‘History should be honest,’ Gov. Jerry Brown says in signing the state law, which had sparked hot debate among legislators.
July 15, 2011|By Patrick McGreevy, Los Angeles Times
Reporting from SacramentoGov. Jerry Brown signed legislation Thursday making California the first state to require that school textbooks and history lessons include the contributions of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans.
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.
TOM OF FINLAND
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 www.phdstl.com. Hours: noon-4 p.m. Thu.-Sun. and by appointment.
Jessica Baran encapsulates the St. Louis art scene