Friday, September 28, 2012

Wildlife Art Contest Winners

"WeHo’s Plummer Park was most recently on my radar because last fall the Audubon Society – the nature conservationist group named in honor of the seminal American wildlife artist – was being ousted from their headquarters there after 75 years. This weekend, the park plays host to a somewhat different strain of wildlife art, in the form of the Tom of Finland Foundation’s annual Erotic Art Fair, now in its 17th year.

 The TOFF was founded in 1984 by Durk Dehner and Touko Laaksonen — AKA Tom of Finland, the iconic illustrator of homoerotic fetishism whose impact on gay culture began in the 50’s. Tom’s influence eventually expanded to include significant mainstream art world acceptance and, arguably, a hand in reconfiguring our entire society’s understanding of the visual symbolism of masculinity.

 It’s hard not to compare this weekend’s TOFF Erotic Art Fair with the mainstream Art Platform Fair happening simultaneously over in Santa Monica. Both extravaganzas share the same template in essence – a weekend-long popup marketplace where various purveyors of collectable artifacts try to outdo each other, punctuated by some serious partying. So far, so good.

 But the mainstream art world where Art Platform operates — as it has evolved over the last few decades, at least — is in many ways a closeted, hypocritical version of the openly libidinous aesthetics of the Erotic Art community. Having officially disavowed aesthetic pleasure (and pretty much all other qualitative criteria) sometime around 1970, The Art World has since had to pursue its sensual pleasures on the QT, devising elaborate post-structural theoretical excuses for moony figurative paintings of half-naked young’uns or Mapplethorpe’s photo of a whip handle in a butthole. It ain’t rocket science, people!..."

Read the rest of Seeking Art that Stimulates? here, on the newly launched WEHOville webzine.

Find more info on the TOFF Erotic Art Fair here.

Image: Rob Clarke's accordion-playing merman

No comments: