|Magnet hosts Kevin Roe and Adrian Cano pose in front of a couple of Barton?s classic ?70s imagery. Worth seeing.
Throughout the month of June, Magnet is proud to display photographs of Crawford Barton, on loan from the GLBT Historical Society. Barton captured the Castro during the ‚Äė70s and early ‚Äė80s, and his unapologetic images marked a radical departure from how gay people had been previously depicted. It was during this time that Crawford said, ‚Äúthat we passed from being terminally unacceptable to at least being recognized as a people with equal rights.‚ÄĚ In honor or Barton and the GLBT Historical Society, Magnet held a reception on June 3.
The gallery display is entitled ‚ÄúQueer Eye: the Photographs of Crawford Barton.‚ÄĚ Information on the wall informs us that Barton was born on a farm in Georgia in 1943, and he moved to California in the 1960s. By the early 1970s he had established himself as part of the vibrant Bay Area art scene. In 1974 the De Young Museum in San Francisco featured a number of Barton‚Äôs prints in a show entitled ‚ÄúNew Photography: San Francisco and the Bay Area.‚ÄĚ In addition to his fine art photography, Barton worked on assignment for several gay weekly newspapers, The Advocate, the Examiner, Newsday, and the Los Angeles Times. Many of his more famous photos were published in the collections, ‚ÄúBeautiful Men and Days of Hope.‚ÄĚ Barton died of complications from AIDS at the age of 50 in June 1993.
Barton is best known for his photographs that vividly document queer life in San Francisco in the ‚Äė70s and ‚Äė80s. ‚ÄúBarton seemed to be everywhere at once, camera always in hand, affixing gay life on film,‚ÄĚ wrote author and historian Mark Thompson. ‚ÄúFrom two lovers‚Äô private communion to multitudes marching down Main Street, Barton keenly focused his lens on the intimate, the hidden, and the unexpected throughout his years of recording a community‚Äôs unfolding panorama.‚ÄĚ
Barton once described his work in both aesthetic and political terms. ‚ÄúI tried to serve as a chronicler, as a watcher of beautiful people. I wanted to feed back an image of a positive, likable lifestyle‚ÄĒto offer pleasure as well as pride.‚ÄĚ
This exhibit brings together some of Barton‚Äôs best images. The curators have grouped the photographs into three categories: portraits of individuals, street scenes, and couples. ‚ÄúCumulatively, Barton‚Äôs work captures a certain moment in the history of San Francisco‚Äôs queer cultural sensibilities,‚ÄĚ says one curator. ‚ÄúHis aesthetics straddle the countercultural hippie world of the Haight-Ashbury and the gay scene of the Castro.‚ÄĚ The curators and the GLBT museum of history said they hoped this exhibit would spur thought, provoke discussion, and please the eye.
‚ÄúWe thought this would be a good exhibit to have up during the month of Pride for both locals and tourists to see a little history of the Castro and what it was like twenty years ago,‚ÄĚ Magnet Community Organizer Kevin Roe told Bay Times. He said his favorite Barton photo was of the naked hunk in a kitchen, sucking on a big spoon of peanut butter from an oversized Bonnie Hubbard peanut butter jar.
‚ÄúThis is the San Francisco my brother told me to stay away from, but here I am and here to stay,‚ÄĚ said Magnet Concierge Adrian Cano. He said his favorite photo was of the young Latino in the white belt. He admitted it was because he was wearing the same white belt that evening at the reception. ‚ÄúI took his fashion sense and made it mine,‚ÄĚ he said with a big grin.
In addition to the Barton exhibition, the Penis Project is framed on display, and colorful posters of all the varied crotches with dicks and balls are available for purchase for $10. ‚ÄúThe Penis Project poster is for people and participants [how‚Äôs THAT for alliteration?!] who want to relive the wonderful project Magnet did at the Castro Street Fair, where we took over 350 Polaroids of men‚Äôs penises,‚ÄĚ said Roe. ‚ÄúThe project was trying to show the many different shapes, colors, and sizes of men‚Äôs flaccid penises. It was a way of showing the male anatomy desexualized to an extent to show diversity.‚ÄĚ