The militant gay movement of the
late 1960's and the 1970's was as much a cultural as a political phenomenon.
Magazines like San Francisco's Gay Sunshine and Milwaukee's GPU
News featured poetry and art. In New York City, site of the Stonewall riots
in mid-1969, Harvey Fierstein, Robert Patrick and Doric Wilson were writing
plays with gay themes, for gay audiences. Gay theater companies like Hot
Peaches, TOSOS (The Other Side of Silence) and the Glines, and gay art
galleries like Stompers and the Leslie-Lohman Gallery sprang up. Gay artists
like Tava, Keith Haring and David Wojnarowitz experimented with new forms of
street art and graffiti.
The four very different artists in our show all
flourished during and shortly after the Gay Liberation period (1968 -
Faerie Swarm on Christopher Street, 1989.
Photo by Ian Young
Sidney Smith (b. 1950) was living in New York City in the 1970's,
working for the independent radio station WBAI. Through his Dragonfly Press, he
published a number of small books of black and white drawings, some forming
brief, textless stories. Most of his work shows children, adolescents, angels
and benign beings from other worlds in attitudes of wonder, innocence and
affection. His art harks back to great black and white illustrators of earlier
times, including Blake, Beardsley, Ralph Chubb, Lynd Ward, Rockwell Kent and
the comic book artists of the 1950's and '60's. A selection of his drawings was
published in 1992 by Entimos Press in Amsterdam.
Three drawings by Sidney Smith
Sid Smith in the mid-1970's
photo by Ian Young
Ralph Hall (1945 - 1988) lived in New York City during the 1970's with
his lover and "spiritual brother" Bob "Flash" Storm. Using an old electric
stencil-maker and a hand-cranked Gestetner machine, they produced the
multi-colored, underground gay "fagazines" Gay Post, Ain't It Da Truth and Faggots on Faggotry, which they sold and gave away on the
street. Hall was self-taught, his art influenced by the psychedelic designs of
the 1960's and the emerging gay movement.
Three drawings by Ralph Hall
Ralph Hall in the mid-1970's
photo by Ian Young
Jesse Murry (1948 -
1993) was born in Fort Bragg, North Carolina and studied at Sarah Lawrence and
Yale. He lived in SoHo and later in the West Village with his lover George
Centanni. Working in watercolours, encaustic, oils and oil crayons, Murry was a
poetic visionary committed to rendering the spiritual forces behind earthly
beauty. His favorite painters included Turner, Constable, Delacroix,
Cézanne, Picasso, Mark Rothko and Casper David Friederich.
Three paintings by Jesse Murry
Jesse Murry in 1992
Bastille (1929 - 1990) was born in Hackensack, New Jersey on 14th July
(Bastille Day). An adopted child, he grew up in Westwood, N.J. He spent much of
his life in Europe where he worked as a fashion illustrator and professional
architectural draftsman. In the early 1980's he took the name "Bastille" and
began creating gouache paintings of skinhead-type men inhabiting a fantasy
world of sleazy, underground sexuality. The paintings shown here originally
appeared in the Swedish magazines Toy and Mr. SM.
gallery includes sexually-themed
images that may not be suitable for all
Three paintings by Bastille