LESLIE-LOHMAN MUSEUM: 50 YEARS OF LGBTQ ART

Joan Snyder, Heart On, 1940. Photo by The Untitled Magazine.

Pride month has come and gone, but that doesn’t mean that celebrating the LGBTQ+ community is to be stopped and forgotten until next year. A special museum located right in the heart of SoHo celebrates LGBTQ people every day of the year, and displays the colorful impact they have had and continue to have in the world of art.

Back in the 60s, if someone said that Charles Leslie and Fritz Lohman would be the first and only individuals to open up an LGBTQ art museum, no one would’ve believed it. After crossing boundary-breaking obstacles, the Leslie-Lohman Museum is now the only accredited LGBTQ museum in the world. When Leslie and Lohman met in the 1960s, they started to search for and collect artwork with a strong focus on homoerotic art. Much of the art they collected was considered worthless and shameful at the time, but the sexual revolution and gay advocacy were beginning to rise, bringing attention to homoerotic art and erotic art in general. They hosted their first exhibit the same month of the beginning of the Stonewall Riots. They wanted to show people that there was indeed a want and need for exclusively gay art. Their collection grew exponentially during the AIDS pandemic of the 80s and ultimately began the Leslie-Lohman Gay Art Foundation in 1987.

Leslie-Lohman preserves and welcomes LGBTQ art and is a cultural hub for the community, examining juxtapositions between art and justice in society in a way to provoke thought and conversation, and to provide a home for queer artists to uncover and display their talents. This museum puts a much-needed spotlight on LGBTQ+ artists.

They currently have 3 exhibitions on display- Art after Stonewall, BEING SEEN MAKES A MOVEMENT POSSIBLE, and Y’all Better Quiet Down.

Hal Fischer, Blue Handkerchief, Red Handkerchief, 1977. Photo by The Untitled Magazine.

Art After Stonewall, 1969-1989
On view:
April 24 – July 21

The Leslie-Lohman Museum
26 Wooster Street, New York, NY

Art after Stonewall, 1969-1989, includes over 150 works of LGBTQ art by artists such as Vaginal Davis, Michela Griffo, David Hockney, Greer Lankton, Robert Mapplethorpe, Catherine Opie, and Andy Warhol, and includes the practices of artists like Vito Acconci, Diane Arbus, and Judy Chicago. This exhibition, which was timed with the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, is the first major exhibition to look into the footprint that the LGBTQ civil-rights movement left on the art world. Some of the most important themes that are examined include Coming Out, Sexual Outlaws, The Uses of the Erotic, Gender and Body, Things are Queer, and AIDS and Activism. Organized by the Columbus Museum of Art, and curated by Jonathan Weinberg, Tyler Cann, and Drew Sawyer, this exhibition is on view at the Leslie-Lohman Museum until July 21, 2019.

Buttons from The LGBT Community Center National History Archive. Photo by The Untitled Magazine.

Y’all Better Quiet Down
On view:
June 6 – July 21

The Leslie-Lohman Museum
26 Wooster Street, New York, NY

Curated by Nelson Santos and Jeanne Vaccaro, Y’all Better Quiet Down surveys gay liberation and its role in LGBTQ history. The title of this exhibition comes from a 1973 speech by Sylvia Rivera, a trans activist. Her speech was in response to an anti-trans statement made by Jean O’Leary, a lesbian feminist. Rivera shared her story about how she was beaten and thrown in jail for gay liberation and urged people to understand gay liberation as an intersectional struggle for racial justice, gender self-determination, prison abolition, housing, employment and economic equality. This exhibition displays contemporary art, protest banners, and stories from the New York City Trans Oral History Project. Y’all Better Quiet Down reminds us what showing up and standing up looks like⁠—protests, anger, posters and banners for the cause; a community coming together. It centers on the past and daily legacies and struggles of the LGBTQ liberation movements. This exhibit is open at the Leslie-Lohman museum until July 21, 2019 and is on display at the Bureau of General Services Queer Division at the LGBT Center until September 8, 2019.

Joan E. Biren, BEING SEEN MAKES A MOVEMENT POSSIBLE, 2019. Photo by The Untitled Magazine.

BEING SEEN MAKES A MOVEMENT POSSIBLE, 2019
On view:
June 2019- May 2020
The Leslie-Lohman Museum
26 Wooster Street, New York, NY

Being Seen Makes a Movement Possible, 2019 is the third exhibit being showcased at the Leslie-Lohman Museum. This exhibit can be seen from the outside of the museum in the form of a window installation, with saturated laminated vinyl prints and film and color transparencies. The exhibition spotlights the extensive documentation of the LGBTQ movement filmed by Joan E. Biren. Biren is an internationally recognized documentary artist and was one of the primary photographers to gather awareness to the movement with her capturing footage of the activists. The window installation documents the most important years of LGBTQ. This exhibition will be up until May 2020.

   
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