@surejest1121 - The Art of Being Queer - Artist Feature

Tonight's fabulous queer artist feature is @surejest1121

Artist Statement:

I was born in Palm Springs in 1960. When I was in my thirties I decided to go to college and received my BFA from VCU and MFA from Rutgers University, but it wasn’t until the last 3 years that I dedicated full time to Art. I live in San Diego, California, where the year round lifestyle heavily influences my work.

This current series of paintings was inspired by gay life online, how we present ourselves to each other, how we treat each other, and the series is working towards showing how fine the line is between taste and discrimination in our little pool of people.

The work started with a small group of archetypical behaviors but has expanded and become a snapshot of our community as I have experienced it. A family portrait if you will. Our community is so rich and diverse, and I can only paint so fast, but the series is slowly unfolding, each painting like a chapter in a very long story. Bears, Otters, Twinks, Daddies, Asians, Blacks, Latinos, Caucasians, Queers, Masculinity, Femininity, Judgement, Joy, Fear, Desire, Love, Curiosity, Sexuality, exploration, Thrupples, Couples, Discrimination, Taste, Bondage, Submission, HIV, all have made an appearance in the story so far. We have family we are born with and family we choose as the saying goes. This series is my chosen family.

For years I have painted guys in pools.

Pools are metaphor rich environments: Fluids, purity, cleanliness, inclusion, exclusion, the pool of humanity. There is no doubt Hockney was a huge influence on me early on, but my take has always been from a different viewpoint. I remember seeing Pool with Two Figures when I was a kid and being in awe. There in the painting was the pool I felt I belonged to, the pool of gay men, portrayed and honoured, out in the open, not hidden or something to be ashamed of. I felt acceptance by the world through this single piece of Art.

When I started painting full time again a few years ago the pool was a logical place to start. But times had changed. We were more accepted socially. I saw the pool metaphor as a way to isolate and highlight some interesting behaviours within the community. On top of that those who are inside the pool and those who are outside and the different viewpoints was fascinating to me.

When I started this series I found other gay men towing the line between taste and discrimination in their profiles by stating outwardly their likes and dislikes. Other viewers perusing profiles would come across statements invalidating in a way their own identity without even a hello it’s nice to meet you. It was curious to me that after fighting for years for equality we had found ways to discriminate against each other now in the apps and online. I wanted to begin the series with basic behaviours, which expanded as the series grew to relationships

When I started this series I planned out the first 20 paintings with a plan to do 60 before moving on to the next series. I treat each paintings as a chapter in a larger narrative so before I work with the models I have a clear goal. I want to do a book also to wrap things up with it. The book will be paintings and poetry. I have 2 Instagram accounts, one with the paintings (@surejest1121) and one where I’ve invited poets to write about paintings that inspire them (@davidmjester). The collaboration account has exceeded my expectations in regards to the poetry and has been a great experience.

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