Sunday, May 20, 2007

A Day With Art

I visited two artists' studios today. The first belonged to Gary J. Speziale, an artist I came to know through one of the Dirty Little Drawings shows Leslie/Lohman Gay Art Foundation (L/L). Gary's works "Adam" and "Steve," pictured above [click images for larger versions] are fairly representative of his style and mastery. He draws and paints with amazing precision, imbuing each piece with palpable sensuality, equal parts angst and delight. The small, colored-pencil drawing that I purchased from the L/L show is called, "Twilight's Last Gleaming," and is a portrait of one of Gary's models, Matthew. I first saw "Matthew" from across the room, lost in a sea of dirty little drawings, his head cocked towards me, beckoning. I was immediately drawn in and crawled over two slobbering bears to get to him. It was as close to love at first sight as I've experienced in a while. And although it's not the first "Matthew" I've paid for, it is the first one who didn't talk back that I could bring home in an envelope with a red ribbon on it.

After making the purchase, I visited Gary's web site to find more images and was hammered. Gary's artistic ability is unquestionable and his passion is so apparent in every one of pieces, one begins to feel a bit voyeuristic. But what I think makes Gary's talent rare, is his ability to seamlessly incorporate imagery and references from both the sacred Catholic and profane gay. Granted, this is not novel territory for artists -- particularly gay -- to explore, but Gary's sublety, based I think, in his deep understanding and respect for these two sources of inspiration that inform his work, sets him apart. I contacted him to express my appreciation for the piece and his work in general, and to inquire into commissioning a piece. We're both busy guys, but diligence paid off and today I was able to visit his studio space, which is a 5-minute walk from the "Fresh Ponds" stop on the "M" line.

Entering Gary's studio is a bit like going to your grandmother's house -- if you're grandmother was a gay Italian guy who painted, I guess. What I mean by that is, his studio space, which is also where he lives is very homey. The walls are covered with gorgeous art, and the ceilings are exquisitely detailed and painted. We were together for over four hours, which I could hardly believe when I looked down at the clock. He showed me past projects, actually going back to when he was 6 years old, right up to drawings he did earlier in the week at a drawing workshop.

What an amazing experience. Thanks Gary!

Next, I stopped in to see the new Long Island City studio space of Eric Rhein. Rest assured that Eric has landed well in Long Island City after leaving the East Village. During the hour that I was there, he had many, many people showing up and complimenting his work. I'm looking forward to seeing what comes out of this new space for Eric.

1 comment:

KittKatt said...

Gary's art is indeed spectacular. I included him (and 10 other artists) in my new book "Art That Dares: Gay Jesus, Woman Christ, and More." The images on your blog, "Adam" and "Steve," are in the book, along with his incredible sculpture of "Adam and the New Adam" and "Eve and the New Eve."

In the book, his images are accompanied by a profile based on several lively interviews that I had with Gary. Here's an excerpt:

"Gary Speziale doesn’t self-consciously try to unite sexuality and spirituality in his art. Speziale is an openly gay New York artist whose art flows naturally from his full-bodied Roman Catholicism and who experiences life as one holy, homoerotic whole. “We’re living in a world where religion is being used in the most dangerous ways. Maybe we need a bunch of gay people who are very concerned with the flesh and blood of it,” he said. “If the stereotype is that we’re preoccupied with the flesh, then so be it at this time. That is probably why I’m still Catholic. It is the emphasis on the incarnational aspect.”"

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