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
If you happened to pass Southern Exposure gallery last weekend on your way to a Mission brunch, you might have wondered about the long line snaking down the block. If you looked closely you probably noticed that each person in the queue clutched a single work of art and wore a hopeful expression. Those were the entrants for Proof, the annual exhibition of work by Northern California artists. The show owes its immense popularity to the facts that submission is free, and absolutely any Californian residing no farther south than King City (halfway between Salinas and San Luis Obispo) may enter one piece, no credentials required. A mere week later the works are on display, each with their own interpretation of the idea of proof and having been chosen in a lickety-split judging process in which all the artists names are kept hidden in the interest of fairness. This years esteemed judge is Denise Markonish, known for her forward-thinking curation at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. She and Southern Exposure really are kindred spirits, committed to art that pushes boundaries and resists easy categorization. Be there for the unveiling of this years selected art, and pick out the Next Big Art Thing.
Tuesdays-Saturdays, 6 p.m. Starts: Sept. 16. Continues through Oct. 8, 2011