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Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

For Your Art Celebrates Queer Art Without Boundaries

Matt Hamilton |
December 3, 2012 | 4:06 a.m. PST

Staff Reporter

Lili Lakich's "Pray the Gay Away." Photo courtesy of Facebook.
Lili Lakich's "Pray the Gay Away." Photo courtesy of Facebook.

Anything goes - and that's the point - at the Queer Pile-Up, a weeklong art show at For Your Art that concluded Saturday evening.

The works of more than 90 artists were on display at the Wilshire Boulevard gallery, with subjects that span the continuum of the queer community, from artists of all ages and levels of expertise.

No curation preceded the actual event: artists showed up, brought works of their own choosing, and 'piled' it up.

"We don't say yes or no," said Darin Klein, who organized the Queer Pile-Up, which is now in its third year, with Suzanne Wright.

The Pile-Up was comprised of sculpture, painting, photography, short films, live performance and a piece of neon art by the legendary Lili Lakich.

Lakich's neon frieze - a profile of Jesus with a bedazzled crown of thorns, beneath a blue, neon script reading "Pray the Gay Away," was the centerpiece of the show, if a show with no boundaries can have a centerpiece. Lakich said her inspiration was the current political climate and the failed presidential bid of Rep. Michelle Bachman whose husband, Marcus, ran a clinic to 'heal' individuals of a homosexual attraction.

"I wanted to show the hypocrisy...with something very beautiful," said Lakich, who added that the piece will enter the private collection of Bryan Singer, director of "The Usual Suspects," after the show.

Lakich gave a brief lecture on her piece during the closing reception, discussed her work with neon, and alluded to the lure of the gaseous light - all of which she chronicled in her memoir, "Lakich: For Light. For Love. For Life."

Since the Queer Pile-Up concluded on World AIDS Day, Lakich also made mention of her series of neon sculpture developed in 1988 and dedicated to victims of AIDS, "For All the Young Men Dying."
Other notable pieces at the Queer Pile-Up included John Arsenault's photograph, "I Heart Men," which features a man donning a flannel, with pierced ears, installing rhinestones on a tree in the middle of the woods; Gregorio Davila's spraypainted and stenciled piece on We'wha, a two-spirited Zuni native American who embodies male and female characteristics, and Ruben Esparza's "Silencio=Muerte."

Klein said he expects the Queer Pile-Up to return to For Your Art for a fourth year and to continue welcoming and celebrating the work of queer artists.

Lakich reflected on the Pile-Up and deemed it necessary given the politics of the Los Angeles art scene.

"We're force-fed by the major museums," said Lakich. "All the major museums are directed by New Yorkers...and we don't get a chance to see the work of gay people."

The Queer Pile-Up, which is free and encourages even drop-in, unplanned performances, also featured on Saturday a salon-style gathering titled WTF!, or Women Together...Fantastic! Works included in WTF! were a live performance by Tara Jane O'Neil and short films by Onya Hogan-Finlay, Kim Kelly, and Dylan Mira.

Reach reporter Matt here and follow him on Twitter here.



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