Museum Cornerstone

The Mexican Museum was founded 1975 in San Francisco by Peter Rodriguez, a gay, California-born, Mexican-American painter.

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It’s taken over four decades to raise funds and break ground for a permanent location. A lot of work and determination went into accomplishing this.

I attended the morning dedication ceremony near the site of the four-story building that will house a large collection of Mexican, Mexican-American, Chicano, and Latino art.

The museum initially began in a rented storefront on Folsom Street before moving to its present temporary exhibition space in Fort Mason.

I first heard of Rodriguez and his vision from a neighbor who knew him. Both men were born in Stockton and worked during their lives in visual display. I visited the current museum on a number of occasions. It’s within walking distance of my home.

But I’ve never met the museum founder, who died less than three weeks before the dedication at the age of 90.

The Mexican Museum will stand downtown near several other important art institutions such as the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Yerba Buena Center For The Arts, Museum of the African Diaspora, the Contemporary Jewish Museum, and perhaps a new GLBT History Museum now taking the first steps in making that a reality.

Executive Director Terry Beswick of the GLBT Historical Society announced the project in a recent Bay Area Reporter editorial. And the most recent society newsletter included a sketch by Alan Martinez, a local architect and former roommate of mine.

Money must be raised in small and large amounts, a location found, and a design presented and approved before anything materializes. Hopefully I’ll be alive to see it!

More information available at Mexican Museum and GLBT History Society.

image & text copyright © 2016 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved

www.nikosdiaman.com

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Hollywood Closet

For much of its history, the Hollywood film industry manufactured and marketed an illusion.

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Movies celebrated young, white, heterosexuals of Northern European ancestry. Ethnically and sexually diverse peoples remained hidden.

The Hayes Code and the excesses of Cold War paranoia silenced dissenting voices. However, this seems to be quickly changing in keeping with significant progress in society as a whole.

Women He’s Undressed directed by Gillian Armstrong (Australia) 2015 documents the long career of costume designer Orry George Kelly (1897-1964), a three-time Oscar winner. He was born in a small town in Australia but soon moved to the United States, first working in New York before settling in Southern California.

Kelly’s work as a designer was praised while his sexual orientation was often mocked. His friendship with the wife of studio executive Jack Warner probably helped keep him employed at a time when gay and lesbian actors were forced to choose between job and personal relationship.

Women He’s Undressed, which screened at Frameline 40, is now available from Wolfe Video.

copyright © 2016 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved.

www.nikosdiaman.com

Fame & Shame

Stardom is intoxicating for performers but may quickly turn from blessing to curse for those unprepared for its unanticipated consequences. It is especially problematic when public image and private reality are at odds.

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The packaging and promotion of individuals is a way of monetizing talent. However I find it sad to see people transformed into products. I think the cost to the human spirit of such ventures is not worth the potential damage.

Strike A Pose directed by Ester Gould and Reijeer Zwaan (Netherlands/Belgium) 2016, recently showcased at Frameline 40, looks into the highs and lows of seven dancers who performed with Madonna. They were highly visible during the 1990 Blond Ambition tour but were left adrift after it ended.

The 1991 film Truth Or Dare, was supposed to be a personally revealing behind-the-scenes documentary showing the singer personally interacting with her dancers. The sexual orientation of the young men was publicly exposed during a time when AIDS-HIV was a frightening specter and homosexuality widely condemned in mainstream culture.

Strike A Pose is a beautiful exploration of a multi-layered story that looks at both the remarkable promise of youthful artists and the more difficult phase of their lives as they approach middle age. Secrets are reluctantly shared and the warmth of friendship is rekindled, at least momentarily.

copyright © 2016 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved.

http://www.nikosdiaman.com

San Francisco Treat

Pushing Dead directed by Tom E. Brown (USA) 2015 was showcased at recently concluded Frameline 40 and one of my favorite films at the festival.

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Dan is the bouncer of a neighborhood bar who’s HIV positive and unable to get his meds refilled, while his co-worker Bob is thrown out by his wife and in need of a place to stay.

The two men hang out together and help each other through an unexpected rough period in their lives. This gentle comedy is infused with love and compassion.

Dan’s roommate Paula and Bob’s wife Dot are important characters in the story but their roles are secondary. And the San Francisco setting is understated as well.

James Roday, local celeb Danny Glover, Robin Weigert, and Khandi Alexander work well together in the ensemble cast.

Look out for this cinematic gem!

copyright © 2016 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved.

www.nikosdiaman.com