Robert Mapplethorpe had his second
West Coast exhibition, and Touko Laasksonen, better known as Tom of Finland had his first US exhibition at Robert Opel's Fey-Way Studios. Many of the participants listed above on the March 1979 First
Anniversay flyer had previously exhibited at Opel's art gallery.
Click below for big pic!
- Fey-Way Studios
- 1287 Howard Street,
San Francisco, CA
- This exhibition
presents artifacts on paper relating to Robert Opel and Fey-Way
Studios including flyers, invitations, post cards and posters
that I collected as the events unfolded in 1978-79. For those
who did not have the opportunity to participate, I hope these
documents will somehow convey the sense of fun, irreverence,
and strong artistic energy that characterized this dynamic and
creative period in San Francisco's Gay history.
- During the
16 months that the Fey-Way gallery was open, Robert Opel curated
a steady stream of monthly gay art exhibitions whose jam packed
opening nights I rarely missed. It was a perfect prelude to a
SOMA (South of Market Area) evening that might include visits
to the BLACK & BLUE bar and the 8th Street Baths -- both
located off Howard Street, a block from Fey-Way. The RAMROD,
the AMBUSH and the EAGLE bars were not far away.
the fun ended rather abruptly when on the night of July 7, 1979,
a crazed gunman by the name of Maurice Keenan assassinated Robert
Opel in his own gallery. I was not alone to experience a great
loss. There was talk of keeping the gallery open, but without
its charismatic ringmaster, no one could pull together its divergent
and conflicting artistic energies.
- Robert Opel
became my friend and collaborator soon after I moved to San Francisco
on May 23, 1978. I was neither part of the leather community
though I frequented the SOMA bars which often exhibited the works
of leather artists, nor was I involved with heavy drugs, but
this did not matter to Robert. Always fascinated with anything
having to do with Gay Art, he was a great source of encouragement.
When he graciously invited me to contribute to the anniversary
show, I submitted a single Polaroid photo-collage. However, after
his murder, the art game quite suddenly ceased to be fun, so
I stopped. It was not until the early '90s that I picked up my
35 mm camera and started playing with it again. -Biron
Your comments are appreciated.
|More in Philip
Vincent's interview with Biron on Mapplethorpe, Opel,and
Dreva. Click–> HERE