Solo Show Explores Gay Marriage

You're invited

In an exhibition sponsored by the City of Federal Way, painter Maura McGurk uses texture, color and found objects to explore long-term relationships, particularly gay marriage.

McGurk explains that she arrived at this theme through a challenge she gave to herself, to begin using pattern in more conscious ways in her paintings. This technical consideration quickly turned metaphorical as she began to consider the patterns (specifically behavioral ones) in her daily life. This train of thought eventually led to the realization that her eight-year relationship with her wife could now qualify as “long-term”.

But it was a trip to Italy in 2015, their first since traveling there together as a brand-new couple, that provided a natural opportunity to examine their relationship at its beginning and at its current bloom. This bookending also caused McGurk to revisit some of her earlier artwork, since she was inspired by Italy at that time. The warm Italian palette, crusty textures, sense of the passage of time, and found objects such as Italian wall posters frequently featured in her compositions, and she has returned to some of these elements to explore marriage.

The occasional exploration of the figure is a departure from McGurk’s usual abstraction, and a move into more explicitly personal territory and themes.

…And stand together yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.”

Excerpt from “On Marriage” by Kahlil Gibran

California, Meet Minnesota (and Delaware, and Rhode Island)

Today, Minnesota legalized gay marriage.

This is amazing on many levels.

When I was planning my wedding 9 short months ago, there were 6 states where marriage was legal. Of those, 3 were in the midst of some kind of repeal attempt, so we had 3 true options. Mia and I had to go outside of the state where we lived in order to get legally married (thank you, Connecticut, you will always be close to our hearts for that reason).

In the last 11 days, 3 states have legalized marriage equality. That’s worth repeating: 3 states in 11 days have legalized marriage equality. That’s momentum! Thank you, Rhode Island, Delaware, and Minnesota, for doing the right thing.

Who would’ve thought that any of these 3 (very lovely) states were known for being on the cutting edge? Or how about Iowa, who legalized marriage equality in 2009? A big part of me wanted to get married in Iowa, just to show them my support. Every time the news comes out of one of these states, I do a little congratulatory dance, and then my thoughts turn to California.

California, you know I love you forever. I went to college there. My heart is in the Bay Area. But I hope it hurts you, at least a little, that Delaware, Rhode Island, and Minnesota have beaten you at your own progressive game. I hope you’re wondering where you went wrong. I hope you’re feeling a little behind the 8-ball, because you are.

The Delawares, and the Minnesotas, and the Rhode Islands of this country are showing you up.

Aside from Wayne’s World putting Delaware on the map in 1992 (ahem), I couldn’t have told you much about it. But Delaware passes marriage equality, and we see what they’re really made of. We know what makes them tick.

California, are you there? Hello?

Maura McGurk Named Artist of the Week by theStudio4Art


TheStudio4Art named Maura McGurk “Artist of the Week” for her paintings in response to gay bullying, and recognized her for her work with various charities that stand behind LGBT youth.

In bestowing this honor, theStudio praises the paintings and mixed media work that not only display “a magnificent use of color and texture”, but also have the ability to emotionally resonate and move hearts and minds. TheStudio states that McGurk’s artwork “promotes love, acceptance and tolerance and supports LGBT youth by taking a stand against the bully epidemic. If there was ever a time to believe that art has the power to change the world this would be a start.”

Listen to Your Mother Survey: Some Excerpts

Video by John Roberts. This video encapsulates many of the responses Mia and I received to our anonymous online survey of mothers of gay children.

At this point in history, it could be argued that it’s never been easier to tell your parents you’re gay. But Mia and I can tell you from personal experience that coming out to our parents wasn’t easy. We planned for the announcement, carefully choosing the words, timing, and setting, and hoping for the best possible reaction.

Our mothers especially had a difficult time with the news. Our genuine interest in trying to understand their reactions has led us to consider other mothers’ responses to their own children’s coming out announcements.

We created a survey of 10 questions, with unlimited space to answer in narrative form. We received responses from over 100 mothers. In a presentation at the Museum of Motherhood, entitled Listen to Your Mother: Mothers Respond When Their Children Come Out As Gay, we included some analysis of responses and quotes from real mothers of gay children. We are considering additional ways to present this information to the public in the future. Stay tuned.

Below are excerpts from the MOM presentation:

Regarding the age at which children came out to their mothers, most were in their late teens or twenties. Seven were 12 years old or younger.

When we asked about the first thing the mother thought of when her child came out to her, these were some of the responses:

  • “shit.”
  • “I remember thinking that I wished I had a fishing pole, and could reel his words back in, so they wouldn’t be out in the open. Then, I thought my heart would break to think that he went through this process alone.”
  • “Well, that solves that pesky daughter-in-law problem.”
  • “What would our friends and family think and say. Shame on me….”
  • “All of the things I’d said and done inadvertently to hurt him. (Don’t buy that shirt, it looks gay)”
  • “That I had lost him forever”

Mothers’ fears included the following:

  • “Was very uneducated on the topic so worried about internet predators and increased susceptibility to drugs/alcohol/depression.”
  • “I was mostly afraid that he would be “shunned”, that people would be cruel, and that he wouldn’t find love. I was afraid his father would reject him, worried how friends/community would react. and felt sorry that I probably wouldn’t have grandchildren.”
  • “My only fear for myself was that I had let her down by not making it safe for her to tell me earlier. For my child, fears that her very traditional extended family would reject her (one side did, the other did not).”

Regarding whether coming out affected any family relationships:

  • “Once the news settled in, I realized that my child would be treated by people the same way “I” treated her. So, I really made an effort to touch her, hug her, in public–to let EVERYONE know that I loved my child.”
  • “it has affected my relationship with him. still have a hard time understanding it after 12 years of knowing”
  • “no, but I did feel guilty that I was so dim and not able to offer support during his teen years when he must have needed it.”

We asked if and how mothers shared the information with family and friends:

  • “I have found that I am most comfortable if I share as much as possible. It helps me find out who is really going to be an asset to my son and from whom we need a little separation. I don’t have any tolerance for negative energy around this topic–my son will get enough of this out in the world, so he needs to be completely safe from it at home. I want him to expect to be respected.”

Did mothers see their children’s gay sexuality as a reflection on their parenting?

  • “I must admit that I did wonder if I was too liberal in my parenting. As parents of boys, we encouraged art, baby dolls and cooking, and discouraged rough behavior. We were able to ignore the comments of other parents (especially fathers) when they were young, because we were certain we were raising balanced children. My son being gay seemed to validate my critics.”

We asked mothers how their child came out:

  • “I came home from work early one day. She and her girlfriend were cuddled up on the sofa and were very surprised to see me. Don’t remember how I got the girlfriend out of the house, it was all her fault you know, but I started screaming at my child. She went across the street to a neighbor and stayed for some time but when she came home the confrontation continued. The girlfriend had seduced her, etc! It was probably the worst day of our lives.”
  • “Thank you for doing this. When My Son told me, he was very hesitant as if worried what My response would be. I told him that I already knew. I had always known. And I told him that it didn’t make any difference to me, I love him just as much, I love him just the same, and he is My Son, nothing changes my love for him, not being Gay or not, just as it wouldn’t change how I felt if he was a good kid vs. a bad kid, or if he was outgoing vs. shy. He is My Son. I Love him with all my heart! I don’t understand how some Parents can turn their children away when they tell their Parents. That’s when your child needs you the most in their life. How could I have reacted any other way? I am so very Proud of My Son! I remember him telling me that he hears all these stories from his friends about the horrible way some of them were treated by their PArents because they are Gay, and I will never forget him telling me that he had no way to understand how that felt because he didn’t experience that at all with me when he told me. That is something I will always carry with me. Just something as simple as my reaction made his journey easier. That is what a Mom should be able to do for her Son.”
  • “he called on the phone 2 weeks before we wre going up to see him perform in a play. I’m glad he told me on the phone, so i could fall apart privately, and I had 2 weeks to prepare so I could face him and hide my tears.”
  • “She arrived home from school & told me she finally met someone she had a crush on. She was stunned when I said “I hope she’s a good student.””

Did having a gay child impact the mother’s identity?

  • “No. I think I have become more vocal about my love for all my kids. It bothered me that he had to question how I would react. I want them to know my love is unconditional.”
  • “I consider it a positive impact on my parenting that he could tell me. I also know that he never heard negative comments about homosexuals in our house or in our church which comforts me”
  • “Yes, I was sure it was my fault, and that the fact that I had kicked his father out had coused it. No matter what, it never changed my love for him. I feel like it did change my thoughts and beliefs about gay people.”

We asked how mothers handle negative comments about gay people.

  • “I would always have spoken up when someone made an offensive comment. Now that it is personal, however, I feel I am better able to make offenders aware of how hurtful they are. Saying, “I disagree with your statement” just isn’t as powerful as saying, “someone I love is gay, and your words are very hurtful to me.” Making them aware of my pain makes them think. Fortunately, it just hasn’t come up for me very often.”

We asked whether mothers were concerned about their children’s future partners, specifically, if they were concerned about any masculinity in the women, or femininity in the men:

  • “No… long as my son is happy, that is all that matters. He has a wonderful partner whom I consider my “other son””
  • “No. It may have been different were she male. It has been difficult for me to take uber-feminine gay men seriously (can’t imagine them as attorneys or accountants, for example). I have had to challenge my thinking on this, and it has been difficult. I am not proud of this.”
  • “No my daughter has always been masculine and hasn’t dated anyone yet that I know. Whomever she likes or falls in love with won’t matter as long as they treat each other with love and respect. I’m concerned with how outsiders will treat my child because of her masculinity let alone with a girlfriend.”
  • “I’m quite conventional in my behavior. And I’m relieved that my daughter chooses partners who don’t appear ‘gay.’ If she did, then I’d have some work to do on myself to accept this and I know I’d be able to.”

We asked for advice for mothers whose children have just come out.

  • “Take your time dealing with your emotions. And no emotion is off limits. You are entitled to all of them. It can be a long process getting comfortable with your new reality, but you will get there and it will be worth it. And some day, you will look back and be amazed at how far you have come. I would also add that finding out we had a gay son opened up our world in the most amazing ways. I would not change one thing about the journey we have been on. And I certainly would not change one thing about my son.”

Back to School

Before and After, Acrylic/Mixed media on panel, 24" x 24", $1500

Every once in a while, someone asks me why I paint about gay bullying. This kind of conversation usually goes like this: “Why do you paint about gay bullying? I mean, aren’t there plenty of other kids getting bullied? Aren’t you giving special treatment to the gay ones?”

This always reminds me of the first few pages of Tina Fey’s Bossypants, where she comments on people who give away more about themselves than they realize, by the questions they ask, and the way they ask them.

But anyway. As we start the new school year, let’s remember:

That’s about twice as many gay kids being bullied, and that’s way too many.

Jen McKen Stands up to Bullies and Kicks A**!

Photo by Jennifer McKendrick

I know August is supposed to be a slow month for news, but here’s the best article I’ve read in ages, about a photographer in Pennsylvania who discovered some cyberbullying on Facebook. When Jennifer McKendrick (aka Jen McKen) realized that four of the bullies were local girls who had booked appointments with her for their senior portraits, she knew she had to take a stand. Jen emailed them to cancel their upcoming portrait sessions, then emailed their parents to say why.

This woman is my new hero.

On her Facebook page and blog, she wrote about discovering the girls’ page, which was devoted entirely to hateful and offensive comments regarding their classmates. Jen wrote: “I saw it with my own wasn’t hearsay, it was right there..with their smiling face right beside such an ugly statement”, and elaborated later that the comments weren’t superficial ones about hair or clothing, but biting, vicious ones about sexuality.

Based on what she read on the page, Jen wrote on her blog: “I do not want them to represent my business and I am beside myself at how MEAN and CRUEL they were on that page.”
Jen not only cancelled their appointments and returned their deposits, but told them and their parents why. She also attached screen shots of the Facebook page as proof of the bullying statements. (Other readers also reported the page to Facebook, by the way, based on the hateful content).

Jen received reply emails from two parents, who apologized, said they were shocked and promised to deal with the matter.

I went to Jen’s Facebook page and was surprised that the traffic hasn’t shut the site down! The comments are easily 99-to-1 in favor of Jen. Most glow with praise; some promise to send business her way in support of her courage to do the right thing; many wish they could patronize her Pennsylvania business but live too far away. Many also note how difficult it is (in this, or any economy) to do the right thing when it involves turning away paying customers.

The two (only two) dissenters I could find seemed to be teenagers who are not very well versed in how Facebook actually operates. One called Jen “mean” for canceling the photo sessions, and supported another who called Jen “stalkerish” for “snooping on” the Facebook page in the first place. And yet, this is the point of Facebook: to connect via public comments. Everyone knows that what you put on Facebook, stays on Facebook. By that, I mean that if you write it, it’s out there. People find it and read it.

An unexpected voice against Jen, however, is Anne Rice, the vampire novelist. Her opinion, which anyone can read publicly on Facebook (sorry, I “snooped” and found it on her page): “I don’t support this kind of discrimination, any more than I support the bridal shop owner who wouldn’t sell a dress to a lesbian.”

I appreciate your stand on gay rights, Anne, but I can’t side with you about the bullying. What Jen did is not discrimination based on an immutable characteristic such as age, race, creed, gender, sexuality, etc–which are regularly protected from discriminatory behavior. It certainly is discrimination to refuse service to someone based on these characteristics. But to refuse service to someone based on how they choose to act, especially when that choice harms others–it happens all the time and is a necessary consequence for bad behavior. Bouncers and anyone in the restaurant business know that service is regularly denied to those who are disorderly, drunk, or just not wearing shoes and a shirt. Celebrities are dropped from advertising campaigns due to their bad behavior (I still think of the then-charming Kobe Bryant’s Euro-flavored endorsement of Nutella–before he was dropped as a spokesman after his arrest for sexual assault in 2003). Why would Nutella want Kobe’s smiling face to represent them in America’s grocery stores? And why would Jen McKendrick want her product (her brand, her photographs) to be represented by the smiling faces of cyberbullies and bigots?

So we’ve come full circle to the idea of this as a business decision. I support it on that level, but I also believe in the old-fashioned idea of calling people out on their bad behavior.

Rallying cry of the day: “If you are ugly on the inside, I’m sorry but I won’t take your photos to make you look pretty on the outside!”

Favorite Quotes from It Gets Better, Musical edition

“When I first came to New York to pursue my acting career, I got a survival job in an office. My first day walking into the office I heard the soundtrack to Barbra Streisand’s Yentl playing through the speakers, and the owner came out, wearing freedom rainbow rings in her ears, and shook my hand. I remember thinking, “Oh, my gay God. I’m home.” J.B. Wing (Broadway singer), p. 69

“You know why everybody’s making videos and writing their stories for this project? Because you matter. You matter. Don’t let anyone define you with their hateful words and actions. Believe in yourself. Life is so wonderful with all its heartaches and joys. And the world is such an incredible, beautiful place. You deserve to be around to enjoy it. You deserve to have an amazing life.” Bryan Johnson (Broadway singer) p. 70

“When I think about being a teenager, I don’t usually feel nostalgic. But I don’t have to feel bad about how I made someone else feel ashamed or unwanted. Despite how painful it was to earn it, I cherish the wisdom I have about accepting myself and other people, all kinds of people, for who they are. When I make a friend now, I make sure they know that I don’t care if they are weird, or popular, or straight, or pretty, or black, or like me, or different. I just want them to know that I like them, that I am their friend, and I mean it.” Meshell Ndegeocello, p. 113

Superheroes and Political Art

I love my EW magazine, and here’s one more reason: the July 29 issue features an article called “So One Comic-Book Legend Said to the Other…” that got me thinking about the connection between superheroes and political art.

The article is a conversation between authors Neil Gaiman, who is, incidentally, a favorite of my old roommate Matt, and Grant Morrison. Not being a science fiction or comics fan, I’m mostly unaware of their work, and truth be told, I’ve been superheroed-out over the past couple of years. Fan-boy, I’m not. Definitely not.

But I’ve been aware, at least from the periphery, of the special place that superheroes have held in the gay community. Superheroes all seem to be in the closet about their true identity for some reason, and deliver justice to evil bullies. I get that. But the accompanying blast of testosterone was offputting to me, although I have a special place in my heart for Wonder Woman (of course!), the Wonder Twins, and now Super Dyke (who does not dispense Justice, but Hugs).

Out of respect for the gay community, I decided to give the article a go.

At one point, Gaiman says:

I think the great thing about superheroes is they posit that one person can make a difference, and that’s the ultimate moral glory of any story. It’s like the action of saying, “Yes, I can make a difference. I can be smart. I can get out there and do the right thing.

Morrison replies:

…I think the message of all those stories was yes, one person can make a difference, and by the way, that person is you.

This exchange got me thinking about one of the reasons I make political art, by way of anti-gay bullying paintings. Sure, on a personal level, I’m articulating feelings and making connections among latent ideas. But with this body of work, I am also making a difference in the world by drawing attention to a problem, and sometimes suggesting a solution. In fact, that is the driving force behind a work like Love One Another.

Love One Another, Acrylic on magnetized puzzle pieces, approx 2" x 2" each piece, $15 per piece

As I wrote in an earlier post,

…President Obama and Ellen DeGeneres, among others, have said that everyone shares a responsibility for taking a stand against bullying.

This idea of everyone doing their part is the inspiration behind Love One Another.

This artwork is made of 100 painted, magnetized puzzle pieces. Unlike other artwork in this show, the individual components here are designed to be removed from the whole, with each piece taking on life of its own as a small abstract painting. This shows that we all…have a stake in this problem, and can each do something to help solve it.

…Removing pieces and taking them home is a commitment to taking a stand against gay bullying. Posting them on the fridge or a filing cabinet is a daily reminder of the responsibility that we all share.

So Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and their colleagues have also felt the personal calling to make a difference. Super Dyke too–although she doesn’t chase villains in a tricked-out vehicle (I don’t think), she makes the difference she can, by giving hugs to anyone who needs one. I guess we all do what we can: I paint, Super Dyke gives out hugs, Bruce Wayne builds sophisticated crimefighting tools.

The words that are written around the outside edge of Love One Another sum up the inspiration behind it, and also Gaiman and Morrison’s thoughts on the morality behind the superhero mythology:

You are only one.
 One is enough.
 Take one.
 Help one.
 Love one another.

Artist Puts Money Where Mouth Is, Donates 10% of Exhibition Proceeds to It Gets Better

Photo courtesy of Jeff Campbell

Artwork created in response to gay bullying raises money for foundation combatting anti-gay teen bullying and suicide

(New York, NY)

Maura McGurk was so moved to hear of the suicides of several teenagers in Fall 2010, bullied because they were gay, or at least thought to be gay, that she began memorializing her anguish for the teens in paintings.

Simultaneously in the Fall of 2010, columnist and activist Dan Savage founded the It Gets Better Project, which sprang from the same concern for bullied gay teens.

In July 2011, McGurk and the It Gets Better Project came together when she exhibited her anti-gay bullying artwork in Norwich, Connecticut and donated 10% of proceeds from sales to the non-profit organization, to support their work with LGBT youth.

McGurk contacted Savage and It Gets Better because of their shared interest in saving teens’ lives, and told them about the exhibition. Savage was already acquainted with her work, since he owns one of her anti-gay bullying paintings, called, appropriately enough, It Gets Better.

McGurk’s artwork was on view at the Wauregan Gallery in an exhibition entitled Lavender Menace: Paintings by Maura McGurk in Response to Gay Bullying. From that show, she sold five paintings of various sizes on paper and wood panel, as well as 18 painted puzzle pieces. The puzzle pieces were part of an installation that was dismantled and sold piece by piece during the exhibition. The sales generated a donation of more than $160 for It Gets Better.

McGurk says that although the subject matter of teen suicide and gay bullying is weighty, her message, like that of the It Gets Better Project, is uplifting and supportive. As such, the artwork itself is colorful and attractive.

“I want my work to have a chance to tell its story, and so I try to make it beautiful through colors and textures, so you want to spend time with it,” McGurk said. “And if you spend time with it, hopefully something else will emerge. Lots of art has been made about war and tragedy, and some of it is really bleak and ugly. Let’s face it–tragedy is ugly. But I can’t make my work that way; that’s not me.”

McGurk’s anti-gay bullying artwork can be viewed on her website.

More about Maura McGurk: Believing in art’s power to change the world, Maura’s current work supports LGBT youth by taking a stand against gay bullying. Maura is has exhibited her paintings at various venues in New York, New England, and Italy.  Her work is held in over sixty private collections in the United States, Europe, and the Middle East.

Maura McGurk Featured in “At the Edge” Magazine

The premier issue of At the Edge magazine, an independent art publication which focuses on emerging artists in New York City, features artist Maura McGurk and her crusade against gay bullying.

The article discusses McGurk’s July 2011 solo exhibition, entitled Lavender Menace: Paintings by Maura McGurk in Response to Gay Bullying. The paintings in the exhibition were inspired by the deaths of several teens who committed suicide in Fall 2010 after being bullied because they were gay (or were thought to be gay). McGurk teamed with the It Gets Better Project to publicize the event, and donated 10% of proceeds to them to support their work with gay youth.

An excerpt:

McGurk says that although the subject matter is weighty, the work itself is colorful and attractive.

“Whenever people hear the words abstract art, or gay art, or political art, they say “Uh oh”. I want my work to have a chance to tell its story, and so I try to make it beautiful through colors and textures, so you want to spend time with it. And if you spend time with it, hopefully something else will emerge. Lots of art has been made about war and tragedy, and some of it is really bleak and ugly. Let’s face it–tragedy is ugly. But I can’t make my work that way; that’s not me.”

The magazine has a particular passion for artists affiliated with the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of New York City. McGurk exhibited several paintings at the West Side Neighborhood Alliance (WSNA) offices during the HK Artist Studio Tours in June 2011, and the WSNA is covered in an article in the current issue as well.

Other articles include a history of Hell’s Kitchen, a monograph on Victorine Meurent (Édouard Manet’s model for Olympia and Le déjeuner sur l’herbe) and a spotlight on the International Women Artists’ Salon.

Details regarding purchase, as well as a launch party, will be released soon.

The Puzzle Pieces Were a Hit!

Photo courtesy of Jeff Campbell

If you read my earlier post which explained the story behind the puzzle pieces, you know that I considered this an experimental piece…after all, I don’t usually make interactive pieces or installations.

The idea was to create something visually interesting (as always), something that would advance the cause of drawing attention to–and stopping–gay bullying, and something that would appeal to a mixed crowd of various ages, sexual orientations, levels of interest in art, awareness of gay issues, and so on.

Mia actually brainstormed the idea–thanks honey!–and it turned out even better than expected.

Photo courtesy of Jeff Campbell
The puzzle was set up on a table, so that folks could gather around, and this made the piece more accessible and approachable. On a literal level, people could lean over it. On a psychological level, there was something friendly and maybe less threatening about having the artwork placed this way: it didn’t seem like a “difficult” abstract piece in a gallery; it seemed like a game table at home. Mia was on hand to explain the story behind it, and to encourage people to touch it and choose their own piece. The fact that there was a “hidden” painting underneath the puzzle pieces that would be revealed only by buying pieces also spawned some wild guesses and healthy competition about whose guess was right.

The fact that each piece is priced at just $15 also added to the fun. Everyone wanted to do something to stand up to gay bullying, and the price point made it possible for them to act on that wish. Not everyone could spring for a larger painting, nor does everyone have the wall space for that at home…but a magnet for their fridge or their filing cabinet at work…that was possible.

I was happy to hear people comparing pieces, asking others for their thoughts on which one was prettiest or most interesting. But they also shared their stories as they gathered around the puzzle table: people talking about being bullied themselves, about how they felt when they heard about the young teenagers who committed suicide. Although I deliberately spaced the teenagers’ silhouettes so that they were broken up over the borders of the puzzle pieces–to form a small abstract painting on each piece, but also to avoid the psychological weight of asking someone to place a portrait of dead child on their refrigerator–one woman asked for a piece with an entire silhouette. She said she wanted to remember these kids, wanted to be reminded of her commitment to take a stand against gay bullying, wanted to help.

That was the whole idea.

Lavender Menace Opening

Photo courtesy of Jeff Campbell

The opening reception of Lavender Menace: Paintings by Maura McGurk in Response to Gay Bullying was a success!

I was honored to have so many people in attendance; despite monsoon-like conditions, the gallery was full of steady foot traffic all night. Among the first visitors were mentors and mentees of True Colors, a non-profit organization that works with other social service agencies, schools, organizations, and within communities to ensure that the needs of sexual and gender minority youth are both recognized and competently met. It was great to talk with them about the projects they’re working on, and to answer their questions about my paintings.

Friends from preschool, middle school, college, and grad school came out to support me, not to mention family, and new friends made in Norwich. Thank you to all for your support!

Jeff Campbell and Connor Alderman, photographers extraordinaire, took beautiful photos all night long; I’ll be posting more as they come in.

The show is up all month, and there’s still plenty of time to make a visit to the gallery. You can find details here.

Don’t forget that the 10% deal is still on–I’ll be donating 10% of all proceeds from this exhibition to the It Gets Better Project! By purchasing an artwork, you’re taking a stand against gay bullying. And if you can’t make it to the show but still want to show your support, take a look at the online gallery and shoot me an email to make a purchase.

Contemporary Art Explained: Love One Another

Love One Another, Acrylic on magnetized puzzle pieces, approx 2 x 2 inches each piece, $15 per piece

I’ve been inundated with requests to talk a bit more about the inspiration behind specific pieces…but almost as many people have told me that they enjoy just staring at a piece, and letting feelings wash over them as they try to figure it out.

So, this will be instructive for those of you who want to know more, and SPOILER ALERT for those who want to approach the artwork with a completely open mind.

This piece, called Love One Another, is a bit of an experiment.

Thematically, it’s a response to gay bullying, like the other works, and looks at the aftermath of suicides caused by gay bullying. After the suicides of gay teens in Fall 2010 which brought international attention to the bullying problem in the US, it became clear that this is an issue which touches many people. It Gets Better videos have been viewed millions of times; President Obama and Ellen DeGeneres, among others, have said that everyone shares a responsibility for taking a stand against bullying.

This idea of everyone doing their part is the inspiration behind Love One Another.

This artwork is made of 100 painted, magnetized puzzle pieces. Unlike other artwork in this show, the individual components here are designed to be removed from the whole, with each piece taking on life of its own as a small abstract painting. This shows that we all “hold a piece of the puzzle”, we all have a stake in this problem, and can each do something to help solve it.

To that end, each piece is affordably priced at $15 (and remember that 10% of proceeds go to the It Gets Better Project). Removing pieces and taking them home is a commitment to taking a stand against gay bullying. Posting them on the fridge or a filing cabinet is a daily reminder of the responsibility that we all share.

The image is made of silhouettes of real boys and girls who committed suicide because they were bullied for being gay, or because they were thought to be gay. This piece is deliberately colorful and attractive in order to highlight the positive action that we are all taking; although gay bullying is a weighty topic, I firmly believe that the artwork about it doesn’t have to be bleak or depressing.

There is a secondary component to this artwork, one underneath the magnetized puzzle pieces, which will be revealed as the puzzle pieces are taken away.

You are only one.
One is enough.
Take one.
Help one.
Love one another.

A big hug and thank-you to my girlfriend Mia (whose brainchild this is) for all her help with this project and exhibition.

10% of proceeds from the Lavender Menace exhibition will be donated to the It Gets Better Project.
Keep up with the news from the gallery and read more about the exhibition here.