Behold brings contemporary fine art to The Lost Sparrow

Behold, a painting from the first movement of my 2017 Views collection, was published in The Lost Sparrow.

The image captures the frenzied pace of Los Angeles within the frame of a cool and relaxed subject of desire. Behold is 36×36 inches, acrylic and sharpie on canvas, and is part of the first movement of my 2017 Views collection, which explores meaning in a contemporary context through a visual language of landscapes, male figures, power, light, and communications.

Visit http://lostsparrowpress.com to purchase your copy of the chapbook for $7. The collected works include prose, poetry, and fine art from collected contributors.


Views III is a fine art critique on the human experience 


The third movement of the Views collection is focused on dialogue. It is a point/counterpoint exploration of communications, technology, and queer sexually. Images and handwriting create a visual environment where language reveals varying perceptions from viewpoints that may be any assortment of straight to queer, celebratory to predatory, religious to lecherous, or supportive to radical. 



These narrative landscapes are physically layered over ink paintings, raised by just a few centimeters. Duality is present in all the works, which seem to argue with one another on symbolism and meaning. 


This hybrid reality recalls the layered existence of queer masculinity. The paintings explore the objectification of the human experience, using a visual language of power, light, and sexuality. The encounters—from online comments to locker room glances—are recognizable to a contemporary audience because they are harvested from our post digital reality. 
Each of the works is paired with its cut companion piece, offering an attempt to reconstruct context, while simultaneously emphasizing the solitary nature of holding a single view. 


There are three sizes of works in Views III: 10 x 10, 12 x 18, and 18 x 24. They are all acrylic ink and sharpie pen layered beneath hand-written, internet-based, narrative poetry. 

There are no safe spaces

There are no safe spaces.

Boys at my high school jumped the gay kid, Michael, after he came out. They teased him relentlessly. They hit him. They tripped him. They drove him from school.

I was the next in line when it came to queer hatred. They called me faggot and queer and gay boy. Once, someone threw an open container of milk at me as I walked through the full cafeteria. I was soaked, my jacket ruined. The Principal told me that I had brought it on myself.

‘What do you want me to do?’ the good, Mormon community member scowled at me from across his desk. More than half my life has has passed since then but I still remember.

There are no safe spaces.

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As a grown man, the hate can be constant. My one haven is home — West Hollywood, a gay neighborhood carved from the heart of Los Angeles. In the seven years I’ve lived there, I’ve only been derisively called a faggot on two occasions, both by teenagers.

But before I moved to an urban setting, I taught in California Public Schools and lived in a large commuter community in suburban LA County. At least once a week I was called faggot, queer, pervert, or in some other way made to feel uncomfortable in my queer skin. This was always in public spaces; parking lots, the mall, the grocery store, coffee shops, restaurants.

It was so common that I felt normalized to the jeers. I barely heard them. I’d wave them off. At the time, I felt that I couldn’t affect the behavior of strangers; so I ignored them.

Work was worse. Children regularly tossed homophobic epithets, both in my direction and broadly to each other on campus. Each year at least one parent would pull their child from our district because they believed people like me shouldn’t be allowed to teach.
Teachers and administrators were useless in their support. Once, when I filed a formal complaint, the teachers on the task force became angry with me for making a big deal out of ‘a little name-calling’ (as if they let a child call them faggot without consequences).

There are no safe spaces.

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My friends and I made places for ourselves at the local gay bar, the book store, and my apartment. We were a cohort of camaraderie that helped each other exist in the world that didn’t want us.

Even together, there was no guarantee of security. At coffee shops, the common assault was from good Christians calling us sinners, shielding their children, or worse, saying they’d pray for us. At the book store, it wasn’t uncommon to be called a faggot or dyke if we lingered too long before the single shelf of queer books (my entire literary access to queer publications).

I can recall two shootings at the only gay bar in town, unabashedly named The Back Door, though I’m certain there were more. One happened during the day, a bit of drive by vandalism. The other happened when I was there – a couple of shots our direction from the parking lot. No one was hurt. I don’t think the police believed/wanted to believe that it happened.

There are no safe spaces.

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When we stayed in Fairbanks, Alaska, my boyfriend and I slept in separate beds. There were rooms with larger beds available but for our safety he chose a room with twins.

Rarely have I ever expressed affection to another man in public. Derision has even follow in private settings: I had once been told that my gentle touch, on the shoulder or thigh of another man, made others in the room uncomfortable — the same touch straight couples so easily take for granted.

I’ve refused affection in public more often then I’ve accepted. I like to think that’s a matter of taste and propriety; but if I leave out fear in this equation, I’d be lying.

There are no safe spaces.

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When I woke that Sunday, a mind full of the upcoming PRIDE parade and a new project, I was appalled, but not surprised, to see that a gunman had killed twenty at a gay night club in Orlando.

Through the morning, I followed the story, weeping with the queer community as we learned that twenty was in reality forty-nine with more than fifty others injured. I stood beside my local community as we marched for PRIDE, signs silently echoing the loss in Orlando.

And even those moments were wrought with danger: a man headed to the event had been arrested hours before, his car laden with an arsenal and explosives: the worst members of Christianity represented their community with signs and bullhorns proclaiming that “God hates Fags.”

There are no safe spaces.

Indeed, since the massacre at Pulse, Orlando, politicians, pastors, and everyday Americans have proclaimed that the victims deserved their deaths for simply being queer (or queer adjacent).

These examples are a small taste of constant messaging of hate and rejection I’ve encountered in my experience as a privileged, educated, queer, white man in The United States. Is it any wonder that the Orlando shooter was motivated by a mix of self-hate, homophobia, and religious confusion? It isn’t to me for that is a world I’ve always known.

There are no safe spaces.

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Messages of rejection, hate, anger, violence, cruelty, and religion are so deeply intertwined in culture and belief that simply choosing to be queer is a radical act.

Before we know we are queer, we are told that we are hated. Before we have sexual desires, we are taught they are wrong. Before we understand our own bodies we are limited to the gender binary.

There is a long and rich history of queer humanity — from Alexander, who briefly united to world; to Richard, Lionhearted, who inspired it; to Alan Turing, who, though he managed to save the world, was ultimately persecuted and destroyed for being queer.

I had to hunt for my heroes and role models because they were hidden from me. History books didn’t mention them, or worse, erased their queerness.

There are no safe spaces.

To change what is, we must be willing to change the way we are. That starts with what we say to children and how we act in front of them. If we want to stop young men from killing others we must embody compassion for all.

In the absence of compassion, hate is allowed to grow.

There are no safe spaces. So let’s make them.
—–

K Ryan Henisey is a creative professional living in Los Angeles. His #ArtToEndViolence works have appeared in locations throughout Southern California, the titular pieces winning an Award of Excellence at the California State Fair, 2015.

Pulse is painted ink with minimal acrylic and sharpie on 140 lb paper, 42×42 inches.

Forty-nine monarch butterflies are shown emerged from a glowing heart. The artist narrative above is scrawled along a neon, Orlando skyline. The names of those killed during the massacre are written in red, blue, and black.

Pulse will be on display at Gallery 825 in West Hollywood as part of Los Angeles Art Association’s special Out There show celebrating the cities Pride festivities.

—–

I hate the way

I wrote a poem this morning. It made me giggle and think of a few of my favorite paintings. And, as much as I hate commuting, it has proven to be a (slow) steady font of inspiration.
The best part is the pacing. I love how, like sitting in traffic, the narrative gets angrier and angrier. That’s what it’s like in my head if I let my focus linger too long. 


I hate the way you congregate
And take a slower pace.
I loathe the left-ward change of lane
That stills a forward place.

I wish death on those who chug along
And never let me pass —
For miles and miles you’ve blocked the lanes,
You mother-fucking ass.

And what the fuck is up with those
Who zoom to cut you off
Then break real hard and slow you down
But feel you shouldn’t scoff?

Oh, fuck the world and fuck you all
And fuck this highway too:
This bird I throw, this honk I blow,
It’s aimed at fucking you.

Dear family 

Tyler Clementi was driven to suicide for being gay. When we excuse hate-driven language and actions, young people die.

Dear family,

I don’t know what to say to you because the things that you say to others and the things you don’t say to me already ring with the sounds hate, discrimination, and everything you taught us not to be. 

I see when you comment on news articles. They trickle through my feed. 

I see your posts to each other. They’re difficult not to read. 

I can see the things you like and the people in your life. 

I can see when you do nothing. 

I can see you. 

I can see. 

Bri Golec was murdered by her father for being Trans.

Your gleeful support of men and platforms which have clearly stated their hatred for Queers, Muslims, Black Americans, women, and the disabled is confusing and upsetting. 

That support echoes: at worst, of the bully-boys on the school yard teasing me to tears; at best, of the silent, sneering children as the others called their jeers. 

Would you see me converted through electroshock therapy? 

Am I to blame, in my queerness, for the nation’s faults? 

Do you believe that our fellow citizens should register based on their religion? 

Or that women are objects for men to taunt and abuse? 

Do you believe that a publicly operating business should be able to turn me away simply for a perception of queerness? 

And for that matter, do you even support my right to marry? 

Do you think I’m evil? 

How do I help you see that there is no difference between some discrimination and totally oppression.

Your behavior, your silence, and your support for these men and platforms leads me believe that the answer to each is yes. 

Yes to torture and to blame. Yes to abuse and to discrimination. Yes to the perception of evil. 

Dear family. I don’t know what to say to you because the things that you say to others and the things you don’t say to me already ring with the sounds hate, discrimination, and everything you taught us not to be.