Date(s) - 1st Nov 2023 - 15th Dec 2023
Circus of Books
The exhibit opens at Circus of Books on 1st November and goes through 15th December.
The online-only auction will be live with bidding starting on 1st December and closing on 15th December.
“On a good night, we make love with the music of our bodies and minds. We overcome obstructions of body and mind, and merge into the great chord where there is total union. On a good night, I am not afraid.” – Louie Weingarden
Stompers operated from 1978 to 1989 yet, tragically, the gallery closed after both Louis and his partner died from AIDS. After his death in 1989, the collection was stored and has not been seen again until this past summer, 34 years later.
In downtown New York, the decisive arena for artistic exposure for Tom of Finland and the whole community of artists around him was Louis Weingarden’s gallery, Stompers. Weingarden was a composer, an important figure of the downtown art scene, and had his music played at the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, amongst others. Stompers, which Weingarden ran, was a used boot shop, while its backspace functioned as an art gallery. The place was one of the first addresses in town which exhibited artworks of erotic subject matter. A.J. Epstein’s photography documented the opening of Tom of Finland’s and Etienne’s show at the gallery in 1978.
– TheAllTogether Clubhouse, NYC, 2023
Tom of Finland had one of his first USA shows at Stompers alongside his good friend and fellow artist Etienne. The event drew attention from men around the country and led Tom and Louis to publish the Tom of Finland – Stomper Gallery Set One. These were four oversized prints inserted into a black non-descriptive folder. They sold out in a short period and are still sought after today by both museums and collectors worldwide.
Both the exhibit and the auction have Set One and just as rare, Domino Set Two, available for purchase all items signed and numbered. The auction features two additional extremely rare sets including AJ Epstein Set Three and Blade Set Four.
Another featured artist in both the exhibit and auction is Chuck Arnett. Arnett became famous in 1964 when a mural he painted for legendary leather bar The Tool Box in San Francisco was featured in an article by Life magazine in June of 1964. Most of his drawings are held in museums and archives and owning an original piece of his art has eluded most collectors. With over 20 original pieces – many smaller in size, this exhibit offers a unique chance to own a piece of art from one of the most influential gay artists not just of San Francisco, but the world.
Other artists in this collection include the artists and studios of Paul Cadmus, Jim French, Domino, Rex, Blade, Brick, A Jay, The Hun, Etienne, Martin of Holland, AJ Epstein, Sean, Bob Mizer, Bruce of LA, AMG, Target, Falcon, and Colt Studios artists Valentine and Jakal.
There are also several other pieces by artists that are unknown or cannot be traced to a specific person.
These pieces are a testament to the growing number of artists willing to show their work and sell in a public venue, as up to that time it was still not legal to sell, transport, or own Gay erotica in many states of the United States. The exhibition and auction represent artists from the ’70s and early ’80s, many depicting a pre-aids sexual lifestyle.
We are often asked where works can be found to add to collectors’ personal collections. This exhibition and auction is a chance to acquire a beautiful piece of history. In addition, thanks to Circus of Books and Gay Vintage Magazines, purchases by ToFF members will result in a 50% credit given to our Foundation that will be added to our acquisition budget for our permanent collection.
The current owner of the Weingarden collection being offered in this auction/exhibition has already donated a valuable Tom of Finland Stomper Set and a copy of each of the Stompers event posters to ToFF.
Members are asked to send a copy of their paid invoice and ToFF membership number to [email protected] so we can take full advantage this amazing grant opportunity.
Tom of Finland Foundation
Published: 1st November 2023
Categorised in: Exhibitions - TOM & Friends