Sunday, November 28, 2010

Out Spotlight

Today's Out Spotlight is a reclusive artist who's work taught the world more about life in the dark corners of the gay world during the 1980s. His work captured, with sympathy, understanding, and wit, the longing and loneliness of many urban gay men of the time. Today's Out Spotlight is realist painter Patrick Angus.

Patrick Angus was born in North Hollywood, California on December 3, 1953 and grew up in Santa Barbara a shy kid who dreamed of being an artist. Without any formal teaching and only misinformation for reference, he struggled. It was in high school that a kind art teacher mentored him and let him use his studio, where he began to flourish. As a teen Angus was afraid to broach the subject of his sexuality with anyone.

Going on to attend the Santa Barbara Art Institute, he first felt comfortable expressing the subject matter he most cared about - his friend and the gay subculture he was a part of until he discovered the drawings of fellow artist David Hockney in the early 1970s. Especially works by Hockney painted about gay life that Angus' artistic inspiration. Angus moved to Hollywood in 1975, and discovered the world of beautiful men yet always felt he was on the fringe and not attractive enough to be apart of the Hollywood scene.

In 1974, Angus attended Santa Barbara Art Institute on scholarship. It was there that he first felt comfortable to express the subject that he most cared about his life and friends in the then gay still somewhat subculture of the early 1970's. While in school he discovered the book 72 Drawings by David Hockney and he found an artist who celebrated his sexual persona in his work and who glamorized the "good" gay life in Los Angeles, only 100 miles away.

However, when Angus moved to Hollywood in 1975, he discovered that the good gay life does not exist for poor people, "unless, of course," as he bitterly noted, "they are beautiful." Angus, believing that he was sexually unattractive, was hopelessly lonely for the affection of an objectified beautiful boy and found himself in the fringes of the scene.

American realist artist Patrick Angus produced keenly observed and compassionate depictions of the 1980s gay demimonde. His work captures, with sympathy, understanding, and wit, the longing and loneliness of many urban gay men of the era.

Growing up when figurative painting was out of vogue to the art establishment, he had his preference was strengthened through his friendship with other "realist" artists who agreed with his view that an art dependent on observation was more interesting than concept ar." A great draftsman, with a keen eye for detail, Angus made portraits of friends and recorded with Hockney-like wit the Los Angeles scene around him that evading him, with his overtly gay subject matter.

He "specialized" in paintings that depicted the darkened movie houses and the baths, the atmosphere that he found enticing but beyond his participation.

In 1980 he traveled to New York to see the Picasso Retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, Angus made a crucial observation of the sexual autobiography inherent in Picasso's work. He declared that "Picasso demonstrated that anything [including orgasm] can be depicted--Picasso is the ultimate realist." He stayed in New York and it was here that his talent flourished. He began to paint large canvases based on his personal obsession with erotic loneliness. Three major paintings define his milieu: Boys Do Fall in Love (1984), which depicts a strip show; Flame Steaks (1985), which is set in a hustler bar; and The Mysterious Baths (1985), which portrays a gay bath house. His work during the time was mainly focused strip shows, hustler bars, bath houses, but included portraits - especially one of one of his admirers and promoters, Quentin Crisp.

From his work at the time playwright Robert Patrick described Angus as "the Toulouse-Lautrec of Times Square."

He also created a number of oil or acrylic paintings of the interior of the Gaiety Theater and some of its dancers and customers in the 1980s, including Grand Finale (1985), The Apollo Room I (1986), Remember the Promise You Made (1986), Slave to the Rhythm (1986), All The Love in the World (1987), Hanky Panky (1991)

A recluse, Angus considered his work to be not commercial and remained hidden away in his apartment for the most part, creating paintings he knew would never sell. His subject matter closed off the commercial art market to Angus. The "bourgeois gay establishment disapproved of his depictions of the politically incorrect "bad" gay life, the demimonde of cruising, hustling, and loneliness." All attempts to exhibit Angus' work were rebuffed.

In despair knowing his work would never be accepted by the art establishment, Angus resigned himself to obscurity and poverty. He found a room in a New York welfare hotel, where he could paint, but he refused to risk more humiliation by attempting to exhibit his work. This reluctance prompted Robert Patrick to introduce this "Emily Dickinson of Painting" through the pages of Christopher Street magazine, the most literate of gay publications in the 1980s. As a result, there was interest in his work.

The man who inspired him, David Hockney himself, bought five major paintings. Quentin Crisp wrote, "Mr. Hockney has said that he paints what he likes to look at. No wonder he has bought several of Mr. Angus's paintings. Mr. Angus works on the same principle and, although at first sight, his pictures seem so deliberately shameless, he is really, in this respect, in a direct line of descent from artists such as Mr. Manet, whose picture of Olympia was, in its day, considered so shocking."

In the early 1990s, just as his work was becoming 'collectable', however still poor and unable to afford a doctor, he collapsed and was diagnosed with AIDS. Facing death, he worried that his life's work would die with him. But in the last months of his life, three one-man shows of his work were mounted and book of his work, Strip Show, was coming together. On his death bed in 1992, when he saw the proofs for the book and said, "This is the happiest day of my life."

Patrick Angus captured a unique aspect of gay life that few have either experienced or are willing to admit. His keenly observed images of the gay underclass of the 1980s are a major contribution to the legacy of American social realism as much like the work of such artists as Thomas Eakins, Winslow Homer, Edward Hopper, Reginald Marsh, and Paul Cadmus. Moreover, they are unique in the history of art for their compassionate depiction of the longing and loneliness of some urban gay men.


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ROMA said...

Fantastic essay today Special as usual. Brava! Great to be introduced to an artist about whom I have not read much. Thanks!

So.....what did everyone think of LAOD?

ROMA said...

FYI for everyone with CINEMAX. There are funny "60 Seconds with Anne Hathway" "60 Seconds with Jake Gyllenhaal" if you go to your Free Cinemax on Demand channel and hit the "movies" section. Anne and Jake interview each other about the film and their lives. (And it's more than 60 seconds~segments run about 6+ minutes). They are quite funny and amusing together, clearly very in sync with each, very comfortable. I could see these two making more films together, they've got that elusive chemistry that is so important in cinema. Note JG's reaction when Anne asks if he, when in love, "shows a person you are in love, or do you tell a person you are in love". Interesting answer, intriguing reaction facially and interesting body language wise.

Fun catching up reading all of your insights and reactions re: LAOD today!

the real m said...

Thanks for the tip ROMA. Those questions were posted somewhere on a Jake site during the LAOD promo but I need to rewatch to catch the body language.

Interesting spotlight. Such a sad concept "erotic loneliness" but a reality for many I'm sure.

The latest bearding effort with Taylor is a train wreck. Not much for us to do but watch it unfold. I expect Ted will have some fun with it in coming weeks. Craig Ferguson always talks about how he loves men like Charlie Sheen, Brett Fahvre, Mel Gibson etc as they make his job, making fun of people, easy. Jake's latest bearding does the same thing for Ted. The snark will write itself.

Been thinking about Jake's latest under performing film, LAOD. I don't think it will be the end of his career but it will impact how much money he can command for future films. He can't pull down the big bucks he wants until he can prove he can earn his keep.

destiny said...

Never heard of this artist, so another fascinating read.

Thanks for the reviews Special and Music Lover. Sounds like you both liked the movie a lot more than I did, but I'm in agreement about how good Jake looked, especially in the B&W segment.

Special K said...

Like I said the movie was chugging along and but it switched up when it hit Chicago. But do think they got the pharma thing down pat. And he looked every inch a pharma guy.

He just looked good period.

He really should look for a project that would be in B&W. A really cool B&W indie.

destiny said...

I think if they had stuck to the pharma stuff it could have been a good movie.

destiny said...

I'm going to do something I don't do very often, give a plug for a movie. I went and saw Fair Game last night, and it was a really good movie, and a devastating indictment of what went on when Valerie Plame got outed as a spy. Sean Penn and Naomi Watts are really good in it. People in the audience applauded at the end--okay, it helps that is was in a theater on the very liberal upper west side of Manhattan.

I'm giving the plug because after the movie one of the producers came out and made an appeal to the audience. He said they don't have much money for marketing, and have had trouble getting it picked up in theaters. He urged people who liked to film to get out the word, and for people living elsewhere or with family and friends elsewhere to ask their local theaters to show the movie.

the real m said...

I just took a look at boxofficemojo to see what is coming out next. Most movies due 12/3 are in very limited release or virtually unheard of. LAOD could get a bounce against such limited competition. It makes me wonder why they picked Thanksgiving for the LAOD release date with so little competition only 1 week later. Then again Harry Potter and Tangled may still rule.

Music Lover said...

You're welcome, Destiny -

I saw previews for Fair Game recently and it does look good. I still have to see Harry Potter also. :)

Great Spotlight today, again.

Special K said...

Something to consider when looking at the box office numbers, how much screens each movie has and how much they are making per screen. LaOD is 3rd behind Harry Potter and Tangled for money per screen.

Megamind, Unstoppable and Burlesque all have at least 600 more screens than LaOD. Megamind has just under a thousand more screens than LaOD. With that many more screening is it is hard to takeover their positions on the list.

I wonder if LaOD will gain more screens next week with less new releases and other movies going into weeks 3,4, and 5 at the box office.

Special K said...

I have seen the ads for Fair Game up here and it looks really good. I must say I was fascinated by the real story of Valerie Plame when it happened. A real life spy story how much more intriguing can that get.

prairiegirl said...

Well, I'm no help nor can I contribute on the movie discussion, as usual.

Why? because I haven't seen any of them!! LOLLL! I haven't seen a single movie. And this, even after giving stupid Comcast the Big Heave Ho! with a lunch hour spent dumping my big sack full of remotes, boxes and whatnot on their counter and letting them know that I would not be needing their stuff any longer. With a new provider, we have had a free preview all weekend long of all the movie channels, Encore, etc.

And what comes in the mail? A letter form Comcast telling me that "Oh, we see you have terminated your service with us. May we ask why? Please give us a call and give us a chance to ...blah, blah, blah".

Avatar was on one of those channels. Didn't see it. Sherlock Holmes was also on. Couldn't watch it.

But a lot of writing has been getting done and for anyone who cares, Chapter 8 is now up!!!

Let's see now, I almost forget how to sign in.

prairiegirl said...

darnit! a letter form = a letter from.

Sabbatical's over!!

And now it's time to go to bed. I'm beat.

destiny said...

A letter form Comcast telling me that "Oh, we see you have terminated your service with us. May we ask why? Please give us a call and give us a chance to ...blah, blah, blah".

LOL. Cable companies are so clueless.

Methodical Muser said...

Comcast made the mistake of asking me why I terminated their service three years ago. That was their first mistake. LOL. I must admit I thoroughly enjoyed the "opportunity" of sharing a few thoughts with them but, somehow, I don't think the feeling was mutual. Remember the old adage, "Don't ask a question, you don't want an answer to."

Jake loves Taylor not dick said...

Jake still in Nashville with his love Taylor. They love each other dearly, and you bitter queens can't stand when other people are happy.

Jake is still straight and you guys are still living in denial.

me be gay too said...

Look at me gays. I'm gay too. You see anyone I find attractive will from this point be just as gay as me. When this boy has a relationship with a woman, I will just dismiss it as him growing a fu man chu and continue telling other gays, like me, that he is really gay just lost in walk-in closet.

ROFL said...

LOL closet-case trolly is back!

janet said...

you bitter queens can't stand when other people are happy.

Um, 99% of the posters here are straight females. Suppose that doesn't change you being a self-loathing closet dweller.

Oh yeah said...

janet said...
you bitter queens can't stand when other people are happy.

Um, 99% of the posters here are straight females. Suppose that doesn't change you being a self-loathing closet dweller.

Wow that was a good one.

Special K said...

Last night lost internet. Hoping it wasn't something I did, cause you now my track record with them. Waited, waited, nothing, went to bed.

It was back on this morning and it wasn't my fault. It was them this time. Yes!

It must have been a big thing since it made the news who said it wasn't just MA but parts of the East Coast too. The outage was so widespread Comcast wait they are Infinity now wouldn't say what caused it and wouldn't say how many people lost it.

huh? said...

The outage was so widespread Comcast wait they are Infinity now wouldn't say what caused it and wouldn't say how many people lost it.

Say what??

Special K said...

Comcast, who is changing their name to Infinity, would not say what the cause of the outage was and wouldn't disclose how many people lost their service.

Seaweed said...

Special's shorthand...

In reference to the last 3 posts, I'd have to say I followed the first pretty well. The clarification after "say what??" looks so out of place with all it's commas, and all, seems out of place.

Have grow rather fond of Special's shorthand, stream of conciousness writing style.

It's all good as I sit here chuckling to myself.

Cheers everyone. Luv ya Special !

Methodical Muser said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Methodical Muser said...

Comcast's customer service initially reported an "Internet-related issue" on Twitter under the account Comcastcares late Sunday evening before following up with, "Internet outage larger than just Boston."

Comcast Crash