TOM OF
FINLAND

THE
FOUNDATION

EROTIC ART
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[FrontPage Include Component]

BIOGRAPHIES

BOARD MEMBERS & ASSOCIATES

The FOUNDATION

Daniel BABCOCK
Cliff BENJAMIN
Dan BERKOWITZ
Durk DEHNER

 

Mike GOLDIE
Louis JAY
Jay JORGENSEN
Mark NELSON

SHARP

Gerry VITAGLIANO


THE FOUNDATION

The Tom of Finland Foundation was established by Durk Dehner and his friend Touko Laaksonen, a.k.a. Tom of Finland. As Tom had established worldwide recognition as the master of homo-erotic art, the Foundation's original purpose was to preserve his vast catalog of work. Several years later the scope was widened to offer a safe haven for all erotic art in response to rampant discrimination against art that portrayed sexual behavior or generated a sexual response.

Today the Foundation continues in its efforts at educating the public as to the cultural merits of erotic art and in promoting healthier, more tolerant attitudes about sexuality. In October, the Tom of Finland Foundation will present The 9th Annual Tom of Finland Foundation Erotic Art Weekend in Los Angeles. For more information on this and other events, drawing workshops, fundraisers and exhibitions, check out the Tom of Finland Foundation event board at www.tomoffinlandfoundation.org/foundation/events.html.

DANIEL BABCOCK - administrator

Daniel Babcock is the Foundation's Office Manager. Dan Babcock has studied Fine Art, receiving his BFA from California Institute of the Arts. He has been associated with Tom of Finland for over twelve years.

CLIFF BENJAMIN - board member

Cliff Benjamin is a gallery owner and collector

DAN BERKOWITZ - president

Dan Berkowitz (president) is a writer/producer/director whose credits include television shows, commercials, videos, plays, and musical revues. He is the West Coast member liaison for The Dramatists Guild of America, the professional association of playwrights, composers, and lyricists, and is Co-Chair of The Alliance of Los Angeles Playwrights. His stage work has been produced off-Broadway and at major regional theatres across the country, and he writes a regular column for The Dramatist magazine.

DURK DEHNER - foundation director

Durk Dehner grew up in Alberta, Canada, and attended fine arts programs at The Allied Arts Center in Calgary, Alberta, the University of Alberta, Edmonton, and The Vancouver School of Fine Arts. Dehner co-founded the Tom of Finland Foundation with Tom himself in 1984 to establish an archive for Tom's life history and work. Dehner has been at the helm of the Foundation developing it into what it is today while working in publishing, film direction, editing and production, public relations and marketing, photography, art collecting, writing, event production, and public speaking. He is a true renaissance man living in the twenty-first century.

"Durk Dehner is Tom’s archivist and provided the original art for these volumes. He was born in Alberta, Canada, where he studied art before moving to the United States in the mid-seventies. He modeled for photographers Bruce Weber and Ken Haak, and began working with Tom of Finland in 1978 as his public relations liaison. Dehner was instrumental in bringing Tom out of the underground and focusing public attention on his work. The two co-founded the Tom of Finland Foundation in 1984 as an archive for Tom's work and life history. He continues as head of the Foundation, headquartered in Los Angeles, California, and has expanded it to provide a refuge for all forms of erotic art."

— from the Taschen Website "Tom of Finland -- The Comic Book Collection" May 2005

MIKE GOLDIE - chief financial officer

Mike Goldie is a longtime Board member and was elected Chief Financial Officer. Goldie is a Santa Monica businessman and has contributed in enormous ways to the Foundation. He is ever-present and dedicated to the future of our organization. [M.G. does not like any information given out on him.]

LOUIS JAY
 

Louis Jay originally hailed from the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area and moved to California in the late seventies. Born in 1951 at St. Mary's Ringling Hospital in Baraboo, WI, his life has been a three-ring circus ever since.

Centering his career on computers — from mainframes, to minis and then to PCs — he shifted from technical programming towards helping small organizations with user applications. "Some of my jobs were so technically oriented that none of my friends could understand what I was doing. I wanted to move into more 'people oriented' areas."

Louis was the typesetter for Frontiers Magazine for a while, and later was editor-in-chief for Parkwood Publications' International Leatherman, Round Up and Foreskin Quarterly magazines — as well as being instrumental in getting The Leather Journal off the ground.

A friend suggested he stop by for the Foundation's Archiving Sundays years ago. Now he's involved with the bookkeeping, graphics, the website, and keeping the computers running smoothly.

JAY JORGENSEN - board member under consideration

Jay Jorgensen was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1964. He picked up his first camera at a young age and was hooked. An early influence were the beautiful nudes of dancers by Kenn Duncan that appeared in "After Dark" magazine. Moving to Los Angeles in 1985, Jorgensen's work took a turn when a friend asked him to take some nudes. "It opened up a whole new way of expression for me, and I began asking friends to pose for me. Those early images allowed me a certain intimacy in the images because of my familiarity with the subjects.

"
There was a great renaissance in black-and-white photography about that time. Herb Ritts, Bruce Weber, Helmut Newton were all publishing books, and the images were like none I had ever seen before. Horst and George Platt Lynes are also two of my favorite photographers and I have learned a lot by looking at their mastery of shadows."

In 1999, Jorgensen won the Grand Prize in the Tom of Finland Foundation¹s Emerging Erotic Artist Contest. His commercial work has appeared in Palm Springs Life, TV Guide and People magazines.

MARK NELSON - board member

Photo Credit:
Jeffrey Eason

Photo Credit:
Aaron Cobbett

Minnesotan Mark Nelson moved to New York City in 1992, after spending 3 years in Miami (getting his feet wet in the gay world). His first job in NYC was running designer Michael Katz's showroom, but to live the lifestyle for which he thought he wanted (!) he tended bar at The Break — the original Chelsea dive bar (Thursday $1 margarita nights). To make extra cash — never enough — Mark go-go danced for promoters Marc Berkley's parties and John Blair's Roxy.

In 1995 Mark became a manager of Brian and Harry's Splash Bar where he helmed the "Extreme Tea Sunday Night Party", booking talent such as Lisa Lisa, Cyndi Lauper, The Funky Green Dogs, etcetera.

The summer of 1998 Mark Nelson left Splash to start his own promotions thing teaming up with promoters John Blair and Rob Fernandez at Boys Life. Soon Mark was working at Life on Thursday and Sundays, and eventually moved the Sunday party to Cheetah with Fernandez.

Wearing different hats over the years, Mark has co-produced a few of the Tom of Finland Parties with Peter Sparrow, became a promoter for Junior Vasquez, and is currently a co-promoter at the renowned NYC Friday Night party Krash with JR, Tommy and Cynthia Russo and is the host of John Blair's Saturday Roxy in NYC.

As Entertainment Director for the annual Dance on The Pier (booking Janet Jackson in 2004 and The Pussy Cat Dolls in 2005); Mark co-produces the annual "gay day" Fairgrounds Out at Night at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey every September with Heritage of Pride. Mark freelances for Equinox Fitness Clubs, producing and implementing in-house events across the country for all their facilities.

Aside from spending too much time on internet chat rooms, Mark writes, edits and sends out a weekly email newsletter that currently goes to over 26,000 subscribers across the USA and many parts of the world.

Currently Mark's office is working with The National Gay & Lesbian Task Force 2006 Miami Winter Party Festival; Mark hopes to continue in his field for years to come.

SHARP - board member

Sharp studied Fine Arts, Art History and Design at several Midwest schools and managed the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati, Ohio. He has worked in design for film and television for over twenty years and fell head-over-heels for the Tom of Finland Foundation nearly six years ago. He sits on the Foundation's Board, acts as the editor of its newsletter, The Dispatch, and is the Head Curator of its Permanent Collection.

Says Sharp of art, "I'm impressed by integrity, wackiness, resplendent candor and all those things you want to revisit when you close your eyes at night before you fall asleep."

GERALD VITAGLIANO - board member

Photo Credit:
JayPG
(preferred image)

Photo Credit:
JayPG

Gerald Vitagliano moved to Los Angeles in 2003 from NYC where he lived for 25 years. Originally from New Haven, CT, he was a "townie" at Yale College where he received a BA in Philosophy and a BA in History of Art. After working in NYC for a few years — notably at Hill & Knowlton, Inc. — Vitagliano returned to New Haven for graduate school, getting an MBA from Yale¹s School of Management.

Currently he is a Senior Vice President at Morgan Stanley, where he has been a financial advisor to individual, corporate, and non-profit clients for over 13 years. Earlier professional experience includes financial planning at Chemical Bank, NY and new business development at CBS, Inc. Gerry has long been aware of, and impressed by, the Foundation's important work and its far-reaching achievements.

  TOM OF FINLAND FOUNDATION 2003 - 2005