As part of our commitment to protect, preserve and promote the erotic arts for three and a half decades, Tom of Finland Foundation is making online galleries of our erotic art collection available to the public. Patrons of The World of TOM Patreon will receive the first look.
The artist Domino (Donald Merrick, 1929 – 1990) spent years teaching and writing about the visual arts publicly as Donald Merrick.
Mr. Merrick, deputy chairman of the fine arts department at Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Rutherford campus, lives in New York City; however, he spends much of his nonteaching time traipsing around New Jersey.
His current one-man show at the Zim-Lerner Gallery includes many portraits of New Jerseyans going about their day’s work. There is a police officer directing traffic in Rutherford, a priest in front of his church in Keansburg, a moving- company truck driver from Union City, a gasoline station attendant in Rutherford and the crew at the Pizza King in Toms River. ‘I prefer to have them involved in their occupations,’ Mr. Merrick said. ‘I believe very strongly in the importance of a person’s work to his life.’
As he goes about his daily business, Mr. Merrick looks for a face – or a personality – that strikes his fancy. He’ll photograph the person, then go home to paint from the photos. –Sandra Gardner, The New York Times, 1984
Privately, the artist Domino was hard at work dreaming up his erotic fantasies. It wasn’t until after his divorce with his wife that Donald exposed Domino to the rest of the world. Unfortunately, prior to that, Donald destroyed many of his works under Domino.
In the artist’s words from an interview with A. Jay and Jack Fritscher, Drummer, 1979:
I’m naturally kind of tongue in cheek trading on the off-quoted dictums of Paul Cezanne, because I’ve spent too many hours in art-history classrooms. But I’m not too far off what my drawings mean to me in my head intellectually and in my crotch erotically.
I wanted as much experience as possible before I settled down into a studio. I firmly believed that an artist can only paint or draw that which he knows well. So I pursued the kind of men I loved to gather a headful of visual data. The task proved to be as pleasurable as it has been.
If I could master making rough, raw, aggressive workingmen into sexual objects of desire, then, I figured, maybe I could someday match what Tom of Finland had accomplished–not with Tom’s man-of-our-fantasies, so much, as with the Domino men-of-our-realities.
Sometime later came the next big revelation: that drawing the American Male was really far more vital, personal, and important to me than painting the American Scene, as I was doing professionally. Putting all of my creative impetus into the pornography launched me into the art- product that I’m now ready to exhibit.
In December, 1978, Stomper’s Gallery in New York mounted the debut exhibition of Domino art – Domino: Original Drawings and Prints. The show closed at Stomper’s on 31st January 1979, and was rehung less than two months later at Fey Wey Studios. In March of that year, the show catalog was released, the artist’s first book.
The Hun, who was a good friend of Domino and another artist that we featured in this series, wrote:
I fell in love with Domino art. Aside from the perfection of the image, what captivated me was what he was doing with words on an art page. Everything else in Domino’s art was so finished and pristine. Then, in a cop scene, for example, the cop is talking and it’s just the words on the page. That contributed a lot to Big Sig and Gohr.
Acknowledgement to Jack Fritscher, who not only wrote about Domino in Drummer, but Gay San Francisco: Eyewitness Drummer, as well and produced Domino Video Gallery: Tough Tops Who Will Fuck You Up!, 1999.
Published: 19th September 2021Tags: Art & Artists Gallery, Domino