We are very pleased to announce that we have received a grant to help cover the cost of supplies and materials from the Cleveland Leather Awareness Weekend (CLAW). Our heartfelt thanks goes out to everyone on the grants committee for recognizing Tom’s legacy and for acknowledging Tom of Finland Foudation’s dedication to protecting, preserving and promoting erotic art around the world. We also want to extend our warmest regards to Gary Fledgemaker for his meticulous attention to detail when approaching this laborious and time consuming task.
The funds requested will be used primarily for the C L A W / Tom of Finland Restoration and Preservation Project, a time sensitive endeavor through which professional conservator Gerald H. Fledgemaker will begin the meticulous and time consuming process of bleaching, deacidifying and or transferring Tom’s private collection of fascinating reference materials from corrosive and corroding standard bond typing paper to acid-free archival paper, protected in costly polyester sleeves. For many years, visitors to the Foundation’s archive and offices at TOM House, were treated to a rare glimpse at the many binders containing images clipped from drawings, personal photos, newspapers, magazines, advertisements and vintage pornography by Touko Laaksonen (Tom of Finland), who arranged and sometimes augmented these photos to be used as the artistic inspirations for some of the most widely recognized erotic artwork ever made.
Recently, college interns from California Institute for the Arts proposed that these works were more than simple reference materials, and are, in fact actual hand-made erotic collages worthy of exhibition in their own right. Together with the Foundation, renowned fetish photographer and gallerist Rick Castro launched the first exhibition, Public & Private, of these materials, to wide acclaim. Not only will preserving these works help us continue our efforts to preserve Tom’s legacy, they afford us the opportunity to show future generations how the most influential erotic artist of our time created the works that changed the way Gay men thought of themselves and the way the world at large perceived of Gay men.