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OVER A QUARTER CENTURY OF DEDICATION TO PROTECTING, PRESERVING AND PROMOTING EROTIC ART.

John Blackburn
September 10, 1939 — April 7, 2006

     
John Blackburn
circa 1969

Nude in Charcol
1964

Coley
Windjammer Slaveboy
The Giger
1962

On April, 7th, 2006, we lost an icon and part of our history. John Blackburn passed away at 8.35pm, due to complications from treatment for colon cancer. He was 67.

John was born on September, 10th, 1939, he grew up in rural Statesboro, Georgia, attended Georgia State Collage, then transferring to art school in Nashville, Tennessee during the 1950's.

John's first exhibit was in 1960 in Statesboro, GA. Delighted and encouraged when the local chamber of commerce invited him to display his landscape paintings at the local library, John was so excited, he decided to create new landscapes and include nude men in the scenery. Nobody thought about checking in to see what the budding young artist was planing on presenting until the actual opening. So the exhibit opened to the public and the Chamber of Commerce had no choice but to look the other way as John innocently exhibited possibly the 1st homoerotic art exhibit in Statesboro, and possibly the south.

Sometime around 1962 John moved to Los Angeles and never looked back. He immediately immersed himself in the burgeoning gay community. John's artwork was on the cover of ONE.. the first local gay periodical of it's day, founded by Harry Hay, Jim Kempner, Morris Knight and designer Rudy Gernriech. John's art was soon featured in Physique Pictorial, the magazine created by Bob MIzer of AMG Studios.

During the late 70's John created the infamous character of Coley, a bisexual hedonist who's sexual pleasures were vast and often. For this character John incorporated his own experiences and memories of what is was like being a gay young blade in the south during the '60s and '70s. John also created artwork for the Meatmen comic series and had a cover for issue #21.

During 1977 John had two milestones in his life. He opened FrameMakers in Westwood, CA, where he designed and built custom frames. He also met the love of his life Jimmy Kawakami.

John was a close friend of Ted Shawn, a prominent New York dancer and founder of the Denishawn dance company. John painted numerous portraits of Ted and the company, using the images of dancers as prototypes for is artwork.

John Blackburn loved art, spending hours, days painting in his studio. John worked with all mediums- oil, acrylic, pastel, watercolor, pen&ink, pencil and block prints. John liked nothing better than creating art, surrounded by his birds. whom he also had a strong affinity.

"John definitely had a Zen philosophy", says his life partner Jimmy, "He was very kind and carried a nonjudgmental approach to everyone and everything. He believed that all of this world was of equal value. He didn't place people above other living creatures. John had bad memories of the religious dogma from the area he grew up, but in recent years was thinking of moving back. He longed for a slower pace. LA was getting to him, we both were seeking a quieter life."

John Blackburn is survived by his two sister's Billie and Frances, his three birds, Camille, Simone and Carmen, and his true love Jimmy Kawakami. John Blackburn will be loved and missed by the people that knew him, and had the pleasure of experiencing the art, spirit and kindness of this true Southern Gentleman.

TOM OF FINLAND FOUNDATION 2003 - 2004


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ENCOURAGEMENT
"My drawings are primarily meant for guys who may have experienced misunderstanding and oppression and feel that they have somehow failed in their lives. I want to encourage them. I want to encourage this minority group, to tell them not to give up, to think positively about their act and whole being." (1990) — Tom of Finland