Charles Leslie and Fritz Lohman have been culling and showcasing gay art in Manhattan for six decades, and the recent expansion of their gallery spaceaccompanied by a refreshingly unconventional exhibition devoted entirely to queer artistsconfirms they have the aesthetic acumen to satisfy both fickle critics and loyal fans of the male physique. Leslie/Lohmans new SoHo spot, a 4,000-square-foot facility designed by architect Anthony Pellino, boasts lots of light, an expansive white oak floor, changing perspectives, and plenty of visual surprisein case you need a distraction from that pretentious dilettante rambling on about how sublime performance art is.
The new gallerys first exhibit, The Culture of Queer: A Tribute to J.B. Harter, is actually a collaborative effort between Leslie/Lohman and the Contemporary Arts Center of New Orleans. After the original homage to Harter was cut short by Hurricane Katrina just 10 days after its opening, Leslie/Lohman joined forces with the CACs curator, David S. Rubin, to resurrect the show. This new incarnation, highlighting work from the late New Orleansbased Harter and some of Louisianas emerging queer artists, features gay standardsmale nude sketches and homoerotic photographyas well as striking mixed-media meditations on gender identity. Maxx Sizelers Subterfuge, for example, consists of a wooden playpen containing a toy army tank with a mobile of blue and pink styrofoam high heels hovering above it. This installation, he notes, suggests how society imposes its view of gender on young children, long before they are verbal and have a chance to form their own ideas. Also noteworthy is Brad Dupuys What Stuff! a painting foregrounding Abraham Lincolns suspected queer side, in which an illustrated five-dollar bill is juxtaposed with an image of present-day queer sunbathers. Perhaps Abe wasnt so honest after all.
The Culture of Queer: A Tribute to J.B. Harter runs through July 1 at the Leslie/Lohman Gay Art Foundation, 26 Wooster St., New York City. Please find more info at LeslieLohman.org.
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