Michael Kirwan – A Celebration of a Life Well-Illustrated | 30th June | TOM House

Come Together and Share Stories, Food and Drink in the Gardens of TOM House

Spend a Beautiful Saturday Afternoon
Arrive at 1:00p
1:00 – 2:00p Socialize
2:00 – 3:00p Telling Stories About Michael
3:00 – 3:30p Together We’ll Plant a Tree
3:30p Sharing of Some Food & Drink

Please bring a light entrée, dessert, salad – something to share.
The Foundation will supply beverages.

Also consider bringing some of your personal photos or print outs of Michael’s work.

Please RSVP by email and let us know what you’re bringing.

FACEBOOK EVENT

READ WHAT QUEER ART MEANT TO MICHAEL

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An astute observer and recorder of life – Michael Kirwan (27th December 1953 – 26th May 2018)

Michael Kirwan at Tom of Finland Art Fair, 2012

With a sad heart, we are letting you know that artist Michael Kirwan passed away peacefully on the morning of Saturday, 26th May 2018, in Los Angeles, California.

Hoist a glass and make a toast in celebration of the life of a great and unique man as well as an amazing artist.

Michael was born 27th December 1953. He lived a life filled with joys, passions, family, friends, and art. Michael resided in New York, New York; Miami, Florida; and most recently, Los Angeles, California. Creating his art was his most passionate activity, but he also enjoyed socializing, cooking, intimate encounters, movies, sharing his opinions, and being an astute observer and recorder of life.

While Michael’s artistic talents surfaced early, life had a way of forcing real-world responsibilities on a young Michael. Yes, he was married early in his life and was pleased to have fathered a son, Larry Kirwan. As Michael was reaching his late twenties, his marriage ended and he began a new, queer life that brought comfort within himself and adventures that would make for raucous stories for decades to come.

Michael always had a gift for telling and writing stories, but it was his illustrations and drawings that would give his friends and fans the clearest window into Michael’s thoughts and his heart. His first published work of art appeared in PlayGuy magazine in 1980, and getting paid to create art was Michael’s sweetest dream come true. Through the late 1980s until the mid 2000s, Michael’s highly detailed and evocative art was published in more than 600 magazines. There were periods of the 1990s when Michael’s art appeared in as many as six different magazines per month. The art was gay, straight, fetish, hardcore, and promotional to illustrate fiction, comics, and real life. Michael was incredibly prolific and his talent grew and became more and more popular with fans, readers, and art collectors.

Michael’s works of art have appeared in galleries and exhibitions around the world. After moving to California, he spent a year as the Artist in Residence with the Tom of Finland Foundation. Michael enjoyed an inspirational relationship with the work and history of  Tom and a very supportive relationship with the people of his Foundation who are dedicated to the education and preservation of erotic art for all artists. These years would provide Michael with the most important friendships and partnerships, and during this time, Michael created the best work of his life. Through that association, Michael appeared at internationally attended events and exhibitions that brought new admirers to his work and his Grand Persona as an artist. He was inducted into the Foundation’s Artist Hall of Fame in 2004.

Collectors with great taste and savvy expertise from across the globe have purchased Michael’s original works. After the adult magazine publishers faltered against the internet, Michael drew for his pleasure, to pay rent, and for fans commissioning unique and always interesting erotic scenes via his website KirwanArts.com. Michael always felt he was visually documenting every variety and scenario in gay and straight sexual activities. His inspirations for drawing his characters came from the everyday, regular people he would encounter on the streets, on the bus, throughout parks and markets, in seedy bars, and in dark alleys where names were not exchanged but furtive fun was found. Michael’s drawings exposed the fevered excitement and erotic beauty in every body and face. Michael always said he did not draw “pretty” guys because he knew regular guys had better sex.

Selections of Michael’s works have appeared in numerous books, but a highlight for him came in 2011 as a broad retrospective of his paintings was published in a monograph book titled Just So Horny. The obvious theme tying the works together was Michael’s obsessive attention to details, patterns, and backgrounds. The characters he drew were front and center, but Michael gave them life in a rich and colorful environment he painted on paper as he created the elaborate backstories in his head. Much of Michael’s work was created with fine-point watercolor brushes, making thin lines and blending an abundance of colors and layers, to make fantasies filled with his humor and wry sense of style leaping from the page. Michael rarely drew in front of anyone because he preferred solitude as he worked hunched over an art pad straining and crossing his eyes as he would create minute details and repeating patterns as fabrics and tile works setting a stage for his horny creations.

Michael wanted everyone to buy erotic art (most especially his, of course) and hang it where it should be seen by all. His artwork was part of a recent museum show, TOM House: The Work and Life of Tom of Finland in Detroit.

In addition to his son, Michael is survived by his aunt, Joan Morey and her children Mark Morey and Christina Strain.

There will be A Celebration of the Life of Michael Kirwan
on Saturday, 30th June at TOM House.


READ “Erotic artist Michael Kirwan dies at 64” by Phillip Zonkel for Q Voice News

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Why Queer Art is Relevant

It might seem somewhat self-serving for me to try to make the case for homoerotic art produced within the Gay community (as opposed to the corporate marketing of barely clad sports figures and whatnot). Then again, who is in a better position to address the issue than someone like me who has made a living in this particular field for over twenty years? So if my assessment/argument seems tiresomely biased… well, just take that into account if you feel the need to respond, correct or refute my basic premise.

MICHAEL KIRWAN, Uncut (Detail), 2012, Markers on paper

We as a tribe have existed for thousands of years. Our existence was mostly isolated and necessarily secretive because I imagine that from pretty early on there were elements in society (religious outfits in particular) that abhorred the idea of certain people willingly disregarding the biological imperative to procreate. Queers weren’t following the rules. Queers were actively defying the authorities that determined the “proper” way to live and thus we were relegated to criminal status for exercising our sexual autonomy. We plied our trade in the dark, becoming experts at lying and deceiving in order to survive.

I’m talking about hardcore Homos here, not the Straight guy who occasionally assents to a blowjob in a rest stop or the men who by virtue of circumstances (early cowboys, miners, trappers, sailors, those at all boy/men institutions, prisoners, etc.) had little or no access to women and enough privacy and libido to engage in casual sodomy. We, the real Queers, who define ourselves by our attraction and desire for other men [just an aside here, I speak only for the male population of Homos unless I specify otherwise. Lesbians are capable enough to describe their own views and positions] are a separate and special division of the human race. Once we understand and accept that the cultural insistence that “boy meets girl” doesn’t apply to us, we are given a gift. From an early age (in most cases), we realize that what is taken for granted as “true” is fluid and we can and do question all the other assumptions that society demands we uphold unconditionally. We are armed with the knowledge that they lie or are ignorant; that their interpretation of morality are man-made constructions; and that we must adhere to a level of self-reliance several degrees above what “normal” people require. WE know our truth and are fortuitous enough to glean other “big picture” truths about the world, about human psychology, about social manipulation, and how those who claim the authority to control our behavior are our enemies.

What differentiates us from them is sex. We are HOMOSEXUALS. It’s not the color pink or Judy Garland or decorating skills or our gentle natures that divide us from the breeding population. We suck cock. We get fucked. We go prowling for other horny men to engage in Queer sexual activity. We study the crotches of other males on the bus. We are regularly looking for opportunities to exercise our faggot imperatives. That is our defining characteristic. That is who and what we are. It is what connects us and the graphic representations of our “life” give us all a measure of strength and confidence that for hundreds of years was denied us. You know who originally stole our imagery? The Catholic Church. They controlled the art and the myriad examples of naked and near-naked men usually depicted in situations of helplessness. St. Sebastian was an iconic “gay” figure for centuries, writhing in pain/pleasure while tied to a tree and pierced strategically by arrows. The Catholic elite sold their entire “faith” on the portrayal of Christ, almost completely naked and nailed to a cross. It’s no wonder fags were always drawn to that institution, spending their entire youth staring at the crucified Jesus and being indoctrinated with the belief that this man loves you and needs you to love him, fervently and forever. Of all the episodes attributed to Christ’s life, why did they select this part of the fable to exploit? There are no statues of John Kennedy with a massive hole in his head or old, fat Elvis collapsed on a bathroom floor. No, the Roman Catholic Church from almost it’s inception decided to market their organization using Homoerotic themes to lure in it’s target audience, and possibly to fill the ranks of it’s hierarchy with Queers who were unparalleled in their skills of manipulation, creating illusion and orchestrating behind-the-scenes power coups.

I got a little off-track there. The point was that for the last sixty years or so, we Fags have created and disseminated our own artistic vision of ourselves and did not have to rely on sources that might inadvertently show some cock or muscle or Queer affection in a different context. The iconography of Tom of Finland absolutely unified the Gay community to the extent where the Gay Liberation movement was possible. We suddenly had a sensory commonality that was exclusively our own, not patched together bits and pieces from the detritus of the Straight culture. It’s important that we control the language that describes us. It’s important that we produce the visual archaeology of our existence. It’s important that we retain our own voice, our own power, our own unique sensibilities.

So, please help keep people like me in business. The Gay-porn, print magazines have mostly dried up and now there are hardly any commercial venues open to people who create Gay erotic artwork. I know of at least eight very good artists who have had to get out of the business because there no longer is a reliable industry from which we can derive adequate incomes. If we are not doing it anymore, some corporate entity who has never been on his knees covered in cum from multiple sources somewhere in a park at 4:00 a.m. will be tasked with telling the world who we are. Do not hand over our self-identification to folks that might not have our best interest at heart. Buy Gay art books from tlagay.com, and other similar outlets, but I would suggest getting it from a Gay bookstore —they too are dying out and we really need to support ALL Queer businesses), go to Queer film festivals, dine at Queer-centric eateries. The more independent money we have invested in our community, the better off we will all be when the Straight people decide to vilify us again in the future. And that will happen. When times get tough, scapegoating weaker sectors of society becomes a blood sport. As so many of us disperse out of the Gay ghettos into new territories in an effort to assimilate and be “just like them,” we are weakening our safe havens, our communal identity, and ultimately the core essence that provides whatever protection we might have in a decidedly hostile world. Buy original art. Of course I’d like to have hundreds of collectors from all over the world determined to own scads of Kirwan drawings, but there are plenty of other artists that also need the funding, the accolades, and the financial security to continue telling our own stories. Our identity is based on our sexuality and we need those representations to affirm and express our very being.

Hang a drawing of some cocksuckers at work on your wall TODAY!

Gay Pride, my brethren, Gay Pride. Nothing else matters.

Michael Kirwan

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