Queer: December 2009 Archives

a shot of the crowd before the room filled up yesterday, from a camera held high overhead, feeling the power, and documenting all the super Lesbians, and some very enthusiastic friends and supporters

The entire event was run incredibly well, as efficiently and perhaps more efficiently than many benefits organized by non-profits that have been doing it for years. And we've seen a lot. Barry and I had a blast at yesterday's first ever art benefit for the Lesbian Herstory Archives [LHA], held at the gallery of Alexander Gray Associates.

As the snow began shortly after midday, we were gathered with a lot of other people, many of them friends, many of them heroes known only from a distance, some soon to become friends. We were ten floors above the Hudson River in west Chelsea, and all we had to do was enjoy ourselves; the real champagne; the delicate cookies and savories; emcees Moe Angelos, milDRED, the artist formerly known as DRED, and Kay Turner; the work mounted on the walls; and above all the tonic of a wonderful crowd.

Oh well, we did have to wait a while for our name to be drawn, when we would be able to announce our choice of the art, but the selection was so good there was little reason for anxiety and virtually no chance that anyone would be disappointed.

But a lot of people were saddened to learn that the 80-some tickets for 80-some pieces of art had been sold out early. Many of those couldn't come, and others did come by for the excitement, and to contribute directly to the endowment fund; maybe the LHA should rent an entire armory for their second art benefit.

Elizabeth Bonaventura Untitled, or 2010 Olympic Hopefuls casein paint on inkjet print 2009 8.5" x 11"

We went home with the beautiful paint-on-photograph piece by Lizzie Bonaventura [no link or website] shown above, and we were able to talk to the artist and exchange contact information even before we had a chance to pick her work.

Robert Giard Mabel Hampton Sees the Pigeons at the Old Lesbian Herstory Archive 1989

The archive was somewhere out in Brooklyn, and also, as strange as it may seem today, I was pretty shy.

It was somewhere around 1990, and I had just read about a place called the Lesbian Herstory Archives. Accompanying the story was a picture of this wonderful older black woman sitting in the middle of stacks of books and papers. It was Mabel Hampton. She seemed to belong to the ages already. I was fascinated, and wanted to know more.

I also really wanted to visit the place, but although I was quickly becoming more and more involved with ACT UP, I still didn't think I knew any honest-to-goodness lesbians, at least as friends. I was also scared: The strong women activists I saw all around me were pretty fierce; besides, having grown up as a secret homo in the Midwest in the 40s and 50s, I had to confess I still wasn't even very comfortable with straight women.

I suppose it was pretty stupid, but I was also afraid I would be very much out of place, and perhaps even be challenged by the people who I believed had good reason to be there, unlike me.

I was learning fast (about all kinds of difference), but I wasn't there yet.

That was twenty years ago, and I feel much more comfortable in my own skin, and to my great delight, in every kind of skin. I still haven't been to the permanent home of the Archives, today "a grassroots collection supported by a non-hierarchical women’s collective, available for all Lesbians and housed within a communal, not an academic, setting in a 4-story limestone brownhouse [sic]" (according to Mickey Weems in the Boston Edge). But at noon on Saturday Barry and I are going to begin celebrating my birthday by attending the first ever Art Benefit for the Lesbian Herstory Archives here in Chelsea, before we go off to an equally festive holiday lunch.

Unfortunately, unless you've already purchased one of the 80 tickets (they're already sold out!), you won't be able to go home with a piece of art by one of the artists who is part of their incredible list of donors. Anyone who wishes to attend the event however (I would look forward to the hot crowd as much as a chance to see the art), and support the Archives, can just show up and donate $25 cash, "more or less if", according to the Archives site, at the door. The drawing itself begins at one o'clock.

The event is being held at Alexander Gray Associates, 526 W. 26th Street, and not at the Archives.

[image from the Bulger Gallery]

This page is an archive of entries in the Queer category from December 2009.

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