…if you’re female, or female-presenting, or if you’re queer, or a person of color, we have made a lot of inroads in a lot of different fields, businesses, but we are in no way where we should be—where we deserve to be.”

-Lola Flash

 

Lola Flash’s retrospective at Pen + Brush, 1986 to Present, honors creative activism at its finest.

As a queer black woman, Flash, at age 59, has used the medium of photography and photographic processes to confront the dual injustice of invisibility and stereotypical portrayals of gender, sexuality, race, and age for over three decades. Her portraits, many of which were taken with a 4×5 camera, serve to capture those in her communities who are often overlooked. Beginning in 1986, Flash documented her involvement with the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) demonstrations and also employed cross-color film processing to reverse the printed photograph’s colors—further illuminating how one person’s blue-sky can be another’s fire-red horizon.

Now on view, Flash’s “Cross-Color” series presents a new world to behold, where black is white and what’s usually identifiable is obscured, exhibited alongside five portrait series, in which Flash invites viewers to see her world, her communities of individuals, in all their unique specificity. The “[sur]passing” series explores the spectrum of race; “surmise” captures fluid presentations of gender; SALT challenges ageism; LEGENDS spotlights leaders of the LGBTQ+ movement; and Incarceration, a singular self-portrait, is the inaugural piece in a series about the mass imprisonment of people of color. Together, this historic retrospective of seventy-one photographs spans a life of advocacy that Flash explains can be united by a simple message: “Look at us,” she implores, “How can you not love us?”

“A lifetime of creative activism needs honoring,” author Juno Roche, writes in the catalog accompanying the photography exhibition, and “needs acknowledgement and celebration.” Pen + Brush, the expansive gallery and organization that has been dedicated to championing women in the arts for over a century, is doing just this by kicking off 2018, another year of resistance, with the Lola Flash Retrospective, now on view through March 17, 2018.

Read our conversation at The Rail.

Shyla Sheppard and Missy Begay, Co-founders of Bow & Arrow Brewing Co.

Last fall my partner and I were vacationing in Albuquerque, NM and had the pleasure of finding our way to the Bow & Arrow Brewing Co. By my second  Wild Sumac, described in the beer menu as an earthy lemonade with a desert sparkle, I knew I was going to have to share the news.

ICYMI: There’s something brewing in Albuquerque.

The craft beer movement is thriving way out west and nowhere more refreshing than at Bow & Arrow. Co-founders Shyla Sheppard and Missy Begay, partners in business and in life, are fostering a beer-lovers community at their Native-owned brewery and taproom in the heart of the American Southwest.

They opened their taproom in the adobe desert city near the pink Sandia Mountains. There, they serve wild, sour, and barrel-aged beers that are brewed onsite. In collaboration with their Head Brewer, Ted O’Hanlan, they strive to integrate local ingredients that are adventurous and unique to the area.

“There is a long history in the Southwest of cultures melding together,” Begay says, when we connected for an interview for Curve magazine. “The indigenous culinary tradition here is very strong.”

“Having a strong connection to the land is based on our upbringing,” Begay continues. She was born in Albuquerque and raised on the Diné Nation. Sheppard grew up on the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota, where she is a member of the Three Affiliated Tribes.

“From a young age, we were taught that the land has its own spirit. And in my tribe, Mother Earth is our mother,” Begay says. “The land provides water, earth, plants—everything you need to brew great beer. We’re conscientious of where our ingredients come from and we take great care in selecting them.”

Curve Magazine, Feb/March, 2018

The full review (rave) about Bow & Arrow is in the February/March digital issue of Curve magazine. Support women-run queer media by subscribing.

In addition to brew magic, “The Land of Enchantment” also features Sheppard and Begay’s motivation for leadership that’s inspired by their belief in The Seventh Generation.

“Speaking out and being visible is really important for future generations so they can freely aspire to do what they want to do whether they are gay or indigenous or whatever.”

 

Barbara Kruger, seeing something and saying something #barbarakruger #mta

A post shared by Amy (@amydeneson) on

I’ve been carrying around my Barbara Kruger designed MetroCard for awhile now, and the sight of it still thrills me.

Every time I swipe my way through a turnstile I’m reminded of how much I believe in public art as well as how extraordinary it felt to actually score one of these 50,000 limited-edition cards. I had a plan. It worked. But of course, it was all luck.

Here were my seven steps:

  1. First, I waited. The cards dropped on a Wednesday at four select subway stations. I learned via The New York Times that they were to be randomly distributed and only sold via vending machines. I couldn’t imagine that the existing stack of cards would be swapped out, replaced with the art cards; so I held out until Saturday, hoping other commuters would burn through the generics.
  2. I picked the Broadway-Lafayette Street station, because I frequently pass through here on my way to volunteer at Housing Works Bookstore. Perhaps I’d stored up some synchronicity along the line?  
  3. There were a few entrances from which to choose at this B/D/F/M hub, each had a number of vending machines. I went for one with an attendant, thinking that maaaaybe the cards would be sent out for distribution, addressed to station managers, and they’d stock the machines closest to their booths. I chose the station on the NE corner under the adidas store (because–well–I adore this brand).
  4. Eyeing the line of MetroCard vending machines, all chrome and lit up with “See Something, Say Something” alerts, I felt the same as I did the couple of times in my life that I’ve hmmm-ed over a slot machine to play. Blind. So I gave myself a $20 maximum to spend, in case the art collector in me took over.
  5. The first machine produced a Diesel-branded card. And for a split second, I loathed absolutely everything about SoHo and Capitalism and that I’d ever opened myself up to such a whimsical yet real want in this swirly, grinding whirlwind of a city with deeply rank odds.
  6. I stepped back from the blinking machines. They each held thousands upon thousands of cards. I had four more chances. Three, if I was being strict with staying under my budget. My partner, Melinda, and I watched a few folks buy MetroCards; both of us squinting for flashes of Kruger’s signature red, her iconic white Futura typeface. “I saw red,” Melinda said with conviction, pointing at the machine closest to the turnstiles.
  7. Buzzing like a third rail with hope, I stepped up, slid in my credit card, purchased a minimum stored value card for the amount of $5.25 or something, and held my breath as I flipped over the standard yellow-and-blue printed top to see what might materialize beneath. And with the rush of the right train pulling into the station, I saw it was a Barbara Kruger card.

The Lucky Barbara Kruger MTA Vending Machine

I tried for another, for a friend, a mega Kruger fan, and scored a second card. For the next few days, I directed everyone who cared to the lucky MTA vending machine. They all pulled art cards on the first try.

Many have asked if I’ve framed mine. No way.

Public art is meant to be public–seen by as many people as possible–not locked away, pressed beneath glass, stuck to my private wall.

I only have until 1/31/2019, when the card expires, to carry the message, asking:

Whose hopes? Whose fears? Whose values? Whose justice? 

[Do you seek? Support? Secure? Uphold?]

 

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