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The Gayest Painting of Our Time?


In my online travels I ran across this kitschy take on Noah's Ark yesterday on Flickr and was momentarily stunned by the gayness of it all. 'Noah's Gay Wedding Cruise', which artist Paul Richmond created for a gallery show called “Sweet & Low: Optimism in a Pessimistic Age” at Gallery Arcane in San Francisco, features an iconic cast of characters — Ellen & Portia, Rosie and Kelli, Jack Twist and Ennis del Mar, Bert and Ernie, Elton John and David Furnish as well as penguins and assorted other homo fauna.

However, I was much more amused by the range of drowning sinners bobbing about in the flood: a sopped Ann Coulter, Larry Craig clinging to a toilet, Sally Kern, Fred Phelps, and Kenneth Starr. That's Pat Boone's guitar. A 'Yes on 8' supporter.

As art it's not really up my alley, but I could certainly appreciate the message.


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    the 'Arc' story is not peculiar to the Jews -- see "Gilgamesh legend" from ancient Mesopotamia and other 'great flood' stories that predate it.

    here lies the folly of self-righteous, religious fulmination. the default position, disregarding history and logic, is, "i know i'm right, because it says so in the bible." but, that stance is a classic example of the logical fallacy of begging the question. for your premise to work, we must all agree to accept the bible as fact, instead of accepting that it is the hokum of old jewish patriarchs who wanted to impose their misogyny on the world within their purview.

    be that as it may, i love the painting. it's kind of fancifully Benton-esque -- an apt response to that bitter homophobe. i would like a print of it.

    Posted by: nic | Feb 26, 2009 6:47:32 AM

  2. RCunningham: Looks like another Christian spouting biblical nonsense in order to belittle and judge another person because YOU believe they are wrong and you are right. And you call Atheists arrogant...

    Posted by: marymary | Feb 26, 2009 9:03:20 AM


    As with the above comments, I must respectfully disagree with your view that this painting is anti-Scripture. As with the millions of believers who have understood the Noah story and applied its lessons to their own lives as a way to make sense of contemporary situations, this painting appears to me to be a recasting of the story as a metaphor for survival, hope, and triumph of a persecuted people over the forces of evil in the majority. The painting was neither attempting to be "historically" accurate (in the Biblical framework of history) nor theologically correct.

    At the same time, as indicated through the title of the exhibition, it was an expression of camp: as a metaphorical re-reading of the Noah story, it attempts to subvert the traditional relations between the story's readers and the events and characters within it. In Western art history, historical and religious painting, for example, is replete with examples of this kind of reimagining, where current rulers or artistic patrons are depicted as other figures. Off the top of my head, examples include donor portraits in French medieval Books of Hours and Gospel manuscripts, where the patron is depicted as Christ or as another saint; and (not in painting), the mosaics on the ceiling of St. Mary's of the Admiral in Palermo, where the Norman king Roger II (the church's patron) is receiving a crown from Christ, while he himself facially resembles Christ. Farther back, Roman emperors were depicted as gods in sculpture.

    Artistic expressions of camp, such as this painting, engage in the sames kinds of rearrangements and subversions of relations between the expected and unexpected, and usually do so 1) through some attempt at humor, and 2) usually with a queer subtext. As several cultural historians have indicated, such implicit references, which traditionally would only be understood or appreciated by a queer audience, were a form of language (visual, written or otherwise) around which a gay community could form, usually in the face of a hostile, heteronormative society.

    Thus, while gay people over the centuries have been persecuted, undermined, scrutinized, feretted out, jailed, beaten, and killed in some instances, a community of solidarity has been formed around a unique kind of humor and communication, one rich in references to the cultural past of the macrosociety to which this sub-community belonged, and yet which specifically addressed the needs, hopes and aspirations of gay people in discrete moments and places.

    To cast aside the continuation of this tradition and its successes in light of the hardships that gays have historically encountered -- and all this especially while these needs, hopes, and aspirations were expressed with humor and joy in the face of truly horrible circumstances -- is at best unsympathetic, and dare I say at worst un-Christian.

    I recommend looking beyond the confines of the Scriptural tradition and possible negative readings of this painting to the living, breathing examples of grace, with which the gay community is blessed.

    Posted by: Andalusian Dog | Feb 26, 2009 11:32:36 AM

  4. I love this painting. First, it depicts, although a bit skewed in favor of the LBGT community, my favorite story from the Bible, and this time, its even funnier. I got laugh out of it, did you?
    Just remember people, if you justify any part of the bible in your favor, those who use it against you are also justifying it for their own selfish gains.

    p.s. at 7 billion people on the world, doesn't it make you happy to think a few of us aren't going to reproduce? This is the times of Octo-mom.

    Posted by: Cole RVS | Feb 26, 2009 1:08:08 PM

  5. This is Komar and Melamid 2.0

    Posted by: bading | Feb 26, 2009 1:22:04 PM

  6. in what way, BADING?

    Posted by: nic | Feb 26, 2009 6:20:18 PM

  7. Sarah J: you should have stopped after saying that you are sick.

    Posted by: Hephaistion | Mar 1, 2009 5:19:19 PM

  8. HUH! So I just became the proud owner of the original. I am yet to pick it up but am already enjoying it thanks to the comments here.

    Posted by: Bir Ganguly | Nov 17, 2009 6:32:29 PM

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