Rinaldo Hopf is a world renowned artist and long time friend of Tom of Finland Foundation. Before living at TOM House, his large format portrait of Tom was donated to the Foundation by a collector. Ever since it’s hung proudly in the stairwell— the first I ever knew of Hopf. He has done artist residencies all over the world, and continues to travel and make sexually liberated art. I met Rinaldo in 2017, when he came to live at TOM House as the Artist-in-Residence. He’s a charming fellow who is immensely talented with a diverse ouvre. Since 2005, Rinaldo has edited the queer anthology My Gay Eye, and has just come out with the latest issue, an homage to Tom of Finland! I had the chance to ask him some questions about TOM House, his art, and the new anthology.
You met many artists in LA who are affiliated with the Foundation. Can you talk about how they inspired you to create the latest issue of My Gay Eye?
Well, together with the art collection at TOM House, it was you L.A. artists and writers whom I met at the House who made me want to do this book. I was roommates with the jolly and charming British artist Stuart Sandford with his sexy Latino boys. I would see his sculptures coming in boxes and then lying amidst socks and underwear on his bed. I had never seen 3D prints, but there they were, and he would explain the technical process to me. Stuart introduced me to you, and you gave me your book of short stories. I read them on the long bus trips to the beach and loved them! In one of them you described perfectly what it feels like to be a writer (or artist) in residence at TOM House. Of course you described YOUR experiences, but they were not so different from mine. That was actually one of the starting points for this book.
I didn’t know that! I’m flattered. Can you talk about the community at TOM House?
There is the everyday work of the residents and the many volunteers in the archives and the library. I really liked this aspect of life at the house, it’s a changing community of very special and lovely people. There’s Marty, a librarian about 60 years old, with her little dog Cleo, who would probably not be expected to be archiving gay pornography. Or her roommate Louie, who meticulously prepared the picture materials and did most of the graphic work for the present volume. There are the daily meals together in the house or garden; the guided tours of the house, where I met staff from Sotheby’s, New York; the weekly tea salon hosted by photographer Rick Castro; the many unusual and exciting visitors, and former artists-in-residence. Some days I was so busy working I forgot to leave the premises. There there were so many interesting people around anyway.