Queer Caucus for Art
Letter from the Co-Chairs
October 2005

Dear Caucus members and friends,

Welcome back to the new academic year, to fall, and to a sadly eventful time for both the Caucus and our national community. New Orleans will be long remembered as both a titanic natural disaster and a painfully visible sympton of social failure, and our arts community was deeply affected, including prominent queer artists and exhibitions. You may have heard about the New Orleans Museum curators who rode out the hurricane in the museum building, brandishing guns to scare off looters -- heroes of our profession, akin to the staff who pushed Dresden’s treasures out on wheelbarrows in the Allied bombing of World War II. Hurricane Katrina struck during the successful run of a significant gay-themed show at the Contemporary Arts Center of New Orleans in memory of J.B. Harter, a recently deceased local artist and curator. Preliminary reports suggest that the works, many on loan from the Leslie-Lohman Gay Art Foundation in Manhattan, are in danger not so much from flooding (the show was on a high floor) but from the pervasive damp and mold, which may destroy pieces by Andy Warhol and others; ironically, Foundation director Charles Leslie had only recently returned from a warm reception by city officials and press. Harter’s own lifetime of work, which was stored in a ground-level warehouse, is presumed gone, though no one is allowed back into the city to check on it or salvage anything. Photographer George Dureau, longtime New Orleanian and pioneer of gay male photography, refused to leave his studio, but friends finally forced him to evacuate safely. To the many others whose names we don’t know, or haven’t heard about, our deepest sympathies.

Social change throughout our country -- and/or the lack of it -- will also form a backdrop to our next annual gathering, the upcoming Boston CAA conference (February 22-25). The schedule will be less hectic than the past few years, partly because the conference is now spread over four days rather than three, leaving more free time for such special events as our business meeting and our short panel session (probably Friday or Saturday -- stay tuned for final details).

Our Caucus reception is tentatively scheduled for cocktail hour on Thursday, 5:30-7:00 p.m. Our panel session on the continuing homophobia in arts institutions, organized by Chris Reed, will feature three familiar and insightful speakers: Tee Corinne, Jonathan Katz, and Richard Meyer. The Radical Caucus of CAA cooperated in making this proposal, and we are encouraged by the possibility of future collaboration with simpatico sister groups. Unfortunately, the Caucus will not, as we sometimes do, be sponsoring an exhibition in the host city; no one from the area stepped forward with any proposals.

At our business meeting, we will have an open forum on the future of the Queer Caucus, following up on the work of the committee formed at last year’s meeting in response to the general sense of drift. Special thanks to those committee members who shared with Jim their ideas about our current situation and alternative future plans for the organization, and to all those QCA members who responded to our interim report on the listserve, with a range of thoughtful comments and possibilities. It’s heartening to report that a former CAA board member congratulated us as a group for having the “depth and confidence” to engage in such a discussion. Then again, it’s sobering that we feel the need for such a forum in the first place, due to culture-wide changes in the position of minorities, generally gloomy scenarios for future economic and social progress, and our own recent issues around membership, energy, and intellectual focus.

There’s no easy consensus to report, but a summary of everybody’s thoughts will be available online before the meeting and at CAA in flyer form. The questions boil down to “Where do we go from here?” and “What is the role of a caucus like ours within CAA, in the wider arts community, and in public issues?” We welcome everyone’s input to what will be a decisive time for us as a group.

Along with those lofty concerns come some more pragmatic matters. The business meeting will also be the time for biennial elections to Caucus leadership. Both of us will be stepping down as co-chairs, and nominations, including self-nominations, for new male and female co-chairs are eagerly sought; we’ll be talking to possible new leaders ourselves as well. It has been a privilege and pleasure to serve -- Jenni for one term, Jim for two -- but our time is up. Anyone who would like the challenge of steering QCA through new and as yet uncharted waters, please call.

Jim & Jenni

Looking ahead to CAA 2006:

The business meeting will include a discussion on the future of the caucus. The interim report of the Committee on the Future of the Queer Caucus for Art was sent to the QUEERART list on June 5th.

“Another kind of Names Project,” the Caucus’s lunchtime panel, is organized by Chris Reed in conjunction with Paul Jaskot for the Radical Caucus. See co-chair’s letter as well as call for participation in May issue.

The Caucus is also sponsoring “Classical antiquity and the expression of queer desires” which is chaired by Peter Holliday. The call for participation appeared in the January newsletter and also appears in the general call issued in February by CAA. www.collegeart.org


The editors welcome your contributions: exhibitions, publications, reviews, conferences, awards, calls for participation.

Queer Caucus for Art newsletter, October 2005
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