Lesbians Seeing Lesbians – Artist & Curator Panel Discussion

Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art has launched a videostream at Vimeo and I would like to recommend their videos documenting a panel debate held alongside the museum’s inaugural show in 2011:

Lesbians Seeing Lesbians – Artist & Curator Panel Discussion (part 1) and part 2 of the panel debate.

These two videos present excerpts from the Artist & Curator Panel Discussion for the Lesbians Seeing Lesbians: Building Community in Early Feminist Photography exhibition at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, September 14 – October 22, 2011. Curators Jonathan David Katz and Ilana Eliot talk with artists Cathy Cade and JEB (Joan E. Birnen).

Related Links

Press release: New York: Lesbians Seeing Lesbians

New York: Creating A Queer Museum at Leslie-Lohman

Sleeping Church Nude by Marion Pinto, 1974

Marion Pinto, Sleeping Church Nude, 1974, Oil on canvas, 71.75 x 79.75″

Press release

Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art presents
    
Creating A Queer Museum
December 14, 2011 – January 28, 2012
26 Wooster Street
(between Canal & Grand)
New York, NY 10013, USA

Opening Reception 
Tuesday, December 13; 6-8 pm

Creating A Queer Museum is an exhibition that celebrates the transformation of the Leslie/Lohman Gay Art Foundation into the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art. By recent declaration of the Board of Regents of the State of New York, we have become the first, and thus far only, museum in the world dedicated to exhibiting and preserving LGBTQ art and artists.

Art in this exhibition highlights some the most significant works that have been part of our established collection for many years, as well as recent purchases and valuable gifts. We will also be showcasing three of the most significant recent donations to the Museum; the works of Sherwin Carlquist, Amos Badertscher and Marion Pinto.

About Marion Pinto
Painter Marion Pinto (1935-2010), born and raised in New York City had the first one-woman show ever mounted at the Leslie-Lohman Gallery in 1975 entitled Man As A Sex Object. Creating A Queer Museum includes works from that show as well as number of her female nudes.

About Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art
The museum’s press release reads: “The Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art includes a permanent collection of over 6,000 works. For Creating A Queer Museum, we have pulled representative selections by such notable artists as Wilhelm Von Gloeden, Robert Mapplethorpe, JEB (Joan E. Biren), Keith Haring, Peter Hujar, Andy Warhol, Catherine Opie, Minor White and Tee A. Corrine, along with other works by celebrated queer artists. This collection, while rich in established names, also includes works by a number of emerging, unknown figures, many of whom, by virtue of their subject matter, have found it difficult to show in mainstream venues. The new Museum will mount historical, thematic, and survey exhibitions drawn not only from its permanent collection but also from museums and private collections around the world. It opened as a Museum in September 2011 with the exhibition entitled Lesbians Seeing Lesbians: Building Community in Early Feminist Photography.

Though newly accredited as the first dedicated LGBTQ art museum in the world, the Leslie/Lohman Gay Art Foundation, founded by Charles W. Leslie and Fritz Lohman, has for more than 20 years, persevered in its mission to exhibit, preserve and foster the works of LGBTQ art and artists. A non-profit, membership organization, the Museum is committed to offering all of its exhibitions with no admission charge. We encourage individuals and the community to join us in creating an institution that does what far too little of the New York art museums have dared to do — articulate the historical and continuing queer presence in the American art world.

Even well before the cultural wars of the mid 1980′s, the representation of sexual difference in art has been aggressively policed. And America’s museums, with few notable exceptions, have been silent in the face of what is now the most vocal contemporary civil rights frontier. But there has never been a shortage of LGBTQ art on display in America’s museums; what has been lacking is the courage to articulate that fact. The Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art will finally speak what has been hiding in plain sight.”

New York: Lesbians Seeing Lesbians

Press release from The Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art

Lesbians Seeing Lesbians

Building Community in Early Feminist Photography

Exhibition Ends October 22, 2011 at the Leslie-Lohman Gallery, 26 Wooster Street, NYC, USA

Self-portrait by Tee Corrine, 1980

Tee Corrine, Self-portrait, Gelatin silver print, 1980. Press photo courtesy of Leslie-Lohman Gallery.

In the wake of the Civil Rights movement, the 1970s brought a feminist revolution with lesbians, not always acceptably, to the forefront. In pursuit of personal and political liberation, lesbians photographed each other within an emerging lesbian feminist community, asserting their right to self-representation within a context of straight men, gay men and straight women. They gave widespread visibility to a new social ideal, born of that defining lesbian feminist notion asking, “Since women are no longer defined as accessories to men, what can, and should, a feminist society be?”

Lesbians Seeing Lesbians: building community in early feminist photography focuses on three of the most prominent photographers of this early generation: Tee A. Corrine (1943-2006: St. Petersburg, Florida), JEB (Joan E. Biren, b.1944: Washington D.C.), and Cathy Cade (b.1942: Honolulu, Hawaii). In addition, this exhibition pays tribute to these pioneering women by showing work of contemporary lesbian photographers including Catherine Opie and Cass Bird that engages and reworks their founding vision in contemporary lesbian life. This exhibition also includes key documents of the lesbian feminist and lesbian separatist movements.

Related Links

Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art
Read more about Lesbians Seeing Lesbians

Lesbian Art Herstory: Lesbians Seeing Lesbians

Press release from Leslie/Lohman Gallery

Lesbians Seeing Lesbians

Building Community in Early Feminist Photography

Exhibition Dates: September 14 to October 22, 2011
Opening Reception: September 13; 6 – 8 PM
at the Leslie/Lohman Gallery, 26 Wooster St., New York, NY, USA
Panel Discussion: September 15, 6-8 PM at the Leslie/Lohman Gallery featuring JEB and Cathy Cade, moderated by the exhibition curators Ilana Eloit, Julia Haas and Jonathan David Katz.

[August 2011 – New York, NY] In the wake of the Civil Rights movement, the 1970s brought a feminist revolution with lesbians, not always acceptably, to the forefront. In pursuit of personal and political liberation, lesbians photographed each other within an emerging lesbian feminist community, asserting their right to self-representation within a context of straight men, gay men and straight women.

Lesbians Seeing Lesbians

focuses on three of the most prominent photographers of this early generation: Tee A. Corrine (1943-2006: St. Petersburg, Florida), JEB (Joan E. Biren, b.1944: Washington D.C.), and Cathy Cade (b.1942: Honolulu, Hawaii). In addition, this exhibition pays tribute to these pioneering women by showing work of contemporary lesbian photographers Cass Bird, Angela Jimenez, Zanele Muholi and Catherine Opie, that engages and reworks their founding vision in contemporary lesbian life. This exhibition also includes key documents of the lesbian feminist and lesbian separatist movements from the Lesbian Herstory Archives.

Resisting the traditional heterosexist objectification of the female body, early lesbian photographers such as Tee Corrine, JEB and Cathy Cade reworked the representation of women in a new key, one that stressed not only the erotic allure of the female form, but its capacity to build, to nurture, and, not least, to resist. They gave widespread visibility to a new social ideal, born of that defining lesbian feminist notion that asked,

“Since women are no longer defined as accessories to men, what can, and should, a feminist society be?”

Panel Discussion September 15, 2011

This exhibition runs from September 14 through October 22, 2011 at the Leslie/Lohman Gallery, 26 Wooster Street, New York, NY. There will be an Opening Reception held on September 13 from 6 -8 pm in the gallery. On September 15, a panel discussion will be held from 6-8 PM at the Leslie/Lohman Gallery featuring JEB and Cathy Cade, moderated by the exhibition curators Ilana Eloit, Julia Haas and Jonathan David Katz.

About the Leslie/Lohman Gay Art Foundation

For more than 20 years, the Leslie/Lohman Gay Art Foundation’s (LLGAF) mission has been to preserve, exhibit and foster the creation of art that is created by LGBTQ artists or which speaks directly to gay and lesbian sensibilities, including erotic, political, romantic, and social imagery that resonates of queer experience. As we look to the future, our plan is to continue this mission and expand our programs and outreach to the community with the establishment of the Leslie/Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art.

Established as a non-profit organization in 1990, LLGAF has a permanent collection of more than 6,000 objects spanning more than three centuries of queer art. Our programs include regularly scheduled exhibitions, video events, workshop presentation of plays, artists’ and curator’s talks, panel discussions, THE ARCHIVE – a quarterly newsletter focusing on LGBTQ art and artists, a membership program, a research library and an archive of the permanent collection. LLGAF is the premier resource for anyone interested in the rich legacy of the LGBTQ community and its influence on and confrontation with the mainstream art world. There is no other organization in the world like us.

Related Links

Previous posts at Feminine Moments:

About Zanele Muholi: Inkanyiso by Queer Photographer Zanele Muholi, Zanele Muholi Show in Amsterdam 2010, Zanele Muholi on Swedish National TV, Zanele Muholi A Visual Artist and Activist and African Artist Creates New Strategies For Survival In Australia

About Angela Jimenez: Angela Jimenez Photography and Book: WELCOME HOME: Building the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival by Angela Jimenez

About Cass Bird: Artist talk: Queer Photographer Cass Bird

About Catherine Opie: Lesbian Art Herstory: Catherine Opie And Her Retrospective At the Guggenheim and Catherine Opie on New Topographics

About Tee A. Corrine: Remembering Lesbian Photographer Tee Corrine

Lesbian Art Herstory: The Lesbian Art Project and GALAS

Text by Birthe Havmoeller, January 28, 2011

Illustration for the Lesbian Art Project by Terry Wolverton

Illustration for the ‘Lesbian Art Project’ (LAP) by Terry Wolverton, 1978

I have been looking back at lesbian art projects and exhibitions in the late 1970s, when lesbian artists began to fight for their seat in history and took the first steps on the way to raising public awareness of lesbian art as something more than a hidden subcultural phenomenon. Two important projects at the Woman’s Building in Los Angeles, USA, pop up as major events in my lesbian art herstory: The Lesbian Art Project and GALAS.

The Lesbian Art Project (or LAP) was founded by art historian Arlene Raven in 1977 as a project of the Woman’s Building, a feminist art organization she had co-founded. She wanted to conduct art historical research about lesbian artists. She was joined by a group of her students (Kathleen Berg, Nancy Fried, Sharon Immergluck, Maya Sterling, and Terry Wolverton) who called themselves the Natalie Barney Collective and who expanded the scope of the project to include art projects, educational workshops and events. In 1978 and 1979, the project was co-directed by Raven and Wolverton.
In her book Insurgent Muse: Life and Art at the Woman’s Building (City Lights Publishers 2002) Terry Wolverton gives a very personal and heartfelt narration of her work with The Lesbian Art Project, an endeavor which she describes as “consisting of equal parts art historical research, community building, activism, group therapy, heavy partying, and the kind of life-as-art performance sensibility inherited from the Fluxus artists and so prevalent in Southern California art of the 1970s.”

Stereotypes and norms were a good material for art at the end of the 1970s. In a pair of images shot by photographer EK Waller from the beginning of the Lesbian Art Project you see the Collective first dressed up as “butch” and then as “femme” – however they were not identifying themselves as either butch or femme, as who wants to live a stereotype?
Terry says in the book: “We are after nothing less than an exploration of the meaning(s) of ‘lesbian,’” and the collective “imagine[s] the Lesbian Art Project as a springboard from which to launch a reinvention of the lesbian community.”

They felt a need for a platform and context in which their works could be produced and understood and they set about to create just that through investigating their own lives and experiences as lesbians as in those days all feminists felt that the personal is political. Forming a community and being a family was also very important to them.

LAP launched worksharing groups in which lesbian artists could present their work to others for feedback and dialogue, consciousness-raising groups around specifically lesbian topics and a second hand clothes shop to raise money for the Woman’s Building.

In its second year, LAP was reinvented. Theorizing about the roles of lesbian artists Terry articulates a new vision of lesbian community, mapping archetypes within a lesbian community: The Organizer, The Visionary, The Artist, The Mentor, The Mother and the Lover (see the above illustration). Terry tells that they launched a “Program of Sapphic Education to not only inspire art making, but to build lesbian consciousness and community, and the six symbols are my attempt to identify the archetypal functions required to fulfill this vision.”

In 1979, when lesbian visibility still not was safe, it was a time for dykes to party: “A heart-shaped pillow sheathed in pink lamé [designed by Nancy Fried]. One of the dozens that festooned the Woman’s Building performance space for LAP’s “Dyke of Your Dreams Day” dance, our own saucy retort to the rituals of Saint Valentine. Though we disdain the culture of heterosexuality, we still feel free to steal whatever seems useful and transform it as we see fit.”

Later the same year they created An Oral Herstory of Lesbianism, a big performance piece collaboratively created by thirteen lesbians through a three-month process of workshops, conducted by Terry. The sessions utilized theater games, writing exercises, and consciousness-raising to explore our experience as lesbians. An Oral Herstory of Lesbianism took place at the Woman’s Building, set in a pink gauze performance space. The 13 performances constituted the last art event created by LAP.

In Spring 1980 Terry Wolverton went on to help organize (with a collective that also included Tyaga, its founder, Jody Hoeninger, Bia Lowe, Louise Moore, and Ba Stopha) the Great American Lesbian Art Show (GALAS) at the Woman’s Building featuring works by out artists: Lula Mae Blocton, Tee Corinne, Betsy Damon, Louise Fishman, Nancy Fried, Harmony Hammond, Debbie Jones, Lili Lakich, Gloria Longval and Kate Millett.

Terry writes: “GALAS is not simply this exhibit, but a yearlong project to bring national recognition to lesbian art and artists. It is the brainchild of the artist Tyaga, an openfaced blonde with a crew cut. She has assembled a collective of women to plan a national exhibition of lesbian art. Inspired, without question, by the Lesbian Art Project, GALAS sprang up in the wake of LAP’s demise. In addition to expected locations such as New York, San Francisco, Boston, and Chicago, there were also shows in Bozeman, Montana; Winter Park, Florida; Lawrence, Kansas; Alexandria, Virginia; and Anchorage, Alaska.” The show got a feature article and a review in the Los Angeles Times, and a review in Artweek. It was the first time that lesbian art got this kind of mainstream recognition.

Later that year a presidential election turned the lesbian artists’ ‘revolution’ upside down. “The disappearance of arts funding [in the 1980s] and the emergence of economic hard times [sent] the Woman’s Building scrambling for the cover of mainstream respectability, making us think twice before using the word ‘feminist,’ let alone ‘lesbian,’ in grant proposals, brochures, or exhibitions.” And the next explicitly lesbian art show was not opened in Los Angeles until ten year later in 1990: All But the Obvious, curated by Pam Gregg, – a show featuring visual art, writing, perfomance and video with works by Laura Aguilar, Janet Cooling, Catherine Opie, Millie Wilson, Kaucyila Brooke, Della Grace, Nancy Rosenblum, Tracy Mostovoy, Collier Schorr, Laurel Beckman, Beverly Rhoads, Catherine Saalfield, Jacqueline Woodson, Gaye Chan, and Monica Majoli.

‘All But the Obvious’ opened at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE) in Los Angeles, and the Lesbian Art Project and GALAS was forgotten by that time, as Terry discovered when she interviewed the new generation of queer female artists (of the All But the Obvious group exhibition). None of the emerging artists in 1990 had heard about their creative feminist sisters/colleagues of the 1970s. Oral herstory is not an integrated thing in the (visual) world of a lesbian artist community scattered all over USA.

Insurgent Muse: Life and Art at the Woman's Building
I guess that we are still fighting for our place in the mainstream art history and I hope that this post has made you so curious about Terry Wolverton’s book that you will go and order your own copy. I also suggest that you listen to the ‘WACK! Audio Tour: Lesbian Art Project, Carolee Schneemann, Suzy Lake, Judith F. Baca’ by Terry Wolverton.

Details about the book:
Insurgent Muse: Life and Art at the Woman’s Building by Terry Wolverton
Publisher: City Lights Publishers (August 1, 2002)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0872864030
ISBN-13: 978-0872864030

Related Link
Terry Wolverton’s website
The Woman’s Building – an online archive