Just around the corner and down the block from the site of the Stonewall riots in New York City is the LGBT Community Center. The Center, as it's known, has been an important part of queer life in New York since taking over the building on West 13th Street in 1984. Among other things, it was the site of the first ACT UP (AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power) meetings, bringing together activists and community members to fight back against the AIDS crisis of the '80s and '90s (as seen in the current hit television production, Pose).
As part of the Stonewall50 and WorldPride celebrations, the Center is showing a rich collection of contemporary and historical art. Commissioned especially for the Center, yarn bombs created by Alex Reynoso from AlexCreates cover the four trees in front of the building. The knitted, multicolored tree cosies represent several versions of the Pride flag (LGBT people of color–inclusive pride, bisexual pride, nonbinary pride, and transgender pride) and will be on display through the end of the month.
A look back at the 1989 Center Show on the second floor of the Center offers a mixture of visual arts and archival documents and images. The exhibit includes the recent installation of the Gran Fury art collective's "RIOT" mural, sections from Richard Taddei's "The Kiss," and "Street People" by Grace Graupe-Pillard, which juxtaposes faces with cutouts of the Statue of Liberty. Among the documents presented is an amazing letter by community members complaining about the sexual images in iconic artist Keith Haring's "Once Upon a Time" men's room mural, painted in 1989, months before his passing.
Currently on display in Haring's bathroom is artist Jordan Eagles' "Our Blood Can Save Them." Created in response to World Blood Donor Day on June 14 and the Food and Drug Administration's current discriminatory practices toward men who have sex with men who wish to donate blood to save lives, Eagles sourced a vintage WWII poster and used the blood of a transgender active service member to create silkscreen replicas of the poster. Eagles' work stays on display until July 14, 2019.
On the third floor is an amazing installation of historic photos of New York by Luis Carle. The exhibit is called Gay in the USA: LGBTQ Communities of NY 1989-mid '90s and includes photos of everything from the glory days of Wigstock to rough trade hanging out in front of the legendary Crowbar on the Lower East Side.
"The purpose of [the art] shows aims to look at how and what do artists create in times of need, in times of strife," said Richard Morales, manager of community partnerships at the Center. "I wanted to focus on that time period where people were responding to the AIDS crisis, queer-affirming spaces were starting to flourish, the social scene was building up, and people were still politically charged with the government's treatment towards us."
Some of the other work exhibited include archival photos of the Center through the years, some of Luis Carle's work, and work that is reflective of the here and now. With the exceptions of Alex Reynoso and Jordan Eagles' work, the shows will be on display at the Center until August 18, 2019 during regular business hours.