The Queer Art canon in Southern California is thriving right now, an area of activity within the art realm that is branching from visual art to performance art and all other arenas as a result of the city being so diverse and welcoming, almost like the Ellis Island of the twenty first century. We welcome all ethnicities, all genders, all sexuality: Los Angeles is a land that allows you to be whatever you want professionally, physically, artistically, even sexually. In a way, it is the most American city. ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives and ONE Archives Gallery & Museum have two concurrent shows that showcase queer art at the mid-century mark, sharing the place of LGBTQ art within the context of Pacific Standard Time.
Each ONE Archives location has a completely different show functioning under the umbrella of Cruising The Archive: Queer Art And Culture, 1945 – 1980. The Archives in West Hollywood has Wink Wink, a show that places “emphasis on social scenes, queer humor, playfulness, and abstraction” in the landscape of Southern California art. The show is quite lighthearted, sharing the history of local LGBTQ artists and persons through their art, many of which could blur into funny territories. Wink Wink almost sets the visual backdrop for the two shows, detailing the social landscape artists like McAlister, Sidney Bronstein, and John Quitman played in.
Rare Looks, which is open longer than Wink Wink and held at the ONE Archives’s Exposition Park location, is more about context, placing the other show within the world surrounding it. This show has art ranging from drawings to painting but also emphasizes the importance of covers from ONE Magazine, protest flyers, photos from protests, and even texts written at the time, giving commentary on the whole situation. This is the more “serious” show, one photo even showing protestors in Silver Lake in front of the historic Black Cat Tavern, a spot that is now a historical monument but–sadly–no longer in business. It features artists that are also in Wink Wink like Mundo Meza, John Quitman, Sidney Bronstein, and Rudi Gernreich among others like Sister Corita Kent, Lisa Moschini, and many “unknown” artists.”
For more on Cruising The Archive, check out Pacific Standard Time’s Blog!