New Exhibition Highlights 35 Years of LGBTQ Community Portraits by Lenore Chinn  

Veronica Passalacqua, Amari Passalacqua and Hulleah J. Tsinhnahjinnie (2016); color photograph. Copyright © Lenore Chinn.

Veuxdo in the Fillmore (2012); acrylic on canvas. Copyright © Lenore Chinn.

“Picturing Kinship: Portraits of Our Community,” a new exhibition offering a 35-year overview of portraits in painting and photography by San Francisco artist Lenore Chinn, opens on June 9 at the GLBT History Museum.

The subjects of the artist’s portraits are individuals who have contributed to the diversity of San Francisco’s cultural landscape in such fields as poetry, visual and performing arts, film, rock music, academia, and the LGBTQ movement. The exhibition is curated by Tirza True Latimer, chair of the graduate program in visual and critical studies at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco.

“Portraiture is at the core of my visual art practice whether it is painting or photography — both are employed in my creative process,” notes Chinn. “As a local artist, I focus on the depiction of a wide spectrum of people in all their diversity — women, people of color and the LGBTQ community. Collectively these images are visual narratives that constitute an art history largely hidden from the public’s perception of society and our particular cultural experience.

“My portraits reflect the many overlapping communities in which I move or which I have some connection to,” Chinn adds. “Many are colleagues or friends I have chronicled over three decades, so the viewer will see domestic partners, young men now departed due to HIV/AIDS and people from a wide variety of ethnic groups. Some have been involved in laying the groundwork for changing city policy pertaining to our civil rights, others are from my sociopolitical milieu. Together they have been pioneers in creating visibility and an infrastructure for our communities.”

“Picturing Kinship” runs June 9 through September 18 at the GLBT History Museum, 4127 18th St., San Francisco. An opening reception on Friday, June 9, from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. will feature comments from the artist and the curator along with light refreshments.


Lenore Chinn. Detail of Butler’ s View (1993); acrylic on canvas self-portrait. Copyright © Lenore Chinn.

ABOUT THE ARTIST

Lenore Chinn is a second-generation Asian American painter, photographer, and activist whose work has been shown nationally for more than three decades. Her paintings are based in the Bay Area tradition of photorealism, with its practice of creating large-scale acrylics inspired by photographs of everyday life. At the same time, her iconography escapes photorealist convention by focusing on LGBTQ relationships, racial and ethnic diversity, and Chinese-American culture and kinship.

Chinn has long been active as a San Francisco community organizer who works to create structures of personal and institutional support that will both sustain critical artistic production and advance movements for social justice. She was an original member of Lesbians in the Visual Arts, is a co-founder of the Queer Cultural Center and has been active in the Asian American Women Artists Association since the group was founded. From 1988 to 1992, she served on the San Francisco Human Rights Commission.


Tirza True Latimer. Photo: Wanda Corn.

 

ABOUT THE CURATOR

Tirza True Latimer is the associate professor and chair of the graduate program in visual and critical studies at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco. She has curated numerous exhibitions, most recently “Seeing Gertrude Stein: Five Stories” for the Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco, in partnership with the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. Latimer coauthored with Wanda Corn a companion book, also titled Seeing Gertrude Stein: Five Stories (University of California Press, 2011).

Latimer’s published work reflects on modern and contemporary visual culture from queer feminist perspectives. She is coeditor with Whitney Chadwick of the anthology The Modern Woman Revisited: Paris Between the Wars (Rutgers University Press, 2003). She is the author of Women Together/Women Apart: Portraits of Lesbian Paris (Rutgers University Press, 2005). Latimer’s latest book, Eccentric Modernisms: Making Differences in the History of American Art (University of California Press, 2016), builds on archival research conducted for the Stein exhibition and book.

 

THE GLBT History Museum: Free Admission on Harvey Milk Day

Harvey Milk preparing to speak following the Gay Freedom Day Parade in San Francisco (June 1978). Photo: Crawford Barton, from the archives of GLBT Historical Society.
A young visitor to the GLBT History Museum listens intently to Harvey Milk’s recorded political will. A portrait of Milk is in the background. Photo: Gerard Koskovich.

The State of California annually marks Harvey Milk’s birthday, May 22 as Harvey Milk Day, as a statewide day of significance. The GLBT History Museum will honor the occasion this year by offering free admission to all visitors throughout the day. The museum is located at 4127 18th St. in San Francisco’s Castro District. It will be open 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Harvey Milk Day.

Harvey Milk (1930-1978) was the first openly gay elected official in California and one of the first in the United States. He served on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors for 11 months before he and San Francisco Mayor George Moscone were shot to death on November 27, 1978, by Dan White, a former board colleague of Milk’s. The GLBT History Museum commemorates Harvey Milk on an ongoing basis in a number of ways.

 

Queer Past Becomes Present,” the long-term exhibition in the museum’s Main Gallery, includes an exhibit on Milk’s life and death. Among the historical objects on display are the bullhorn Milk used to lead many protest marches and the suit he was wearing at the moment he was assassinated. Visitors also can hear Milk’s voice in the political will he recorded when he was serving on the Board of Supervisors.

 

In addition, the museum shop offers a reproduction of a historical t-shirt produced by the legal defense committee that raised funds on behalf of protesters arrested during the White Night Riot, an uprising that took place at San Francisco City Hall after a jury found Dan White guilty of manslaughter instead of murder in the killings of Milk and Moscone. Also available in the museum shop are reproductions of a t-shirt produced for Milk’s 1977 campaign for the Board of Supervisors, as well as postcards reproducing historical photographs of Milk.

Among the materials preserved in the archives of the GLBT Historical Society is the Harvey Milk and Scott Smith Collection, an extensive group of Milk’s personal belongings. The collection and other holdings in the society’s archives provide a vital resource for historians and others seeking to understand Milk’s story. Notably, the collections were used by the art directors and costume designers for Gus van Sant’s award-winning 2008 feature film “MILK” and by the producers of the recent ABC miniseries “When We Rise.”

Fighting Back: Development vs. LGBTQ Preservation

Fighting Back: Development VS LGBTQ Preservation

Tuesday, May 23
7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
The GLBT History Museum
4127 18th St., San Francisco
Admission: Free; $5.00 donation welcome

Demolition of the Tool Box, an early leather bar (1975). Photo by Henri Leleu from the archives of the GLBT Historical Society.
The latest in our monthly “Fighting Back” series exploring contemporary queer-community issues in a historical context, this multigenerational conversation will feature panelists from preservation battles in San Francisco’s LGBTQ community.
 
Panelists will focus in particular on initiatives in San Francisco’s SoMa neighborhood, including the Ringold Alley Project, the Eagle Plaza and the Stud bar. They’ll lead a discussion of strategies for preserving LGBTQ heritage: What has worked and what hasn’t? What new approaches are possible? Can development and preservation coexist?
 
The forum will be facilitated by architectural historian Shayne Watson, chair of the GLBT Historical Society’s Historic Places Working Group, along with working group member and local historian Jim Van Buskirk. The following panelists will participate:
 
Gerry Takano, founding member of the Friends of 1800, San Francisco’s first LGBTQ preservation group.
 
Gayle Rubin, renowned LGBTQ anthropologist and leather scholar.
 

Demetri Moshoyannis, advisory committee member for the soon-to-be-unveiled Ringold Alley interpretive landscape project.

Nate Allbee, cofounder of The Stud Collective, the group that saved the eponymous South of Market bar.

STAGED READING Rhino in the Castro: In the Heart of America

  
Staged Reading
Rhino in the Castro: In the Heart of America
Monday, June 5
7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
The GLBT History Museum
4127 18th St., San Francisco
Admission: Free; $5.00 Donation Welcome

Theatre Rhinoceros, San Francisco’s groundbreaking queer stage company, has teamed up with the GLBT History Museum to present “Rhino in the Castro,” a series of readings of plays reflecting the LGBTQ community and our allies. The museum provides the space, and Rhino provides the scripts and actors. This month’s offering is “In the Heart of America” by Naomi Wallace. During the First Gulf War, Craver, “white trash” from Tennessee, and Remiz, a Palestinian American, served together and fell in love. Later, Remzi’s sister wants to know what happened to her brother.

EXHIBITION OPENING Picturing Kinship: Portraits of Our Community

Exhibition Opening
Picturing Kinship: Portraits of Our Community  
Friday, June 9
7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
The GLBT History Museum
4127 18th St., San Francisco
Admission: $5.00; Free for members

A new exhibition offering a 35-year overview of portraits in painting and photography by San Francisco artist Lenore Chinn. Her work depicts a wide spectrum of women and men, people of color and the LGBTQ community. The subjects are largely individuals who have contributed to San Francisco’s cultural landscape in fields ranging from poetry to visual and performing arts, film, rock music, academia and the LGBTQ movement. They have been pioneers in creating visibility for queer communities — and Lenore’s portraits of them constitute a reflection of LGBTQ experience that has been largely invisible in mainstream narratives of contemporary art. The opening will feature comments from the artist along with light refreshments. “Picturing Kinship” runs through September 18 at the GLBT History Museum.