While they often presented themselves as bodybuilders’ publications, their chuckle-prompting titles — Torso, Adonis, Honcho, Mandate — didn’t lie. Gay men’s magazines of decades past were bought by gay men who wanted to look at the erotic illustrations of well- built male bodies therein. Because any- one known to possess such material in the homophobic 1950s and 1960s could experience serious consequences, men hid the magazines under their mat- tresses. These illustrations have now inspired a traveling exhibition, Stroke: From Under the Mattress to the Museum Wall. Curated by notable erotic artist Robert W. Richards and orig- inating at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, the popular show contains 24 original illustrations that ap- peared in gay magazines from the 1950s to the 1990s. It also looks at how gay men, forced into the closet during those decades, used these pictures to explore their sexuality intimately. It additionally serves as a showcase for the artists in- volved. On view are works by two dozen top artists of the times, including Touko Laaksonen (Tom of Finland), Antonio Lopez (Antonio), and David Martin.More
Coffee loyalty runs deep in San Francisco, and if asked to come up with a choice between Sightglass, Four Barrel, Ritual, or Blue Bottle, we might hiss and run away, flaring our frilled neck like a frightened Aussie lizard.
No one goes to the Moscone Center just to see its bronze bust of the late Mayor George Moscone. Don’t get us wrong, it’s a perfectly nice statue, cast by artist Spero Anargyros. However, it’s no match for the one created by Robert Arneson at the request of the S.F. Arts Commission in 1981. The founder of the Funk Art movement was well known for his irreverent self-portraits in ceramic, a material he liberated from its more traditional, stuffier connotations. Therefore no one should have been surprised by the boldness of his ceramic sculpture, mostly thanks to its graffiti-scrawled pedestal that included references to gunfire, Harvey Milk, and the “Twinkie defense” Moscone’s killer Dan White used in court. The commission returned Arneson’s sculpture after he refused to change it. With his typical sense of humor, Arneson turned the experience into another piece of art, this time in bronze, in which he attached his own head to the body of a dog and scattered bronze poop on the floor. That sculpture, Bowee Wowee, is part of “Robert Arneson: Self-Portraits in Bronze,” a great starting point on your route through the galleries at 49 Geary on First Thursday. Arneson’s pieces address mortality as well, especially as he grappled with terminal cancer. The pedestal of his Portrait at 62 carries a notch for every year of his life, and sadly he never got to make another one. The exhibit demonstrates the artist could sculpt with metal just as masterfully as he did with ceramic, and that even in the face of rejection and fatal illness, he never lost his wit.
Tuesdays-Saturdays. Starts: March 1. Continues through April 28, 2012