|Artists Jeremy Chase Sanders and Doyle Johnson at their Magnet opening party. Those are Jeremyâ€™s strikingly colored woven towels behind them. Photo by Rink.
By the Eternally Erotic Sister Dana Van Iquity
I am thrilled to announce that Magnet â€“ the gay/bi health and social wellbeing hub in the Castro â€“ is currently displaying two of the most controversial and titillating art exhibitions ever shown on those gallery walls. The two units by two different artists (mutual friends who met at sexy Steven Satyriconâ€™s party long ago) are â€śCum Ragsâ€ť and â€śGlory Holes,â€ť by Jeremy Chase Sanders and Doyle Johnson, respectively. Or disrespectfully, if that suits your point of view. Personally, I view the two units as erotically charged masterpieces (masturbate pieces?) and different perspectives on the wondrous world of anonymous gay hook-ups. These exhibitions are perfectly suited for the month of February â€“ a time of hearts and hard-ons.
Sanders and Johnson are two San Francisco based visual artists who have created a collaborative exhibition of erotic art to facilitate a dialogue about social-sexual health. They told me they noted that queer identity and sexuality has developed under the influence of discrimination and prejudice, and for this reason queer people, particularly gay and bisexual men, have typically sought sex partners through discreet and often closeted channels. Both queer craftsmen believe it is their social responsibility as contemporary artists to illuminate issues around social-sexual health.
Sanders moved from Baltimore, MD to San Francisco in 1997; received his BFA in Printmaking from the San Francisco Art Institute in 2004; and an MFA in Textiles from California College of Arts and Crafts in 2006. He currently teaches Textile and Fashion Design at UC Davis, and has taught Textiles part-time at California College of the Arts. His original costume designs were included in Kunst-Stoffâ€™s 10th anniversary season at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in 2008. His fine art textiles were included in â€śC-Changeâ€ť exhibition at the Museum of Craft and Folk Art in San Francisco; the â€śCCA Centennial Alumni showâ€ť at the Oliver Art Center in Oakland in 2007; and at â€śCream from the Topâ€ť at Arts Benicia in 2006.
Sanders told me of his special neurological condition known as synesthesia â€“ causing him to see particular colors associated with specific letters and numbers. â€śI hand dye thread to match the colors I see in text and then weave cloth that contains coded language that resembles plaid patterning,â€ť he explained. â€śBy carefully selecting the words and type of cloth, I point to issues of identity and sexuality, specifically within the queer community.â€ť During this current stage of his artistic expression, he is weaving cum rags that derive their color patterns through his synesthesia from gay Internet hook-up slang. The Craigslist.org series are based on three and four letter abbreviations that men use to describe themselves, or those they want to meet for sex on craigslist.org (for example, men wanting men = MWM; straight but not narrow = STR8; and HIV-positive = POZ). When I asked what VGL was, I learned it is code from a probably narcissistic, shallow dude who either thinks he is Very Good Looking or is seeking same. Sanders has an X-tube.com series based on the screen names of men who post jpgs and videos of themselves to share with other men on X-tube.com (for example: â€śruffcubnjâ€ť is an actual bear cub - who Sanders communicates with - who hails from New Jersey and likes rough sex). For this series, Sanders snail-mails his handmade many-colored woven rags to men, who in turn use it in a photo or video on X-tube, then mail back the cum-splattered masterpiece to him. He assures me he always washes the rags in hot water, but not too much, in order to preserve â€śthe integrityâ€ť of the stain. Sanders encourages would-be exhibitionists and masters at masturbation to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Johnson holds a BA in Illustration from the University of Alabama (Huntsville); has an honorary PhD in Seminary Counseling; and was recently accepted to a Masters of Public Policy program at New England College. He has spent the past few years doing nonprofit HIV and Hep C advocacy work, and has just been nominated to seat 7 on the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force here in San Francisco - a two-year term reserved for a disabled citizen who has experience in consumer advocacy.
His â€śGlory Holeâ€ť installation allows viewers to witness an environment of political and sexual awareness in the form of two stalls in a public restroom with a five-inch diameter hole carved between them, giving access to a strangerâ€™s hard dick for mutual sexual pleasure (usually a hand- and/or blow-job. Three panels 20â€ť x 70â€ť mounted perpendicular to the wall create a divided space that spans across ten feet. The panels contain self-portraits on one face, and graffiti-style artwork on the other. On the far right outside stall panel, the words â€śSEXâ€ť are inscribed over and over in red, with the exception of two pink ones â€“ signifying the two states who originated legal same-sex marriage.
The installation both visually and functionally references glory hole fetish play. Though the piece is quite realistic, the artist asks that art aficionados and professional perverts refrain from sticking their dicks through any of the three holes or from sitting on the toilet seats. â€śThe dichotomy of text and image within its construction raises issues that reflect on menâ€™s sexual health,â€ť Johnson told me. â€śPersonal medical information - including denial of entitlement spending letters, HIV lab results, and expenditures of Medicaid and Medicare - is released to the viewer via custom printed toilet paper mounted on the panels between 15â€ť handicap bars.â€ť Please do not wipe any part of your body with these tissue art pieces. Johnson said, â€śThe intent is to transform the private into the public.â€ť Johnson terms all this â€śthe redundant interaction of many small parts to form a whole.â€ť
I term the whole double exhibit a sex-positive glance at anonymous sexual encounters that harm no one and contribute to gay sexual health. Iâ€™m sure prudes will term these duos as something altogether different. I would tell them, â€śThis is the Castro, dear. Get over it!â€ť Meanwhile, you need to stop reading this review and get YOURSELF over to these sexy shows before they close at the end of the month!