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The Art of Pride

Sure, there are the floats, the parade, the parties, but there's also the art: Three exhibitions celebrate and commemorate the LGBT community.


Long-Term Survivor Project

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A Salesman

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A Salesman first being installed over Market Street in 1979.

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Timmy Spence

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"People need to be reminded," says San Francisco Camerawork's director, Heather Snider, "of when AIDS first hit this country and what it means to live with it today. They don't really think about it anymore." This is the impetus behind Long-Term Survivor Project, an exhibit that recalls the HIV/AIDS crisis through works by three artists. Farnk Yamrus's portraits of people who have been HIV-positive for 20 years (above) chronicle its ongoing repercussions; Hunter Reynolds’s 30-foot-long series of woven-together news clippings from 1989 to 1993 memorializes the epidemic’s spread; and Grahame Perry offers creative interpretations of medications and tools associated with the disease.
June 4–July 18, 1011 Market St. (Near 6th St.)

When Gay Semiotics, Hal Fischer’s look at the visual coding mechanisms among gay men, opened at the Lawson DeCelle Gallery in 1977, it was more than a photography exhibit—it was an anthropological taxonomy. The tongue-in-cheek black-and-whites revealed gay archetypes and scandalous preference indicators (where you placed your ear piercing, handkerchief, or keys signified whether you were the passive or the aggressive partner). “Artists who dealt with those things tended to do it in a very prosaic, documentary fashion,” remembers Fischer. “But I wasn’t sensationalizing—I was celebrating this culture I was part of. And people got a kick out of it.” After a nearly 40-year hiatus, Semiotics finds a home at Ratio 3 gallery this month—and on the corner of Market and Guerrero, where you’ll find A Salesman, Fischer’s 22-foot billboard of a naked man and a mysterious phone number, which originally caused a stir above the Castro in 1979.
May 22–June 27, 2831A Mission St. (Near 24th St.)

San Francisco doesn’t just accept the queer community; it honors it—this month by showcasing over 80 portraits of LGBT leaders in City Hall. The outsize figures are part of Outspoken, the San Francisco Arts Commission’s exhibit of photographs by Roger Erickson, showing concurrently with Pride. Erickson, an Oakland native turned New York City transplant, has been snapping portraits of LGBT celebrities like Rachel Maddow, Rufus Wainwright, and Michelle Tea for the past six years. “I want to show that LGBT people are everywhere, in every facet of every life,” he says. “You see people you look up to—groundbreaking people like David Kopay, who was the first retired NFL player to come out as gay. What I really want is for people to see themselves in these figures and aspire to do more—to contribute to society rather than feel ostracized by it.” June 9–Sept. 11, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Pl. (Near Grove St.),