I told someone a few days ago that this is my favorite weekend of the year, at least in terms of art... and I absolutely mean it.
For someone who loves uncensored art, there isn't anything better in the Pacific Northwest than the Seattle Erotic Art Festival, which opens tomorrow evening at the Seattle Center Exhibit Hall. You can read all about it, and get tickets, at SeattleErotic.org, and if you live anyplace within a few hours drive, you owe it to yourself to do so.
In addition to the art, SEAF also has films, interactive exhibits, erotic literature, performances, demonstrations, sales, and lots of interesting people! Friday evening has a nice kick-off vibe, with the opening of the gallery and a sampling of events. Saturday is the Big Day, with things starting slow and picking up throughout the day, culminating in a lively party atmosphere in the evening with things going on in every corner of the space simultaneously. Sunday afternoon is the quietest day, as things simmer down to the final closing. So if you're interested in the art and nothing more, Sunday might be your best day, whereas if you want to see aerial rope performances and live readings of erotic poetry among a large crowd of people in leather fetishwear, Saturday might be more your speed.
Some of us have other things on our calendar and don't really get to choose when we attend, which is unfortunately the case for me; I'll be there Sunday afternoon, hoping to see "sold" dots on the labels next to my three photographs!
Recapping, here are the three photos that were accepted by the Festival this year. I've done something a bit different with these photos -- to make them more unique, even though they are part of an open series, each of them has, on the back, a short narrative that explains a bit about the piece and what it means to me as the artist. Each is individually signed and dated.
Rest and Upheaval
To be human is to live amid contrast and contradiction. We strive for lives that are calm, peaceful, restful; yet the world around us is filled with chaos and turmoil. Nothing conveys this clash between tumult and vulnerability better than the contrast between the soft curves of a human body and the rough, hard textures of this rocky planet on which we live. And yet, even the harshness of nature can, in time, through the action of millions of waves and trillions of grains of sand, smooth sharp edges into polished stone. Nature both threatens and sustains us, and we find balance in the center of the storm.
I photographed Queen Dandelion on Rialto Beach in Olympic National Park in July 2018.
How do you define beauty? In the human figure, the popular definition demands youth, svelte bodies, blonde hair, blue eyes, and skin that is smooth, unblemished, and pale, with just a hint of sun-baked glow. But true beauty is so much deeper, so much more complex, like perfectly-aged wine with overtones born of lessons learned, adventures won, hardships and adversities overcome. It encompasses the full range of human diversity, from birth to grave, from the pale north to the richly-hued equator, flawed and imperfect, exploding all categories of gender and queerness. There is so much to celebrate! It’s time to embrace our potential as beautiful and sensual beings.
I photographed Psychopomp in Seattle in October 2012.
Lior Allay is a non-binary artist based in Pennsylvania. Like so many others, Lior’s personal gender and identity are constantly in tension with cultural expectations and preconceptions. Clothing, hair, body structure, and the ever-present obsession with genitalia all play a role in the ways that Lior navigates through modern society every day. For this photo shoot, at Seattle’s Freeway Park in March 2019, we played with these ideas of gender construct and expectations, cheekily asking, who do YOU say I am? And what do you demand, as proof?
I took my photos in to Seattle on Tuesday this week and dropped them off at the Exhibition Hall, and it's always a thrill to see the line of artists bringing their pieces in. Most of them are people you wouldn't give a second glance at on the street--that is, you wouldn't turn to a friend and say "did you see that guy, I bet he creates erotic art." Don't get me wrong, I love me an artist in a crazy outfit with wild hair and paint splashes on their jeans. But I think it's kind of awesome that people everywhere, people of all kinds, are creating erotica. And some of it--well, in terms of the pieces accepted by SEAF, all of it--is really good. Here are a few photos from my art drop-off. The painting propped up in the distance with the word "ROE" on it in big red letters is one I'm looking forward to getting a closer look at. (And I suspect that it will not be the only piece on that theme this year.)
I'm also looking forward to a bonus at the Festival, which is that several of my photographs were invited to be used as part of an immersive light show exhibit put together by Marcell Marias, a "light projection artist." Here's his pitch:
“The intent is to use the chosen pieces and mix them with photos and video of flowers, mostly orchids and other tropicals, along with some computer-generated, animated flowing imagery. The flower and digital imagery would act as overlays on the still imagery, and as transitional elements, helping one image to flow into another, instead of just using dissolves or fades to/from black. I would not alter the artists’ images, other than some needed cropping of frames and extraneous backgrounds that may appear in some of them. I will not post video anywhere online nor share video file with anyone. It will only be projected on location at SEAF on the two event days. Some of the higher resolution photographs would have a Ken Burns pan/tilt effect put on them, zooming into them and animating them.
Hmm, I just noticed his reference to "the two event days." I hope that doesn't mean it won't be there on Sunday, since that's the only day I can attend.
In any case, I gave my approval to use five of my photos, "Rest and Upheaval" and "
So, I'm looking forward to being in Seattle on Sunday, and I hope that if you're reading this and also attend on Sunday, that you'll find me and say hello! Ask one of the Docents to reach out to me. I'd promise to sign any photo that you buy -- but, they're signed by the artist already! I'll sign anything else you like, how about that?