In Conversation with Gallery 293

I walked into Gallery 293 of the Art Institute looking for this Martin Wong painting. 

Martin Wong, Sweet Oblivion (1983)
Art Institute of Chicago , Estate of Martin Wong and P.P.O.W. Gallery, NY

An art buddy, Jasper Goodrich, had suggested I go see it at the Art Institute when I told him about the book of Martin Wong's poems I'd just received from Primary Information (more on that later). The on-line collection search at the Art Institute confirmed that the painting was on display and where it was (when I visited on February 5, 2024).

I went in search of the painting, choosing not to read much in advance.

When I entered Gallery 293 (in the far east side of the second floor of the Modern Wing), I was surprised and delighted by the very camp sculpture in the middle of the gallery. 

What is this? Who is this artist? Across from a pair of David Wojnarowicz's works which I knew well. There must be a connection. I wonder... in the room are works from 1982, 1983, 1986, 1988/89, ... Were these artists all in New York? Did these artists know each other?

Next I went to the wall text to give me a full story.

The text for Sweet Oblivion begins: "Martin Wong's paintings combine painstaking documentary realism with highly charged symbols and decorative motifs. Wong moved from San Francisco to New York in 1978, joining a lively East Village scene filled with artists making political work inspired by their personal and cultural experiences." [note: the on-line text is not as expansive.]

What constitutes the artist's "culturally diverse worldview"? In what way "political"? What "personal and cultural experiences"? !!

The wall text for Greer Lankton is a bit more specific (though there is no explanatory text on-line): "She was a transgender artist and self-described anorexic and addict who considered her work autobiographical. "It's all about ME," Lankton wrote in a powerful poem-statement that emphasizes not only "indulgence" and "vanity" but also the artist's sense of being "trapped in [her] own world.""

At least this text begins to name names, to be specific about the artist and their work: transgender, anorexic, addict creating autobiographical work. Where is the full "powerful poem-statement"?

What the heck? I guess I'll have to dive deeper myself to learn about these artists and their connections beyond what I already know about David Wojnarowicz (about whom I have a major fixation).

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