(click photos twice to enlarge)
I wanted to reconnect with my old friend and colleague Jeff Weinstein, and we made a plan to take in the “Art AIDS America” show at the Bronx Museum. It amazes me that for all the time I’ve lived in New York City (36 years), I’ve visited the Bronx only three or four times. The previous time was a revelation — the Foundry Theatre’s The Provenance of Beauty consisted of a bus tour of the South Bronx, with a poetic voiceover (text by Claudia Rankine) pointing out how vastly the neighborhood has changed and grown since the late ’70s when it was a virtual war zone. This expedition built on that impression. I enjoyed checking out the street art nearby as well as having lunch afterwards (spicy jerk chicken) at a Jamaican joint on Gerard Avenue called the Feeding Tree.
The exhibition, co-curated by Jonathan David Katz and Rock Hushka, was a bit smaller than I expected and lived up to the mixed word-of-mouth regarding the choice of art and artists. Probably anyone who’s interested in this subject matter lives with a platonic ideal of such a show that no actual selection could match. Nevertheless, I was glad to see work by artists I admire, some of which I’d seen before (David Wojnarowicz’s intricate collage painting Bad Moon Rising), some I hadn’t (four panels from a series by Keith Haring called Apocalypse), as well as pieces by artists I’d heard of but never seen (Hunter Reynolds, whose Memorial Wedding Dress is a centerpiece of the show) and some completely new to me (Joey Terrill, whose witty canvas invites a game of spot-the-references while also being the first artwork I know of to depict Truvada, the anti-HIV medication that has revolutionized gay men’s sexual experience).