How did you get involved with TOM House? I personally am a huge fan and the historical landmark pin— what is that collaboration like? Will it be ongoing?
Our first collaboration was with Stuart Sandford, a resident artist of TOM House, and he introduced us to the crew there. The historical landmark pin is a memento of a piece of history. TOM House has created so many opportunities for gay artists and we think it’s really cool to be able to own a piece of that. We would love to keep those collabs going and find new ways to transform the TOM House legacy into pin form.
Tom of Finland, which follows the life of Touko Laaksonen, better known as Tom of Finland, from the trenches of WWII through the repression of the 1950s to the advancement of gay liberation, will be screened Jan. 10 at 7 p.m. and Jan. 13 and 14 at 11 a.m. The Jan. 10 screening will include a wine reception before the film and a Q&A after the movie at the Art Theatre of Long Beach.
Organizers at the Q Film Festival, which spotlights LGBTQ films and is produced by the Long Beach LGBTQ Center, wanted to schedule Chavela and Tom of Finland during the September movie showcase, but the films were not available, said Robert Cano, who programmed the two films and is the founder of the Festival.
Tom first came to Los Angeles in 1978 to showcase his artwork in a solo exhibition. The success of the show led him to become a frequent traveler to the region. The erotic at pioneer lived in a two-story Craftsman house in Echo Park, owned by Durk Dehner, who invited Tom to use the home as his local studio and residence. Tom also used the house to escape the cold Finnish winters.
Pioneering erotic artist Tom of Finland, lived in this two-story Echo Park house, TOM House, during the latter years of his life. Photo: Adrian Scott Fine/L.A. Conservancy
TOM OF FINLAND FOUNDATION
In 1984, Tom and Durk spearheaded Tom of Finland Foundation in the house to catalog his work and to provide a safe space for artists facing discrimination and misrepresentation due to the erotic nature of their work.
In July 2016, the Foundation nominated the Tom of Finland House at 1421 Laveta Terrace for designation as an Historic-Cultural Monument. Four months later, the Los Angeles City Council approved the nomination.
As commercial as Tom of Finland licensed products get (they even include dish towels), there is something untamable and wild about Tom of Finland Foundation events. If you are in the L.A. area this weekend, you should visit the Art and Culture Festival just to be at TOM House. It is an authentic experience like you can’t get at the Tar Pits or the Observatory.
This year marks the 22nd annual Tom of Finland Art and Culture Festival, taking over the entire landmark property where Tom of Finland Foundation has operated since 1984. The Festival is one of the key public events initiated and run by Foundation and serves as a platform in furthering its mission to preserve, protect, and promote erotic art.
To salute Kino Lorber’s October release of the Tom of Finland biopic, this year’s programming will have a focus on moving pictures and pictures in motion, namely skateboards with artwork and tattoos on living bodies.
The Festival’s guest artist is Brian Anderson, the legendary skater who declared to the world a year ago that he is gay. He is skateboarding’s most prominent pro star to come out and has recently released a zine that includes his artwork.
At the awards reception on Saturday evening, celebrated artist Jim French (1932-2017) will be remembered for popularizing the aesthetic prevalent in gay adult films to this day, and famed photographer Arthur Tress will be acknowledged for his lifetime of artistic contributions.