“Queer” bares all



Photos by Cathie Lawrence

A crowd of students gathered outside the Los Medanos College Art Gallery, as it held the first ever “Queer: The Now” art show, which had its opening night on Thursday, Nov. 14. This exhibit celebrates the history of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community from the past and present through the work of Queer artists from the Bay Area. The reception opened up with a brief speech from gallery Curator Seth Eisen prior to giving the attendees the opportunity to browse the artwork. After some time, Eisen made another, lengthier speech, then he introduced and gave special guest artists the chance to speak about their artwork and themselves. One of the artists that was present was San Francisco based Eddie Valentine, who had one of his pieces, “Poof,” featured, was surprised to see such a large amount of attendees present. “The whole idea that you could actually go to an outlying suburb and participate in some LGBTQ function and not feel that knowing that the time has changed,” said Valentine. “I felt like I could safely get here and feel appreciated by the crowd that there is such a lovely space this far out in the city,” he added. Curator Eisen encouraged attendees to look “real deeply” at the artwork to see what the artists had intended. He also stressed on the meaning of the word queer, which is a part of the title of the show. “Queer used to be a slur for gay people, but twenty-something years ago there were some academic people and also people who took that word to signify and mean something else,” Eisen said in his second speech, adding “Queer can also mean not just lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, but it can also mean other or non-conformist who don’t fit into the status quo into every day for many different reasons.” Each artwork paid homage to the queer history. LMC student Andre Thompson particularly liked a watercolor painting called “Assentions 9” by Matthew McQueen, who created it in the year 1978. The painting depicted the scenery of hills and vast landscape in the colors of the rainbow. “If you didn’t know it was in this type of gallery, LGBTQ, it would still be a beautiful, colorful painting,” said Thompson. He added that the mystery behind the meaning of the watercolor makes it something for those to wonder about. Curator Eisen’s main goal was to bring more of a queer presence to smaller towns and suburbs all over the East Bay. LMC’s Art Gallery gave Eisen the opportunity to do that with this exhibit and it turned out to be a huge success. “I even talked to, several months ago, the history professor Jeffrey Mitchell and he’s been here for twenty years and trying to get more of a presence of gay people here,” said Eisen. “He said it’s been a big struggle for him so I thought it was really touching that we could put up this show.” Eisen believed that this work is gratifying for Mitchell because it’s not in vain. Other students enjoyed seeing the artwork that depicted the queer history. One student Roman Smith said, “I appreciate it. I like that they’re open about it. It brings students from the college who are usually scared or hiding and are still in the closet until they’re more comfortable. They don’t have to feel out of place.” The art show “Queer: The Now” will continue its showing until Wednesday, Dec. 12 on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. and 4 to 6 p.m. and also by appointment.