LGBTQ History Month 2019
Dr. Jordana Pomeroy
Art after Stonewall, 1969-1989
The exhibition was organized by the Columbus Museum of Art, and was curated by the artist and art historian Jonathan Weinberg, with Daniel Marcus and Drew Sawyer.
Honouring the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Uprisings. First Major National Exhibition of its Kind, will Headline Art Basel Season at the Frost Art Museum FIU 2019. Miami is One of Only Three Cities to Host this Groundbreaking Tour de Force.
Hello Dr. Pomeroy during Pride Month it was announced that the Frost Art Museum FIU will be 1 of only 3 museums to host the Art after Stonewall, 1969-1989, how does it feel be able to share this news with the world?
As the Director of the Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum at Florida International University, I felt that hosting this exhibition was important for the museum and the University as we are a diverse and inclusive community. Miami has a long and vibrant gay history and a global reputation for that history. As part of an inclusive university as well as Miami’s cultural landscape, the Frost Art Museum is the perfect venue for sharing the riches contained in this exhibition.
How did you get involved in bringing this exhibition to the Frost Art Museum FIU?
Columbus Museum of Art, the exhibition’s organizing institution, approached me directly as they knew the fine reputation of the Frost Art Museum and they wanted to see the exhibition travel to Miami.
As this is the first time these works have been exhibited together for the first time, how important was it for you to bring Art after Stonewall to Frost Art Museum FIU?
The artist, critic, and curator Jonathan Weinberg, with curators Tyler Cann and Drew Sawyer, thoughtfully organized an exhibition that brings together popular material as well as art to tell a story that has never been comprehensively told through art. Their original and scholarly approach appealed to us because we are a museum that values unique experiences as well as credible scholarship.
There is also a social, cultural and community connection between Miami and some of the artists that are part of this exhibition, how much did this history play in bringing Art after Stonewall to Miami?
It was precisely because of these artistic connections with artists such as Martin Kreloff, who was integral to the narrative of the exhibition as well as to Miami's gay history, that we felt it was important to bring the exhibition to Miami.
Did you have any apprehensions about being only 1 of 3 cities to host this exhibition?
No, quite the opposite. We feel honoured that the Columbus Museum of Art chose us as one of three venues to host Art after Stonewall.
This groundbreaking show is also going to headline Miami's Art Basel in December, does this add any extra pressure on you?
We specifically targeted Art Basel as the best time to exhibition Art after Stonewall because we see an increase in visitors from around the world who will seek out the Frost Art Museum to see this dynamic and fascinating exhibition, which has already gained media attention.
What have been some of the logistical issues you've faced with hosting this exhibition?
We haven't experienced any logistical issues. The Columbus Museum of Art and the Grey Art Gallery at NYU in New York have been highly professional partners in travelling the exhibition.
The organizing principles of the exhibition are anchored by seven prominent themes in the art made after Stonewall and before the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s: “Coming Out,” “Sexual Outlaws,” “Uses of the Erotic,” “Gender Play,” “Things are Queer,” “Aids and Activism,” and “We’re Here.” The iconic images suggested the themes as well as the artists who were engaged in gay history. The curators examined these ideas and developed these seven loose themes around which the exhibition is organized.
Do you have a favourite piece that has really connected with you?
I love Vito Acconci’s video from 1971 called Conversions because as a straight man he pushed boundaries like so few artists to dare to do, testing all our assumptions. Laura Aguilar’s photographic portrait Carla is part of a series that we exhibited last year in the artist’s first retrospective. I think she was a tremendous talent and her untimely death cut short a tremendous career.
The exhibition has a range of artists from David Hockney, Don Bachardy to Joan Snyder who are some of the other artist's audiences can expect to find?
Keith Haring, Robert Mapplethorpe, Lynda Benglis, Alice Neel, Catherine Opie, Peter Hujar, Vito Acconci, the list goes on.
"Laura Aguilar’s photographic portrait Carla is part of a series that we exhibited last year in the artist’s first retrospective."
Have you discovered any artists or works that you had not been familiar with before?
Yes, many. In organizing this exhibition, the curators brought to light many artists whose careers are under recognized because of their subject matter or they did not build traditional careers from their art. That this exhibition exhibit works by many artists who were engaged in the evolution of gay history is one of its many groundbreaking aspects. The exhibition is also bolstered by intriguing and hard-to-find ephemera such as pamphlets that illustrate the existence of numerous groups that were quietly oriented to lesbians and gays.
How much will the Art after Stonewall exhibition speak to the LGBTQ+ community in 2019?
If it's up to us, the exhibition will speak volumes to the LGBTA+ community in 2019. At FIU, many of our students are likely unaware of the breadth and depth of gay history. This exhibition will surprise many students and others because of the bold subject matter, the number of artists who engaged in LGBTQ+ communities historically, and that this is a long and rich history that didn’t just recently arise. The Stonewall Riots benchmark a beginning of gay history, but this is a history that extends to ancient times. At the Frost Art Museum, we strive to show the grand arc of art history, providing a context for contemporary art and ideas.
And finally, what do you hope people will take away from this exhibition?
I hope our visitors will acknowledge the guts and grit that these artists had to make declarative and public visual statements about gender and sexuality in a predominantly homophobic world.