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Gay Chicago Magazine

Gay Chicago Magazine Issue #13 March 28-April 7, 1996

Dwindling Sites and Sights
By Justin Sunward

Being a serious artist, especially in an uncultured country like ours, is usually a thankless situation at best. If the artist also happens to be gay or lesbian, producing gay or lesbian images, the problems and frustrations encountered become greatly compounded. The act of creation belongs to the artist alone. The product resulting from that act of creation is meant to be shared with others. And that's where all the problems and frustrations arise.

In our largely art sensitive/intolerant society, where art is either ignored or reduced to the level of political football, there are too few outlets for artists to get their work shown, no matter what kind or quality of work they are producing. The vast majority of artists in America don't get their work shown to the public. It's a national disgrace!

For every gallery that exists (and their numbers are dwindling), there are thousands of artists without representation. Basically, galleries show art they will sell. This situation automatically eliminates not only many artists, but whole categories of art. Because of the oppressive political climate we find ourselves in, subjects involving nudity are rarely shown. Anything of a sexually explicit nature is totally anathema. So, how are gay and lesbian artists to get their work shown? The process shortchanges all of us, for we are cheated out of experiences that would enrich our lives.

Happily, here in Chicago, there is a place which shows gay and lesbian art- The Gerber/Hart Gay and Lesbian Library and Archives at 3352 N. Paulina. Currently on view, through the end of April, are the powerful drawings and paintings of Lorraine Inzalaco. In her art she celebrates her own life and that of lesbians universally. We see women alone and together, capturing candid moments of intimacy and personal revelry. Inzalaco is an artist capable of projecting her ideas with great passion. The purity of her purpose is such that one wonders how anyone could be put-off or offended by these wonderful creations.

Not surprisingly, Lorraine holds strong views on art, and lesbian subject matter specifically. “When lesbianism is portrayed by the male artist, beautiful as it may be, that artist places those women in the category of fantasy objects and puts that act of love-making in the realm of a type of voyeurism. Also, it has been created with the intention and specificity of the male audience, not for the identification and pleasure of the female viewer. I believe the content of this subject is strongly based on who is creating the work of art and what audience is intended to view it. No longer should the art of love, lesbian or otherwise, be devoured by sexism.”

Justin H. Sunward, abstract and figurative painter, has exhibited in galleries and museums in New York to California.

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