The AIDS era of the 1980s and 90s was awful: the horror of people dying, the horror of our government denying funding for research and medications, the resulting demonstrations and culture wars. During that time, thirty years ago, the City of West Hollywood was founded out of an unincorporated portion of Los Angeles County, the first municipality with a lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgendered/queer (LGBTQ) city council. During that time artists and activists created powerful pieces and created important changes in health care and perceptions. HIV/AIDS is no longer a death sentence, LGBTQ are gaining more recognition and rights, including the recent Supreme Court marriage equality decision.
Now in West Hollywood, the two-part exhibition “Art AIDS America” offers a multi-tiered historical perspective on the response to HIV/AIDS over the past three decades. Surveying the early 1980s to the present, this exhibition reintroduces and explores a spectrum of artistic responses to HIV/AIDS: angry, outspoken, political, pained, mournful. Of special note is effect these expressions had in shifting American art from abstract/conceptual to the political, personal and autobiographical—themes seen today in Pop Surrealism and its related narrative and figurative schools. The rise of current Goth culture and music can also be traced to the AIDS-era. In the arts, we cannot escape that we have lost peers, mentors, idols, colleagues, friends, trailblazers, and that we have shaped by HIV/AIDS.
“Art AIDS America,” which coincides with the City of West Hollywood’s 30-year anniversary celebration, is presented in two parts by the city. The ONE Archives & Gallery exhibits works by California artists—including never-before-shown photographs by Catherine Opie. Across the park at the West Hollywood Library, the exhibition includes a wide range of work from 1985 to the present.
On Saturday July 18, curator Jonathan D. Katz PhD. leads a free tour from 1:00 – 2:30 pm at the West Hollywood Library and from 2:45 – 3:30 p.m. at ONE Archives Gallery & Museum. For more information, please click here. Please RSVP at firstname.lastname@example.org
Running through September 6, Art AIDS America is a sneak peek of the retrospective organized by the Tacoma Art Museum in Washington—the first comprehensive overview and reconsideration of 30 years of art made in response to the AIDS epidemic in the U.S. The Tacoma show will open in late 2015 before traveling to New York and Georgia in 2016.
Art AIDS America is presented by the California LGBT Arts Alliance, ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives at the USC Libraries, and the City of West Hollywood through its Arts and Cultural Affairs Commission.
Locations & Hours
Please be aware that hours for the ONE Gallery and the West Hollywood Library differ and visitors wishing to see both parts of the exhibition should plan accordingly. Overlapping hours include Thursdays from 4-7 pm, and Friday/Saturday from 1-5 pm. Three hours of free validated parking is available in the Library Parking Structure located on El Tovar Place (validations available at the West Hollywood Library) during regular Library operating hours.
ONE Archives Gallery & Museum
626 North Robertson Boulevard
West Hollywood, CA 90069
Friday, Saturday & Sunday: 1pm-5pm
Closed Mondays through Wednesdays, and June 12-14 (for LA Pride weekend)
Free admission, donations accepted. To verify hours, call (213) 821-2771.
West Hollywood Library
625 North San Vicente Boulevard
West Hollywood, CA 90069
Friday and Saturday: 10am-6pm
Top image: Joey Terrill, Still-Life with Zerit, 2000
Julie Tolentino, The Sky Remains the Same, from Ron Athey’s
Self Obliteration #1, 2008
Niki de Saint Phalle, AIDS, you can’t catch it holding hands, 1987