Thursday, May 28, 2009

More Inspiration from Jim Arter

A few posts back, I wrote about attending the Forte fundraiser honoring our fabulous friend, Jim Arter, for his work as an artist and top-notch advocate for the GLBT community. He was kind enough to share his acceptance speech so that I could post it here. His words really resonated with me, and I hope to embody some of the same tireless enthusiasm and creative energy that earned him this distinction:

“It is a great honor to accept the first Forte Award from the Columbus Gay Men’s Chorus on the campus of the Ohio State University. Ironically forty two years ago, tonight, I was at Ohio State but instead of celebrating I was confined to the lock-down psychiatric unit of Upham Hall at University Hospital learning to cope with being gay. At that time homosexuality was considered a mental illness. Growing up in Newark, Ohio I didn’t know other GLBT people. There was no Will & Grace or gay bars in 'Nerk' in 1967. I thought there was me and maybe Liberace, but he was probably just artistic. I met my first group of gay brothers & sisters in that psychiatric unit where we were locked away for safe keeping. After years of therapy I grew to accept who I was and realized the importance of coming out, speaking out and reaching out to community. Thus began my lifetime of work in the arts, community and advocating for social justice.

Similar is the story of the Chorus. When a small group of five men singing around a piano in someone’s basement made the decision to expand their numbers, come out of the basement and present concerts to the public, the best P.R. blitz for our Gay community was born. Eventually I invited my family to attend a Christmas Concert by the Chorus and I believe it brought some healing and a better understanding between my father and me.

Each of us in some fashion has suffered, each has known some form of discrimination, and each person has their story to tell. The challenge is not to crumble beneath the weight of our individual struggles but to recognize struggle as a common theme in all our stories. Then with brains, great courage and love reach out to those who appear different from us and embrace them as family. For me the first step was getting honest with myself, then others, about who I really was as a person. So I challenge each of us to NEVER accept or support a doctrine of 'Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell' in any aspect of our lives. Whether it is a straight jacket of guilt and shame, or the injustice of institutions that try to blindfold us from the light of truth, each of us holds the key to our freedom…we must simply speak our truths and live our lives openly with pride. The key to our happiness…is sharing your life and talents in service to others.

In the movie 'The Wizard of Oz' the angelic voices sang to Dorothy and her friends…'Come out of the woods, come out of the dark, step into the light.' Here in Columbus we are privileged to travel our yellow brick roads accompanied by the voices of the Columbus Gay Men’s Chorus. For that I am grateful.

Forty two years ago I would never have imagined that a premiere Gay organization would present me with an award for doing what I love to do. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. 'We’ve come a long way baby!' But, we have 'miles to go before we sleep, and miles to go before we sleep.'”

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Show and Tell

I'm going to be participating in a few upcoming Columbus shows:

My painting "Elegant Imbalance" will be included in an exhibit called "The Circus," curated by Nikos Rutkowski and Sarah Weinstock, which is a part of the Franklinton Arts District's Go West! celebration of the arts taking place in two converted art spaces - 937 W. Broad St. and 897 W. Broad St. — and at the Franklinton Development Association (FDA) office at 922 W. Broad St. Go West! runs from 4-9 p.m., Saturday, May 30.

I'm also excited to once again be participating in Stonewall's annual Exhibit of Pride Art Show. My paintings "The Dollypop Guild," "The Cher Within," and "Noah's Gay Wedding Cruise" were accepted by jurors Michelle Lach and Nicholas Hill into the show, which opens on Saturday, June 6 from 6pm -10pm. 20% of the artists’ sales will be donated to the center. Artwork will remain on display at the Stonewall Columbus Center on High, 1160 N. High St., throughout the month of June.


The super-awesome site Queerty gave "Noah's Gay Wedding Cruise" a plug today. Thanks, guys!

What If Noah's Ark Was Actually a Rosie O'Donnell Cruise?

THE SHOT — Artist Paul Richmond created "Noah's Gay Wedding Cruise" because "I've been so incredibly moved by demonstrations across the country in support of marriage equality, and I believe we’re on the cusp of great progress." The result? "I chose to symbolize our inevitable victory with my own version of the Noah’s Ark story, complete with some drowning sinners (including Ann Coulter, Larry Craig, Sally Kern, Fred Phelps, and even Pat Boone!), and a grand ark/cruise ship filled with happy gay and lesbian animal couples and a few famous human guests too (such as Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi, Elton John and David Furnish, and Rosie O’Donell and Kelli Carpenter). Even the fictional cowboys from Brokeback Mountain get another shot at love in this epic re-telling of a biblical classic!"

A print run of just 200 are available for purchase.

Snow White-ology

For my next exhibit, I’m planning to put a gay/glam spin on the fairy tale classic “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.” My version, “Lily White and the Seven Divas,” will use symbols and imagery from the original story (along with some new additions) to tell the tale of a young, androgynous boy coming into his own -- by way of a colorfully inhabited enchanted forest of course!

In my previous post, “Wardrobe Malfunction,” I posted some pics of my first attempt to find suitable costuming to help me transform into an appropriately glamorous heroine. Fortunately, with the help of my fashion consultant, Maria, we’ve made some progress since then.

There’s much more to come, but I love the red corset (left), and I think the simple yellow shorts would be great with some tights and platform boots. Now, before you start filling out a submission form for “What Not to Wear” on my behalf, I guess I should probably explain my goal here -- I’m going for a combination of classic maiden (hence the laced-up corset) and Ziggy Stardust (hence everything else) for the Lily White character. Once I piece together the costume fully (which will also involve a wacky headpiece and some kind of white, sheer top), I’ll stage a photo shoot with some of my most adventurous friends to get the reference photos together.

My plan (at this point) is to do a series of elaborate, narrative paintings exploring my version of the story. I’m also contemplating a possible sculptural component as well (a life-size, glass-coffined self-portrait). Of course this is all VERY preliminary, but I’m going to use my blog to document the process (and progress) of this crazy endeavor.

I’ve been reading various interpretations of the Snow White story and commentary about its symbolism in preparation. Since I’m interested in using it as a metaphor for self-exploration, I’ve been particularly interested in some of the essays analyzing it in that context.

In “Analysis of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves” by Stephen Flynn, the author uses the other characters in the story to symbolize various stages in Snow White’s own development.

“Uniformity starts to emerge when we read how the queen died at the birth of her child and after her death her husband, '..the king took another wife'(Grimm 1984:188). This is the only mention of Snow Whites' father. He is an indolent father because he utterly fails to protect his child from the murderous hands of his new wife. This indolent father figure is also shared with ‘Cinderella’ and perhaps ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ who does not seem to have a father at all. Common to all these tales is the fact that the negative aspect of the masculine (indolent father) cannot be integrated and this can result in a denial of the masculine...

The 'absent one' in a persons life or the one least mentioned usually has an enormous contribution to make. Our heroine starts out with an almost non-existent father figure or 'Animus’ and at this stage the mother is dead. This state of the psyche is tragic. It lacks a caring mother image and a father who cannot stand up for her and ‘doing nothing’ is the most expressive form of violence because the very act of non-doing prevents its own cure. He doesn’t offer any suggestions, guidance or even attempt to control the raging forces within her personified by the wicked step-mother. He does nothing against the raging opposite. The counter balance to the weak Animus is an inflated negative feminine 'shadow' which ... is totally unconscious....and... seems to possess a peculiar wisdom of its own...'(Jung1981:233f) in the form of the step mother. The whole story seems to be about Snow White eventually finding her prince, the tenth male figure, before she is able to face and tame the rage within.”

In “The Symbolism of Snow White” by JM Kellam, a similar theme is suggested:

“Girardot parallels the story of Snow White to a symbolic story of a girl's maturation. He sees importance not only in the blood-red color as symbolizing menstruation, but also in the red, white, and black trio. These colors appear together in societies during the situation of initiation (Girardot 283). By initiation, Girardot is describing the changing of man or beginning of a new man (Girardot 285). The three colors of the trio represent the three parts of the life cycle. The black is representative of death or the end of life, white is purification, and red is rebirth when life is started anew (Girardot). A theme seen in the story, as represented by the color trio, as well as the blood-red, is transformation. The story can be seen as a symbolic story of a child maturing into adulthood.”

Later in the article, she offers some interesting interpretation of the classic, sleeping princess scenario:

"...what may seem like a period of deathlike passivity at the end of childhood is nothing but a time of quiet growth and preparation, from which the person will awake mature, ready for sexual union" (Bettelheim 232). Maria Tatar points out how the glass coffin puts Snow White's beauty on display. The marriage of the prince and Snow White is Snow White's final step into adulthood. "She is a whole person now, complete in her sexuality, womanhood, and socialization."

Artist inspiration: Eugenio Recuenco

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


My work got a mention on the site Genderfork today. Genderfork is a really interesting blog, with multiple contributors, that explores androgyny and gender variance through art. Check them out HERE. On their site today, Kate wrote:

Paul Richmond's Art

Mr. Richmond’s paintings are sensitive, controversial, & beautiful. Even if they didn’t deal with gender variance & homosexuality, they are lovely enough that I’d still want them in my home. My favorites are Room With A View & The Cher Within. His paintings are available for purchase in his Etsy shop.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Hot and Bothered (Thanks to Photoshop)

I'm starting a new painting called "Pin-Up Payback" for a show at the Veaux Gallery in Chelsea called 'Hot & Bothered: Sexuality Post-Feminism" this summer. It will be a triptych showing three modern-day male celebs caught in compromising, classic cheesecake-esque states of undress. Meanwhile, through the windows and doors of the apartment buildings behind them (a panoramic neighborhood scene that spans all three canvasses), fully dressed pin-up girls of yesteryear watch the scene unfold, enjoying their new roles as spectators.

I've been using Photoshop to make references for many of my recent pieces, modifying and merging various photos to work out my compositions before I start the sketch on paper. For this piece, my friend Brian took some rather silly photos of me dropping my pants (all in the name of art!), and without setting foot in the gym I was able to transform into beefcake-worthy material thanks to the fabulous Warp tool.

I don't want to give away too much of the piece just yet, but I thought I'd share a rather humorous before/after reference shot with you:

Now if only there was a Warp tool available for real life!

By the way, check out this site for some hilarious commentary on the work of Art Frahm, one of the classic cheesecake artists who had a knack for combining falling underwear with grocery shopping. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Inspiration: Jim Arter

This weekend, Dennis and I had the pleasure of attending a fabulous event honoring one of our dearest friends, Jim Arter. What could be better than a big, gay, 80's prom honoring a truly inspirational, community (and personal) hero? I'll tell you -- getting to sit at the same table as the guest of honor!

The Columbus Gay Men's Chorus hosts an annual fundraising event called Forte, and this year they presented their inaugural Forte Award, which honors someone who represents the group's mission of combining artistic expression with social action. Well, they couldn't have chosen a better recipient than my friend Jim Arter. In addition to being an incredible artist himself (not to mention a foremost Judy Garland expert!), Jim works with the Greater Columbus Arts Council and pioneered an arts-based after school program for inner-city youth that became the pilot program for the award-winning Children of the Future. He also helped develop the "Art for Life" auction, a huge event in Columbus that helps raise funds for the Columbus Aids Task Force.

I met Jim the night of my opening at the Ohio Art League gallery when he introduced himself and very humbly asked me to autograph the postcard for my exhibit. Since then, he's been my biggest cheerleader, and has helped me make some important connections within the art community. My favorite Jim memory was when he welcomed us into his home and generously spent an evening sharing insights from his journey, which has taken him all over the world spreading his infectious love for the arts to everyone along the way.

The Forte event was great fun! Of course the gays came out in droves wearing 80's regalia that was fluffed and bedazzled to the max. Quite impressive! They had a silent auction (to which I donated some prints), and we enjoyed a fantastic meal, a performance by Vox (an ensemble from the Columbus Gay Men's Chorus), and then the presentation of Jim's award. His speech was really moving -- especially when he talked about his first experience being on OSU's campus (which was also the location for this event) forty two years prior. Circumstances were a bit different then. At that time, he was confined to the lock-down psychiatric unit learning to cope with being gay because homosexuality was considered a mental illness. Before then, he didn't even know any other GLBT people. To quote his speech, "I thought there was me and maybe Liberace, but he was probably just artistic."

It was quite profound to be there and witness a room full of gay men honoring him forty two years later for having such a profound impact on our community. I know he's made a tremendous impression on me, and I'm so grateful for his friendship, encouragement, and inspiration. Congratulations, Jim! Judy would be proud!

This is a photo of me with Bryan Knicely, President of the Greater Columbus Arts Council, and his new Batmobama print courtesy of the silent auction.

And here's a link to see all of my photos from the Forte Event:

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A Cover is Born

I just finished my latest cover project which is for the forthcoming book “The Golden Age of Gay Fiction” by MLR Press. I thought it would be fun to share some glimpses into the process of bringing this happy little gay scene to life...

The editor, Wayne Gunn, envisioned a 60’s-era chance encounter between two strapping young fellows perusing a book rack for gay pulp novels -- and discovering each other in the process. After doing some research at the awesome site Gay on the Range, I took photo references of my partner, Dennis, and friend, Brian, who were both great sports despite some initial reluctance (and my constant nagging to intensify their come-hither gazes).

Then I began sketching...and the pompadours just kept growing! Also at this point, I was given some really interesting insights from Mr. Gunn about the culture of the era – specifically that gay pulp novels were often intermingled with hetero-themed romances in order for shoppers on the DL to peruse discreetly. He said that they would usually even purchase two or three other items just to conceal their “scandalous” merchandise.

Here’s the sketch that was approved.

Then I transferred my drawing to Gessobord (which is my new favorite thing!), and painted it in oil. The little gay pulp covers nestled in amongst their straight brethen on the book racks were especially fun. And here’s the final result, coming to a bookstore near you this summer -- and you never know what (or who) else may be may be awaiting you there... ;)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Wardrobe Malfunction

My friend Maria and I paid a visit to one of my all-time favorite places this evening, the costume shop. I was doing research for a new painting series that combines a gay-glam aesthetic with fairy tale imagery. I was hoping to find inspiration for my main character's costume which will be modern, sexy, androgynous, and also incorporate some Renaissance-ish, princessy flair. Let's just say we have a ways to go. Snow White I am not -- at least not yet!

Ugly (Frumpy) Duckling, perhaps.
Next stop - at the friendly costume shop clerk's recommendation - thrift store lingerie aisles. And you can bet my camera will be in tow...

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Inspiration: Melissa Vogley Woods

I recently had the pleasure of coordinating an exhibit for a super-fabulous local artist and wanted to share her work. She combines drawing, painting, quilting, and photography in really beautiful and unexpected ways. I completely get lost in the bright, whimsical zaniness of it all. But I think what I love most is that there often seems to be more to the story. Whether she’s exploring theories of crowd-mentality through complex repetition of her nostalgic “Sunbonnet Sue” character or merging layers of abstract patterning with illustrative figurative compositions, Melissa’s work is both high and lowbrow (whatever that really means), retro and modern, beautiful and conceptual...I could go on, but you get the idea. Check it out for yourself and add on all the adjectives you like:

And if you're hung up on certain preconceived, outdated notions about quilting – watch out. Sunbonnet Sue has a gun!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Studio Muse

Photo: Brian Williams


I’m looking forward to participating in the upcoming Agora show at Junctionview Studios in Columbus. My contributions are “The Dollypop Guild” and “The Cher Within.”

Agora is an immersive event that brings artists and art patrons together to celebrate Central Ohio's diverse and talented creative community. Agora guests have the opportunity to view and purchase hundreds of works of art, wander through fifty working artists' studios, and watch performances by dancers, musicians, and theatre groups. Each Agora is unique. The experience is shaped by the artists and performers that participate. The maze-like layout of Junctionview Studios provides the perfect environment for guests to look around and explore.

AGORA 6 Preview
Friday, May 15, 2009

Saturday, May 16, 2009