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‎”TOM of FINLAND: Original Drawings” opened June 25, 2011, at PHD Gallery. It was the first ever exhibition of Tom of Finland drawings in St. Louis, Missouri. “TOM of FINLAND: Original Drawings” was curated by Philip Hitchcock and was made possible…..

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Closing Reception for Tom of Finland Exhibit – St. Louis – August 7

TOM of FINLAND: Original Drawings

Concludes with A Recognition from St. Louis LGBT History Project

Closing Reception and Mixer is Sunday, August 7, 2011, 1:00 – 3:00 p.m.


The first EVER exhibition in St. Louis of ORIGINAL Tom of Finland drawings  closes with a reception. Special Guest of the gallery is The St. Louis LGBT History Project whose members will present a selection of LGBT memorabilia from their archives. To commemorate the historic exhibition of TOM of FINLAND drawings, St. Louis LGBT History Project Founder Steven Brawley will present a Certificate of Recognition to PHD Gallery owner Philip Hitchcock for his efforts in bringing this landmark body of work to the St. Louis LGBT community.  Champagne and hors d’oeuvres will be served.

PHD Gallery
2300 Cherokee Street
St. Louis, MO 63118



TOM OF FINLAND (Finnish, 1920 – 1991), Untitled (Preliminary drawing)
1988, Graphite on paper, 11.50” x 8.50”, ToFF #0399
© 1988 Tom of Finland Foundation

Founded in 2007, The St. Louis LGBT History Project  is operated by Steven Brawley (founder), Colin Murphy and Ian Darnell.

The mission of The Project is to preserve the myriad stories of The Gateway City’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender past. As a resident partner of The LGBT Center of St. Louis, The Project serves as the unofficial collecting arm for the St. Louis LGBT Archives  at UMSL, conducts and facilitates oral histories with area LGBT Elders, works with area LGBT organizations on maintaining their own archive, and seeks out and preserves LGBT history, documents, artifacts and memorabilia. The Project has developed a LGBT Walking Tour in the city’s Central West End, is available to speak on St. Louis’ LGBT History and provides displays from The Project collection. The goal of The Project is to not only celebrate and preserve our city’s LGBT History, but make it accessible through digital media. For more information .

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Tom of Finland straddled taboo and popular appeal long before the likes of Madonna and Lady Gaga

Tom of Finland A self-taught Finnish native who sought creative refuge in 1960s Los Angeles, where he was able, miraculously, to make a living drafting pencil-rendered cartoons of eroticized gay machismo, Tom of Finland straddled taboo and popular appeal long before the likes of Madonna and Lady Gaga.


A former anti-aircraft officer and commercial illustrator, Tom (a.k.a. Touko Laaksonen) harnessed essential qualities from both fields, making uniformed dress as suggestive as negligee and a clear, graphic line evocative of Norman Rockwell, Marvel comics, Vargas Girls and Warholian Pop Art. In this exhibit of his relentlessly simple and strangely delicate drawings, finished works are interspersed between incomplete sketches. Square-jawed males with barrel chests, broad shoulders, petite waists and other proportional impossibilities appear in solitary, glorified repose or explicit couplings. Yes, the work was made to titillate — but hell, so was most Greek and Roman art. And like his classical forebears, Tom graces every male figure (and Tom’s is a male-only universe) with a placid, enlightened-looking smile. The finished works exhibited here are much more demure than the sketches, the more overt sexual acts receding beneath dim erasures and incomplete limbs while suggestive gazes, sawed-off logs and rakishly angled sailor caps resonate in full black-and-white detail. This is where the work rises above genre: it’s sheer bizarreness. In a motorcyclist’s tilted hat, a single rolled-down leather boot or an outfit consisting of white gym socks and high-top sneakers, a microcosm of style and desire is written. How Tom’s beefcake homoeroticism became a standard-issue brand is another story — but such is the course of any enduring style. Through August 6 at phd Gallery, 2300 Cherokee Street; 314-664-6644 or Hours: noon-4 p.m. Thu.-Sun. and by appointment.

Jessica Baran encapsulates the St. Louis art scene