RUBÉN ESPARZA “Piss + Blood & Spunk: Seminal Works 1993-2019” | 8th June | TOM House

Digital Flux (Santana Camefeo) 25, 26, 27, 2015-2018, Archival pigment print, 16″ x 16″ each

Rubén Esparza combines the skills of a multi-media artist and the insight of a gifted curator to synergize intensely cross-referential artworks. Queer AIDS tropes, phallocentrism, and bodily fluids become markers of LGBTQ+ culture from the early ’90s to the contemporary Trumpian zeitgeist.

GLoves (Blood Drive), a 1995 triptych, epitomizes many themes of Esparza’s oeuvre. The artist, culturally imprinted by a Latinx heritage, moved to Los Angeles from Houston, after his lover died of AIDS. To memorialize the death and cope with grief, Esparza secured a phlebotomist and invited friends to donate blood that he then dripped onto brightly hued latex gloves. Uniting the conceptual with the visual makes for an arresting, colorful overlay to a disturbing piece of activist art, swirling sadness and AIDS anger together in the same mixed-media piece.

Digital Flux, series, 2015-18and the clever 2019 protest portrait of POTUS – Goon, Con, Troll – are harvested from a collection of objet trouvé internet images. Esparza downloads the pictures and manipulates them with dot matrixes and grids. Sometimes he paints semen and swashes of Warholian colors onto the faces of his subjects as an extension of his print photomontages. Hand-cut and pasted-up porn magazine pages graphically homoeroticize whimsical adorations of the penis. These analog collages form the underpinning to his digital pastiches that employ complex computer manipulations to create an inventive layering. Coded into these handmade amalgamations is a commentary heralded by a blast of hard-core queer smut from another time; together they retrieve a culture vanquished by the internet age. Esparza revivifies print porn as he creates outrageously sexual erotica that gives homage to a vanished genre of gay civilization.

This exhibition of 20 of Ruben Esparza’s most potent pieces includes a survey of the artists, art influencers and scenesters who frequent TOM House, and who Esparza has photographed in a collection of Polaroids. The most sensational shot being a self-portrait…floating in a mason jar of urine.

–Phil Tarley, curator

GLoves (Blood Drive), 1995, Mixed media, gloves, blood, mounted on acrylic, painted canvas with clear Lucite frame, 12″ x 12″ x 3″ each

Goon Con Troll (From x48 Trump series, 2016-2019, Mixed media, digital and analog artworks, Sizes variable

Rubén Esparza (b.1962) is a Los Angeles artist and curator. His work is part of the permanent collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, and the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago. Esparza is the founder and director of the Queer Biennial, an exhibition anchored in Los Angeles that surveys international queer and Latinx art. Grants and awards, include: Department of Cultural Affairs, Los Angeles, National Endowment for the Arts, West Hollywood Arts, Tom of Finland Foundation, City of Los Angeles Mayor’s Office.

Self Portrait Piss Jar, 2019, Polaroid, urine and jar

“Besides Esparza’s self-portrait jar of piss, the exhibit features erotic queer polaroids, homoeroticized whimsical adorations of the penis, collage artworks taken from fast-disappearing porn magazines, and more! ‘Piss + Blood & Spunk’ is a commentary heralded by hardcore queer obscenity from another time, brought back into this internet age.” – Jessica Romoff, Flaunt

Reception: Saturday, 7 to 10p
Opening night events include performances and happenings by: Oscar David Alvarez, FleshPiece, Ridge Gallagher, Jordan Michael Green, Jamison Karon, Marval A Rex, and Sheree Rose.


On view by appointment through 6th July.


“Piss + Blood & Spunk: Seminal Works 1993-2019” – Terremoto

“Rubén Esparza Piss + Blood & Spunk, Seminal Works 1993–2019 is on view by appointment at the Tom of Finland Foundation in Los Angeles through Monday, July 6. The solo exhibition presents work made by the L.A.-based Esparza over the past 25 years.” – The Editors of ARTnews

Performance photos by Miguel Angeles Reyes

Chicano artist reproduces historic LGBTQ protest signs.

Rubén Esparza’s unique style fuses painting, drawing, and digital work with elements of Chicano and Queer culture. Through his art, and curating of exhibitions, he promotes a strong sense of activism. In his project entitled “From the Archives to the Archives” reproduces LGBTQ protest signs from the ’60s through the ’90s.

Esparza currently has an exhibition on display in Los Angeles at the Tom of Finland Foundation, a hub for LGBTQ artists from around the world.

By Anabel Munoz and Jose Mayorquin

Opening photos by Miguel Angeles Reyes

Phil St. John | 23rd September | LA

Diary of a Puerto Rican Porno
New Book Signing
The Classic Porn of Phil St. John
Premier Screening of Documentary Feature 

Production still from Getting It At The Rave

The only fellow of The American Film Institute ever inducted into The Gay Porn Hall of Fame, Phil St. John, presents a doubleheader on September 23rd at the Tom of Finland Foundation with his book signing of Diary of a Puerto Rican Porno followed by the world premiere of his documentary feature film The Classic Porn of Phil St. John that chronicles St. John’s legendary 25 years directing gay porn all over the world.

Diary of a Puerto Rican Porno is an action-adventure, sexually outrageous filmmaking odyssey. St. John takes his boyfriend and a porn star bottom to the land of the “big tops” to make Foreskin Island and Return to Foreskin Island, two tropical dick movies shot back-to-back in the jungles near San Juan. The moviemaking is fraught with knife fights, sexual intrigue, nervous breakdowns, tropical depressions, secret marijuana smuggling, and true cinematic, pornographic love.

The book is also available from Tom of Finland Store. Cover Art by Miguel Angel Reyes.


Also on view will be framed photographic prints from some of St. John’s movies.

$5 suggested donation



“Breathlessly paced, colorful, and just a little scary, the book tells us the almost hallucinatory insanity of making porn. And it’s real.”

DRAWN. PRINTED. BOUND. Tom of Finland Art and Culture Festival

Shortly after Taschen Books published their gargantuan collection of Tom of Finland’s best work, the Museum of Contemporary Art featured ToF in a major exhibition, effectively bringing his brown paper bagged portraits of male nudes out from porn shops, where the works had always lived. The MOCA exhibit was the first time an American museum mounted a show that showed men mounting each other. When Rizzoli’s TOM House, published, I went to the David Kordansky Gallery for the book signing party. Kordansky is now selling original works of the Finnish, master-illustrator, for six figure sums. Clearly, ToF has arrived as potent force on the international art scene. Two films, a documentary and a narrative feature are in post production. MOCA’S ToF presentation and the Getty’s companion Mapplethorpe show with LACMA, are break through exhibitions that mirror the Tom of Finland Foundation’s raison d’être: fighting sex phobia in the art world, and by extension, in the world at large.

This year marks the 21st annual Tom of Finland Art and Culture Festival, and its taking over the entire landmark property, called TOM House, where Tom of Finland Foundation has operated since 1984. The Festival is one of the key public events initiated and run by the Foundation, and serves as a platform to further its mission of protecting, preserving and promoting erotic art. This year’s program will focus on art and printed matter, with special guests that include artists and independent brands that specialize in printmaking across various mediums within gay culture.

The Festival will encompass works by more than 30 artists, literati and independent brands, both emerging and established, from all over the world. This is one sexy, well hung show. It’s always been daring and fun. Some of the best work have a wild, fierce intensity. Along with art for sale by their makers, an array of entertainment and activities over the course of the two dates are planned.

Durk Dehner, President of ToF foundation believes that, “art and books have brought beauty into our lives and introduced audiences to the vast span of the wonders of the creative world. The Foundation, with its library and archives, celebrates both artist and publisher at our Festival this year with a sumptuous representation of both.”

Galleries include: Please Do Not Enter, Rick Castro/Antebellum, Round Hole Square Peg/AC Gallery and Ruben Esparza Curatorial.  Some of the artists represented are: Alton DuLaney, Boston Elements,  Gio Black Peter, Homo Riot, Jeremy Lucida, Lockwood 51, Michael Kirwan, Miguel Angel Reyes, Mei Xian Qiu, Pansy Ass, Starrfucker, Valentine and Van Jazmin. There will be music by DJ RocketManLA.

The fair will be open on Saturday and Sunday from 11 am – 6 pm. And there is a Saturday fashion show and party from 6 -10 pm. TOM House is located at 1421 Laveta Terrace, Los Angeles (Echo Park). Visit Eventbrite for tickets or the Foundation for more information. HERE