Sunday, January 19, 2014

January 19



With a side of underwear:

HBO gay series "Looking" debuts tonight:

"Looking" begins with a graphic sexual encounter, but without the disco-thumping atmospherics that propelled Queer as Folk. “The very first scene of the pilot is of Patrick (portrayed by self-described "gay and proud" actor Jonathan Groff, at left) going out to the woods to get a hand job,” says Groff, simply but accurately summarizing a sequence in which the innocent Patrick goes cruising for the first time in a San Francisco park.

From gay media critic Gregory Miller: 
This is why “Looking” makes me so uncomfortable. I’m not used to seeing my real life — the way I really talk, flirt, hurt — on a screen in my home. To be presented suddenly with something that feels so authentic in such a raw way is deeply unsettling, like looking in the mirror and noticing a scar you’ve never seen before. It frightens me that anyone and everyone can turn their TV on Sunday night for the next eight weeks and see this world that feels like a piece of me. I don’t know if “Looking” is a work of art. I don’t really even know if it’s a great TV show. But I do know that nothing I’ve seen on television has felt so true.

The series premieres tonight on HBO at 10:30 pm. Your blogger, however, is vacationing in Istanbul at present, so I'll have to wait for a rebroadcast.

To feed your cowboy fetish:

Walter P. Chrysler Jr.

Automotive industry heir Walter P. Chrysler Jr. (1909-1988) was the son of a man who had amassed a great fortune in founding the Chrysler Corporation. Walter Jr., knowing that he would inherit vast sums of money, could thus indulge his passion for collecting art, an obsession that resulted in transforming a minor provincial museum in Norfolk, Va., into one of the nation’s best, the Chrysler Museum of Art.

Walter Jr., who was a theatrical producer*, hung out in locations that had strong ties to the homosexual community. Although throughout his life he was a gay man trying to appear to live a life as a straight man, he had a home in Key West and displayed his growing art collection in Provincetown, Massachusetts, in a 19th-century church building he bought from the Methodists. The museum was nicknamed by locals as “The First Church of Chrysler” or “St. Walter’s”. The structure today serves as the Provincetown library.

*Among many others, he produced New Faces of 1952, which launched the careers of Eartha Kitt, Paul Lynde and Carol Lawrence.  Chrysler also produced the film "The Joe Louis Story." 

In 1956, Chrysler retired from business to devote his full-time attention to the arts. Soon thereafter an article appeared in Confidential magazine that exposed his homosexual activity, and there had been persistent reports that he had been discharged from the Navy because “he was found to be homosexual.” It was extraordinary for a healthy man to be discharged from the military during wartime.* Again, according to Earle, “That Chrysler led something of a double life was widely acknowledged. The fact that he was gay was noted by many of those who knew him professionally and personally. As Chrysler biographer Vincent Cursio mentioned, ‘ 1938 there was enormous social pressure on gay men to marry and give the appearance of living a normal life.’ ” Walter Jr. married twice, but there were no children.

*Peggy Earle, “Legacy, Walter Chrysler Jr. and the Untold Story of Norfolk’s Chrysler Museum of Art.”

While a 14-year-old boy attending prep school, Walter Jr. purchased his first painting, a watercolor nude, with $350 in birthday money from his father. A dorm master considered the piece lewd and destroyed it – a Renoir! Undeterred, he continued to collect art, but there were scandals along the way. Many of the artworks he purchased and displayed were called out as fakes. For that reason, Newport, RI, refused to accept the gift of his collection, which had outgrown its home in Provincetown. In spite of such notoriety, Walter Jr. had impressive credentials – he had been a key figure in the creation of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. However, much of his personal collection had to be stored in warehouses and lent out to museums across the country.

Walter Jr.’s second wife was from Norfolk, and he had himself been a Navy man, so he ultimately found success in 1971 when he presented Norfolk, Va., with his impressive collection of 10,000 art objects, to be housed in the Norfolk Academy of Arts and Sciences, which had been built in 1932. The academy was immediately renamed the Chrysler Museum of Art (currently closed for expansion and renovations; slated for a grand reopening on May 10, 2014). As New York Times art critic John Russell said, "It would be difficult to spend time in the Chrysler Museum in Norfolk, Virginia, and not come away convinced that the most underrated American art collector of the past 50 years and more was the late Walter P. Chrysler, Jr." Chrysler's collection is especially strong in art glass and incorporates a large body of Tiffany lamps. Louis Comfort Tiffany had been his neighbor when Walter Jr. was growing up on Long Island.

Walter P. Chrysler Jr. enjoying a light-hearted moment with artist Andy Warhol:

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