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Pink & Bent Exhibition of Queer Women
Artists in NYC

Pink & Bent Exhibition of Queer Women
Artists in NYC

New York's Leslie/Lohman Gay Art Foundation is home to a special exhibition called Pink and Bent: The Art of Queer Women until June 28. The exhibition includes photographs, paintings, and installation pieces primarily by queer- and lesbian-identified women. Present are big names like Judy Chicago, Harmony Hammond, and the Guerilla Girls, but finding their place among these well-known artists are rising stars like Deborah Bright and Grace Moon.

New York's Leslie/Lohman Gay Art Foundation is home to a special exhibition called Pink and Bent: The Art of Queer Women until June 28. The exhibition includes photographs, paintings, and installation pieces primarily by queer- and lesbian-identified women. Present are big names like Judy Chicago, Harmony Hammond, and the Guerilla Girls, but finding their place among these well-known artists are rising stars like Deborah Bright and Grace Moon.

The importance of a show like this is not lost on the contributing artists. Sophia Wallace, whose portraits of butch women are included in the exhibition, said, "There's just very few venues and opportunities for queer women to show their work. Especially when [the work] is about queer female issues, it's marginalized."

Wallace's photograph "Helen, Brooklyn" focuses on a Jodie Foster look-alike with an Elvis pompadour, flanked by a setting sun and an American flag, the city skyline behind her. According to Wallace, she is attempting to photograph a more diverse section of the lesbian community. "I don't think that butch women have been photographed in the way that I photograph them," she said. "I'm pushing for quality."

Pilar Gallego, one of the show's cocurators, echoed Wallace's concerns about the lack of attention that innately queer art receives. "Queer women shows don't come around often, especially those that deal with the experience of being queer. It's [usually] censored, put away," she said, taking care to emphasize the show's "political as well as artistic stance."

Grace Moon, whose paintings "Nicole and Julie" and "Lauren and Jennie" are currently on display as part of the exhibition, thinks of the show as having "picked up a conversation that has already been started. It's part of an ongoing message." That message? "I think there is power in numbers," Moon said.

Moon's paintings mimic covers of lesbian pulp fiction books from the '50s and '60s, taking captions directly from the novel covers. "The Novel of a Love That Society Forbids," read the block letters in "Nicole and Julie." The painting is almost entirely Norman Rockwell-esque, except that the two butch women happen to be caressing one another underneath their three-piece suits. But Moon rejects the Rockwell connection and offers a different lens for her work. Referencing the borrowed pulp-fiction captions, Moon says her paintings are not political statements so much as modern-day reinterpretations of queer artifacts. "When you recast something in contemporary art, you [have to] read it in that perspective," she suggests.

While featuring a roster made up almost completely of female artists, the Pink and Bent show does, however, include one piece by a biological man. George Dudley's "L.E.S.B.I.A.N." stands by the door. The seven wooden letters, about 2 1/2 feet wide and just as tall, are worn and cracked but just as significant as when Dudley presented them for his master's thesis at the Maryland Institute of Art in 1976. According to Gallego, Dudley's piece was included not only because it was "great in itself, but this was also a gay man having his artwork offer visibility to queer allies."

The foundation, which has been a public, nonprofit foundation since 1990, saw what might be its largest crowd ever at Pink and Bent's opening night on May 20. It's located at 26 Wooster St. in New York City. (Hannah Clay Wareham, The Advocate)

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