|TOM OF FINLAND FOUNDATION|
OVER A QUARTER CENTURY OF DEDICATION TO PROTECTING, PRESERVING AND PROMOTING EROTIC ART.
The Long Hot Weekend
The Tom of Finland
Foundation took the chill out of Los Angeles’s fall weather and put a
blush into its seasonably gray October skies with its Eighth Annual
Erotic Art Weekend, October 11-13, three days of drama, desire, and
drawing—sponsored by the Consulate General of Finland, Smirnoff and
participants in from France, Spain, Portugal, and Peru, and visiting
“local” legends—such as Miami Beach's redoubtable Michael Kirwan—Friday
evening's Artist Reception at Foundation Headquarters kicked things off
with a lively mix of old and new school art sensibilities seasoned with
just enough reform school sensibility to keep the guests cognizant that
they were not attending a mixer at nearby MoCA.
Artists such as Celso Junior, in from Lisbon, Benoit Prevot from Paris, and Palanca from the lofty heights of Lima, arrived well in advance of the weekend, amusing themselves absorbing the energies and textures of the former Spanish “ciudad,” a city of orange groves transformed into a cosmopolis of flesh and fantasy in little more than a century. There was certainly no shortage of flesh or fantasy at the overflow reception: amiable diorama-maker Ross Johnston of DeForest, Wisconsin’s rubbed elbows with Minneapolis’ shameless Marc DeBauch; San Francisco’s “sexpressionist painter” Reverend Steven Johnson Leyba and an endless line of admirers chatted up Portland, Oregon’s venerable iconoclast Bill Schmeling (aka “The Hun”); and Hollywood bondage and fashion photographer Rick Castro compared f-stops with Germany’s Dietmar Konig and local up-and-comer Patrick Lee, a prior winner of the Foundation’s Emerging Erotic Artist Contest.
Not to be outpaced by
the other talent, Kirwan donned an apron, exchanging his cook’s whites
for a biker’s cap only at the last minute, just in time to accept
compliments for his art as well as his hors d’oeuvres. Film stars Zak
Spears and Jeff Stryker, the latter in a cherry-red satin suit perfectly
tailored to the devil’s advocate, drew admiring glances but it was the
artists night to shine at the crowded feté. A last chance to eat,
drink, and be merry before two days of “meet, greet, and make
note the venue has changed on future fairs.] The weekend’s main
event, the Erotic Art Fair, commenced the following afternoon. Over 70
artists strong, it overwhelmed Hollywood's LA Lofts (6442 Santa Monica
Boulevard) with a panoply of erotica that included photography,
painting, drawing, lithography, woodcarving, sculpture, metallurgy,
jewelry, dioramas, digital computer graphics, comic art, and ’toons.
Live figure modeling was offered for the edification of attending
artists, with models ranging from an Eugene Sandow lookalike, replete
with handlebar mustache, to a Sid Vicious type rife with tattoos and
piercings. Patrons ranged from the eminently respectable to a gentleman
wearing full-length, mirrored chaps. Artists went one-on-one with their
public at individual booths, while curator Volker Morlock showed
selections from the Foundation's Erotic Art Gallery that included
sketches by Tom of Finland, nudes by Francesco Scavullo, Tom Bianchi,
and Jim French, drawings by Don Bachardy, Goh Mishima, Rex, and Teddy of
Paris, marble phallus sculpture by Marcello Lupetti, and a surprising
Santa-themed watercolor by Beau.
continued apace Saturday evening at Taix Restaurant at the Erotic Art
Awards Dinner, where Board Member Dan Berkowitz welcomed guests and
introduced the awards presentation. Bill “The Hun” Schmeling was
inducted into the Erotic Artist Hall of Fame, only the third person to
be so designated, the first being Foundation founder and namesake Tom of
Finland, the other being Swiss artist H. R. Giger. “I’m sure Tom of
Finland is turning in his grave,” the Hun joked from the podium. “I
received a note from him once, telling me to keep on keeping on. It was
good advice, and I took it, just as I personally delight in coming here
each year to feed off your energy.”
Taschen, no less iconoclastic in his own right, was honored with the
Lifetime Achievement Award for his prolific publishing empire and
contribution to the availability and appreciation of erotic art.
Foundation president Durk Dehner praised Taschen as “a sly fox” who
“broke the mold,” combining “high art, quality production, and low
prices to bring art to the masses.” Taschen representatives Jim
Heimann and Ngozi Ola accepted for the publisher, who was in Europe on
business and unable to attend. Taschen will publish a follow-up to Tom
of Finland: The Art of Pleasure in 2003.
Attendance and sales continued to be brisk on the final day of the Fair. Early risers enjoyed “The Business of Creating and the Pleasure of Collecting Erotic Art,” a breakfast discussion with special guest, the indefatigable, newly-anointed Hall of Famer, Bill Schmeling.
You just can't keep a
good Hun down.
— Lawrence Schubert
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