is the first major museum exhibition to focus on sexual difference in the making of modern American portraiture.
“Hide/Seek” considers such themes as the role of sexual difference in depicting modern America; how artists explored the fluidity of sexuality and gender; how major themes in modern art—especially abstraction—were influenced by social marginalization; and how art reflected society’s evolving and changing attitudes toward sexuality, desire, and romantic attachment.
“Tacoma Art Museum is excited to be a part of the national discourse. HIDE/SEEK redefines how modern American portraiture is viewed through the lens of gender and sexuality identity,” says Stephanie A. Stebich, Director of Tacoma Art Museum. “This exhibition comes at a time of historic legislation and we have a rich history of presenting compelling programs that spur ideas and dialogue within our community.”
“All of the works in HIDE/SEEK demonstrate how issues of LGBTQ identity has informed American art. Each work represents how these artists saw themselves within the larger American culture. Thomas Eakins molds beauty and desire into a visual metaphor based on classical antiquity. Cass Bird plays with the fluidity of gender. The stylistic differences from Eakins to Bird explore how individual expression provides the foundations of modern art. [This exhibit] reaffirms the deep and enduring contributions of these influential American artists while simultaneously highlighting their personal experiences as society re-invented itself generation after generation,” says Rock Hushka, TAM’s curator of contemporary and Northwest art. “Importantly, these artists spoke through modernism to declare their identities, historically coded but with increasing boldness and positivity.”
Dr. Jonathan D. Katz, co-curator of HIDE/SEEK: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture, spoke at The Tacoma Art Museum on Thursday, July 28, about the exhibition. In this video Dr. Katz discusses the stories behind a selection of artwork from the exhibition, shares the Fire in My Belly video by David Wojnarowicz, and gives an inside look into what it took to make the exhibition a reality.
Video courtesy of The Tacoma Art Museum
*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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