The Getty Goes Gay: Cruising the Archives
BY Phil Tarley
January 20 2012 5:00 AM ET
As part of “Pacific Standard Time,” an epic survey initiated by the Getty Foundation of postwar works that created and defined Los Angeles’s potent modern art scene, comes a not-to-be-missed collection of seminal art, “Cruising the Archive: Queer Art and Culture in Los Angeles, 1945-1980.”
Funded in part with a $50,000 grant from the Andy Warhol Foundation and curated from the gargantuan collection of the One National Gay and Lesbian Archives, this eclectic, poignant, and most often whimsical exhibition is spread over three venues.
“Wink Wink,” in One’s West Hollywood gallery, is a tasty tease of sexy paintings, wickedly sinful and potently political videos, plenty of penis on paper, and many sweet lesbian portraits. A brilliant black-and-white Steven Arnold photograph and a Cyclona pink-painted drag queen are two showstoppers, and Don Bachardy’s giant phosphorescent acrylic of Keith Coleman is another treat to behold.
“Rare Looks,” a companion show, has been mounted at One’s downtown University of Southern California venue, its main archives, library, and offices. This show, with many smaller works on paper, also looks at gay and lesbian Los Angeles art of the mid-to-late 20th century and includes some artifacts as well.
The third and final show in One’s troika, “Queer Worldmaking,” opens this month at the Doheny Memorial Library at USC and will be made up largely of documents, photographs, and ephemera, including local gay publications, stage costumes, and Radical Faerie masks. There will be some related public programs, including a conversation with artist Don Bachardy March 27. A brilliant painter, Bachardy struggled for 20 years to emerge from the shadow of his world-famous lover, the writer Christopher Isherwood, and become known for his masterful portraiture.
“Wink Wink” will run through April 1 and the other shows until the end of May.