SOHO, Manhattan (PIX11) — At the world’s only LGBTQ+ contemporary art museum, Pride is not a one-month affair.
Pride is an everyday event at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art in SoHo. Through the 25,000 pieces in its collection, the museum embraces and affirms LGBTQ+ artists as people and as creators, Director Alyssa Nitchun said.
“For artists, there’s a kind of homecoming in being able to create and exhibit work in this place,” Nitchun said.
The museum has its roots in 1969, the same year as the Stonewall Riots. Founders Charles Leslie and Fritz Lohman held an exhibit for gay artists in their SoHo loft. From there, they continued to collect and exhibit pieces from LGBTQ+ artists.
Some of their thousands of pieces of artwork were acquired during the AIDS pandemic, according to the museum. They rescued the work of dying artists.
The Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art was accredited in 2016. In 2019, the museum changed its name to The Leslie-Lohman Museum in an effort to be more inclusive of varying sexual and gender identities.
“It was a unanimous decision to inclusively represent the full expanse of our community,” Nitchun said.
Now, the museum is featuring the work of Lorenza Böttner. The exhibition, on display through Aug. 14, features paintings, photographs, drawings, video and biographical materials. Böttner lost her arms as a child and painted using her feet and mouth to hold the brush. It was a special moment for Nitchun when Böttner’s work was installed at Leslie-Lohman.
“You could feel her spirit in the museum,” Nitchun said.
Böttner moved between names, pronouns and gender expressions throughout her life. Curator Paul Preciado noted her work is about change.
“Ultimately, Lorenza’s work is about endless transitioning rather than a fixed production of identity and her images construct a dissident visual framework that questions both the gender binary as well as the oppositions between normal and pathological, abled and disabled,” Preciado said.
There are also more modern pieces on display in “Not Me, Not That, Not Nothing Either,” open until June 25. Artworks from Math Bass, Diedrick Brackens, A.K. Burns, Jibz Cameron, Theresa Chromati, KC Crow Maddux, Troy Michie, Christina Quarles, Devan Shimoyama, Ceaphas Stubbs and Jade Yumang are shown.
Visitors will see PlayStation controllers, Adidas pants and sports drinks bottles used in paintings, drawings and sculptures to tell LGBTQ+ stories. One piece reimagines Rapunzel as Black and queer.
“There are so many entry points for so many people here,” Director of External Affairs Aimée Chan-Lindquist said.
Many of the museum’s pieces can only be seen at Leslie-Lohman. Curators seek out artwork that is often ignored and give the artists a platform.
“We are embracing the power of art to explore, inspire and build understanding,” Nitchun said.
The museum is located at 26 Wooster Street. It’s open Wednesday from 12-5 p.m. and Thursday – Sunday from 12-6 p.m. Admission is free with a $10 suggested donation.