Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

Everything Everywhere Eyes

March 14, 2023

The eyes have it. First time seeing this poster today. How can I not share it?

No Straight Lines

February 1, 2023

Outstanding documentary No Straight Lines from PBS’s Independent Lens profiles the past 40 years of Queer Comics from underground to mainstream. Directed by out lesbian filmmaker Vivian Kleinman and based on the book by producer/writer/professor Justin Hall. From PBS,

When Alison Bechdel received a coveted MacArthur Award for her best-selling graphic memoir Fun Home, it heralded the acceptance of LGBTQ+ comics in American culture. From DIY underground comix scene to mainstream acceptance, meet five smart and funny queer comic book artists whose uncensored commentary left no topic untouched and explored art as a tool for social change. Featuring Alison Bechdel, Jennifer Camper, Howard Cruse, Rupert Kinnard, Mary Wings, and other queer comics artists.

The Filmmakers
Vivian Kleiman
Director/Producer Vivian Kleiman is a Peabody Award-winning filmmaker and a Fleishhacker Eureka Fellowship artist. She was the story editor for Wu-Tang Clan: Of Mics and Men, and her work with landmark filmmaker Marlon Riggs includes Tongues Untied, among others. She taught at Stanford University’s Graduate Program in Documentary Film.

Justin Hall
Producer Justin Hall edited the Lambda Award-winning, Eisner-nominated No Straight Lines: Four Decades of Queer Comics and created the comics True Travel Tales, Hard to Swallow. Hall is chair of the MFA in Comics Program at California College of the Arts, the first Fulbright Scholar of comics, and has curated international exhibitions of comics art.

Really worth watching. When you worry that we haven’t made progress over the past 50 years, this puts it all into perspective. Yes, we’re facing book bans and all the horror of “Don’t Say Gay” in Florida and other ignorant states, but we will not be shoved back in the closet. These artists remind us all to use the tools at our disposal to fight back and demand a place at the table. Hey DeSantis – Joe McCarthy died over 60 years ago. Your hatred and bigotry are the last gasps of the patriarchy. Watch No Straight Lines and feel the power. 5 out of 5.

No Straight Lines currently streams on PBS.
Listen to Vivian Kleinman interview on Brad Shreve’s Queer We Are podcast.

It’s A Lot Like Falling in Love: Legacies of Naiad Press and the Tallahassee Lesbian Community (Naiad Press)

September 29, 2022

Florida State University’s College of Fine Arts currently has a great exhibition on a local Tallahassee independent publisher from the late 20th Century. From Wikipedia,

Naiad Press (1973–2003) was an American publishing company, one of the first dedicated to lesbian literature. At its closing it was the oldest and largest lesbian/feminist publisher in the world.

Earlier in the year, I did a presentation on LGBT Literature and spoke of the influence of Naiad Press on the industry. Thrilled to see this exhibition honoring the work of the women involved in Naiad. And isn’t it great to see good things are still happening in Florida.

Read all about the exhibition running through October 29, 2022.
Listen to oral history interviews from Naiad along with other Tallahassee LGBTQ community members.
Browse Florida State University’s Museum of Fine Arts.
Read 430 Naiad publications for free on Open Library.

Thanks to my dear friend Uncle Barb for sending this link to me.

The Andy Warhol Diaries

April 1, 2022

I had no idea I needed The Andy Warhol Diaries. Truth be told, I am not a huge Warhol fan. I get some of his work, but not all of it. I respect his work ethic and creative drive. And I understand the idea of pop culture and product as art. I do get that. I just never related much to the Warhol mystique. Ryan Murphy’s The Andy Warhol Diaries uses Pat Hackett’s edited book by the same name as source material. But instead of focusing only on his art, the docu-series successfully unpacks Warhol’s romantic relationships with several men throughout his life, showing a tender, emotive side to the public emotionally distant and calculating artist. All that was great, but the truly wonderful thing about the series, was they didn’t shy away from Warhol’s internalized homophobia, his close gay friends internalized homophobia, such as Bob Colacello and Christopher Makos, and his obvious snobbery about anything as ordinary as gay men who don’t look like 80’s WASPs. And more kudos for unpacking Andy’s disregard for AIDS activism as well as his fear of catching AIDS. Sometimes this information is dolled out as brutal fact, sometimes it’s gently looked at from various facets including his age, his upbringing, the time period, and the crowd he hung out with. Loved talking heads including Jessica Beck, Glenn Ligon, Vincent Fremont, Kenny Scharf, Jay Gould, Michael Chow, Benjamin Liu, Andre Walker, Mariel Hemingway, Alan Wanzenberg, and John Waters. All of this combines to provide the viewer with an especially interesting and unique look at the artist, his persona, but mostly Andy Warhol as a gay man, a human being. I was fascinated through all five episodes. Bravo. 4 out of 5.

The Andy Warhol Diaries docu-series currently streams on Netflix.

Donnie Darko Framed

August 13, 2021

Regular Reel Charlie readers know how much I love the film, Donnie Darko. So much so I splurged this year on Arrow Films 4K disk edition of this modern classic. Inside amongst the extras was a double-sided fold-out poster featuring newly commissioned artwork by Luke Preece. I selected the side with Roberta Sparrow – Grandma Death peering into her mailbox. I framed it and hung it above my disk collection. Most of the artist’s work focuses on heavy metal bands. His styling for the Roberta Sparrow image reminds me of an old school science fiction book cover. Haunting and futuristic. Note regarding my photos: the print was folded, but the lines shown are mostly a reflection from the ceiling tiles. It’s pretty smooth in real life.

The first thing I thought of when I unboxed the 4K set was I have to frame Roberta. Done.

Wojnarowicz: F**k You F*ggot F**ker

April 19, 2021

The first thing you need to understand about the remarkable documentary, Wojnarowicz: F**k You F*ggot F**ker is that the title itself seems to have been censored. Named for David Wojnarowicz’s incredible art piece created in 1984, the asterisks inserted remind us we can’t seem to publish certain words in the media, which is absurd because they are words and they exist. Wojnarowicz was gay. He used the title ironically. And ironically the film is now being marketed and reviewed as simply, Wojnarowicz. I don’t have a problem with a softer touch to get the word out, but anyone interested in a film about David Wojnarowicz’s art is not going to be offended by the asterisked words fuck, faggot, or fucker. They will immediately understand. And those who are new to his art will get it after experiencing his work within the remarkable documentary created by Chris McKim. I am especially angry at the cowardly and always two steps behind New York Times who gave a glowing review of the film only using David’s last name and identifying the title piece as “a still from the documentary,” instead of using the name. Fuck You, NY Times Faggot Fucker.

I have loved David’s work for many years. It speaks to me specifically as a gay man and intimately as a gay man who has survived AIDS. He was self-taught until he met friends and lovers who inspired him and his art. He took all the trauma he experienced as a child and poured it into his work. And when AIDS reared its ugly head, he used his art as a call to arms. He was angry about homophobia, he was angry about the rich and our complacent society. My favorite quote from David which appears in the film is, “I’m not gay as in I love you, I’m queer as in fuck off.” But as that anger and rage fueled his creative energy, he also had relationships – friendships and love affairs with many people. And as his work became increasingly noticed, he struggled with his hatred of capitalism and the need to survive. The film goes on to say that as many East Village artists became known to uptown buyers during the 1980’s, David and his former lover and dear friend Peter Hujar seemed to be the only two in their circle who didn’t court the money. David died when he was 37 in 1992 due to complications from AIDS. I can’t help but wonder what he would have done had he been given more time. But damn if he didn’t create an amazing body of work in less than 20 years. One of the best things about the film is the high def detail of his work. Toward the end of his life, his work became more sophisticated. To quote Dennis, my movie buddy – “more finished.” There was a roughness to his earlier collage work which I love. But his later work focused more on painting and beauty. I am in awe of his life and his work as an artist. He lived life on his own terms and did what he needed to do to heal from his childhood wounds. He also used his platform to discuss injustice on many levels. If you are unfamiliar with his work, the documentary will be a great introduction. If you know his work, you’ll be blown away at the detail and care the filmmaker takes to present David for today and for generations to come. 5 out of 5.

Wojnarowicz: F*ck You F*ggot F**ker is currently on the indie film circuit and is available to stream for a rental fee on Kino Now.

Learn more about David Wojnarowicz’ Whitney exhibition.
Peruse The Estate of David Wojnarowicz.
Browse The Peter Hujar Archive.

David Wojnarowicz (1954–1992), Fuck You Faggot Fucker, 1984. Four black-and-white photographs, acrylic, and collaged paper on Masonite, 48 × 48 in. (121.9 × 121.9 cm). Collection of Barry Blinderman. Image courtesy Barry Blinderman, Normal, Illinois, photograph by Jason Judd

Reel Charlie’s favorite Wojnarowicz.

Justin Vivian Bond and David Hoyle in Conversation (Happy Valley Pride)

March 14, 2021

‘Justin Vivian Bond is a trans-atlantic cabaret messiah’ – Time Out.
A trans pioneer and Tony nominated icon of New York’s cabaret scene Justin Vivian Bond has toured worldwide headlining at Carnegie Hall and the Sydney Opera House. As one half of punk-cabaret duo Kiki & Herb they toured with Scissor Sisters and opened for Rufus Wainwright.
Viv has appeared in many feature films playing a leading role in John Cameron Mitchell’s Shortbus. A tireless campaigner for trans rights they pioneered the use of the pronoun Mx.

‘Glorious, extremely funny and properly unique’ – The Guardian on David Hoyle.
Post-drag, post-gender, Manchester’s David Hoyle is a legendary fireball of the cabaret apocalypse!
Since the 90’s David has been changing the face of queer performance, his career has spanned cinema, television and award winning live performances which have influenced generations of performers after him.
He fronted his own Channel 4 TV show, dueted with Boy George and appeared in the TV series Nathan Barley. David regularly exhibits his paintings and tours worldwide.
Sunday 28th February at 8pm.

Brought to you by Happy Valley Pride on Facebook – no that’s not Penn State Happy Valley, it’s Hebden Bridge, west of Leeds in the U.K.
Recorded on Facebook Live: Sunday 28th February at 8pm.

An absolute treat listening to these two performers speak from their hearts about all of life’s mysteries. I miss V’s live performances. Something to look forward to once the world opens back up. Meanwhile, sit back and prepare for the awe.

One Book One Town Author Talk Signature Event with Ibi Zoboi & Dr. Yusef Salaam @ibizoboi @dr_yusefsalaam

February 28, 2021

Each year my Fairfield Public Library colleagues work so very hard to create a One Book, One Town reading event for the town of Fairfield, CT. – the signature event of Fairfield’s One Book One Town 2021 celebration! Join us for a wonderful evening with the authors of Punching the Air, Ibi Zoboi and Dr. Yusef Salaam. The story of a tragic event leading to an unjust imprisonment and the impact it has on family and community, Punching the Air shows how strength can be found in the power of art and poetry. Ibi Zoboi is a New York Times bestselling author; Dr. Yusef Salaam, of the Exonerated Five, is a poet, prison reform activist and inspirational speaker.

Click here to register in order to receive the zoom link for the event.


February 3, 2021

Filmmaker Amanda Sthers’ Madame from 2017 comes to Amazon Prime. I thought this was a brand-new film. Didn’t realize it was from four years ago. It’s an odd sort of tale while being intriguing. An aging trophy wife played by Toni Colette has a dinner party at her husband’s family home in Paris. At the last minute, there’s an odd number guests and so she enlists the help of her maid to round the number out to 14. The maid, played to perfection by Almodovar actress’ Rossy de Palma ends up catching the eye of a wealthy businessman (Michael Smiley) and proceeds to have an affair with him. The secret must be kept because Smiley’s character, an art broker is assisting with a rare art sale from the family home. And so begins the chase by Colette’s character to thwart the budding romance and keep the sale intact. In fact the plot really turns into a duel between the two women. Colette’s character playing the aggressor. Palma’s character playing the innocent. The premise is all kinds of fascinating. And it sort of works. But doesn’t exactly reach any sort of fevered pitch. Instead there are two scenes right before the end that confused this viewer making me wonder what really happened. Still it’s an international film full of gorgeous Parisian architecture and property with a cast full of promise. 3.5 out of 5.

Madame currently streams on Amazon Prime.

Ink Master: Season 1; Episodes 1 & 2

December 19, 2020

I know, I know. I have zero tattoos. So why would I watch a tattoo competition show called Ink Master? Because it’s on? Because surfing Netflix is the same as surfing cable used to be except you can start at the beginning of a show. I caught two episodes of Ink Master which takes place in New York City, follows a tried and true competition trope, and stars judges Dave Navarro (yes, of Jane’s Addiction, the Red Hot Chili Peppers), and master tattooists Chris Nunez, and Oliver Peck. The ten contestants tackle two challenges each episode with one person eliminated at the end. Sound familiar? It is standard competition fare. The show premiered on SpikeTV which is now Paramount Network. Wait I literally just found out the show’s been on the air for 13 seasons. I watched Season 1 on Netflix from back in 2012. Time warp. Ok, I’m officially old, but still hip enough to give a tattoo show a go. It was fun, silly, with lots of created drama. If you have any interest in the art of tattooing, it is worth checking this show out. Although the women in season 1 were crazy unrepresented. Not sure what that was all about. 3 out of 5.

Ink Master currently streams on Netflix.

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