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Beth Van Hoesen: Portraits from the Castro, An Exhibition to Benefit the Rainbow Honor Walk

Rainbow Honor Walk

Beth Van Hoesen: Portraits from the Castro, An Exhibition to Benefit the Rainbow Honor Walk

George Krevsky Gallery, 77 Geary (at Grant), San Francisco January 3 – February 1, 2014

5 December 2013–San Francisco, CA: The Rainbow Honor Walk ( ), a monument to be built in San Francisco’s Castro district to honor historic LGBT figures, announces a fundraising exhibition of artworks by Beth Van Hoesen, the late Castro district resident and nationally recognized artist. Beth Van Hoesen: Portraits from the Castro, on view at George Krevsky Gallery from January 3 through February 1, 2014, features more than 20 original works donated by the E. Mark Adams and Beth Van Hoesen Adams Trust to raise funds for the construction of San Francisco’s newest public monument. Available artworks include watercolors, drawings, and prints from the 1990s that depict colorful personalities that Van Hoesen encountered in her neighborhood, including well-known figures in the LGBT community. Beth Van Hoesen: Portraits from the Castro, An Exhibition to Benefit the Rainbow Honor Walk is free and open to the public at George Krevsky Gallery, 77 Geary (at Grant), Suite 205, in the Union Square District of downtown San Francisco. Gallery hours are Tuesdays through Saturdays, 11am–5:30pm. On Thursday evening, January 9th, the Gallery will be open for the First Thursday Gallery Walk, 5:30 to 7:30pm. The works are also available for online viewing at or .

For more than forty years, Beth Van Hoesen (1926-2010) and her husband, artist and designer Mark Adams (1925-2006), lived in an old firehouse on 22nd Street at the top of the Castro Street hill, where they maintained their studios. For many years, Van Hoesen and Adams hosted weekly figure- and portrait-drawing sessions, joined by prominent Bay Area artists Robert Bechtle, William Theophilus Brown, Gordon Cook, Wayne Thiebaud, and others.

In the late 1980s and 1990s, Van Hoesen became particularly fascinated with people she saw in her neighborhood, occasionally inviting them to pose for her at the firehouse. Many of these artworks from Van Hoesen’s sessions with her Castro neighbors have not previously been exhibited or available. The drawings, watercolors, and color etchings of Castro personalities range from leather-clad, dyed, and tattooed punks and queers, to well-known figures such as the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and the late Jose Sarria, known as The Widow Norton. Thanks to this generous gift from the artist’s estate these portraits are now available to benefit the Rainbow Honor Walk.

“We are absolutely thrilled and so grateful for the generosity of this gift of artworks to benefit The Rainbow Honor Walk,” said David Perry, Rainbow Honor Walk founder and Board President. “The fact that these portraits celebrate some of the Castro’s noted personalities is more than perfect, particularly coming from an artist of the stature of Beth Van Hoesen. We are happy to offer these works to benefit our fundraising efforts.”

To make the exhibition possible Rainbow Honor Walk approached George Krevsky, a member of the San Francisco Art Dealers Association, and gallerist for more than 20 years. Krevsky lends his professional expertise, drawing on his commitment to showcasing art of the highest quality that documents the cultural history of the 20th century. Van Hoesen’s Castro portraits fit within the tradition of the Social Realist artists shown at the gallery, whose focus was to bring attention and give voice to the under recognized. Van Hoesen’s artworks give voice and are a lasting testament to the energy of the LGBT community and residents of San Francisco. To complement the show, the gallery will exhibit additional works by Van Hoesen and related artists.

Portland-area critic Bob Hicks, who has written extensively about Van Hoesen’s work, notes: “The most surprising thing about these bright, giddy portraits is that Van Hoesen, by then in her seventies, did them. She painted the performers as big bold rare birds, mostly close-up, in uncharacteristic splashes of color filling the whole frame. The Sisters have huge eyelashes, gaudy baubles, exaggerated makeup, and vivid eye shadow. Van Hoesen concentrated on capturing their showy sense of highly personal style.”

Throughout her career, Beth Van Hoesen was honored for her artistic achievements, including a 1981 Award of Honor in Graphics from the San Francisco Arts Commission, and a 1993 Distinguished Artist Award from the California Society of Printmakers. Her works have been the subject of numerous exhibitions and publications, and are in important museums collections across the U.S. and abroad that include the J.P. Morgan Library, New York, and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. During the past two years, solo exhibitions of Van Hoesen’s paintings, drawings, and prints have been presented at several U.S. museums, including the University Art Museum, Iowa State University, Ames; Racine Art Museum, Wisconsin; McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, Texas; Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama; and the Monterey Museum of Art in California.

Envisioning the Rainbow Honor Walk, a volunteer committee of community leaders received the unanimous support of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to create the sidewalk monument, featuring bronze plaques honoring noted personalities in LGBT history, with the first phase to be installed along Castro Street in 2014. Eventually, the walk will extend from the Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy on 19th Street at Diamond, down to Castro Street—the LGBT community’s “Main Street”—and will continue up Market Street with additional extensions on 18th Street. On Market Street, San Francisco’s main thoroughfare, the Walk will continue to the LGBT Center at Octavia Boulevard.

In 2012, The Rainbow Honor Walk solicited design proposals from around the world for plaques to be installed along the sidewalk route. A jury of artists and cultural leaders selected the winning design by architect Carlos Casuso of Madrid, Spain.

The Rainbow Honor Walk salutes the groundbreaking achievements of noted LGBT persons throughout history. The first 20 names were announced in 2011, and will have plaques dedicated in their honor in the coming year. The first 20 honorees selected for The Rainbow Honor Walk are:
Jane Addams (1860-1935), Social worker, first American woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize, 1931.
James Baldwin (1924-87), American novelist, playwright, essayist, poet, civil rights activist.
George Choy (1960-93): Activist for Asian & Pacific Islander youth and people with AIDS.
Federico Garcia Lorca (1898-1936), Spanish poet, playwright, political activist.
Allen Ginsberg (1926-97), American poet. San Francisco Beat poet/Free speech activist.
Keith Haring (1958-90), American artist and AIDS activist.
Harry Hay (1912-2002), English born writer, gay rights activist. Founder of The Mattachine Society, 1950.
Sylvester James (1947-88), American disco star, soul singer, San Francisco performer.
Christine Jorgensen (1926-89), Pre-eminent American transgender pioneer and advocate.
Frida Kahlo (1907-54), Mexican artist whose work has been celebrated as emblematic of national and indigenous tradition.
Del Martin (1921-2008), American feminist, gay rights activist. Founder Daughters of Bilitis.
Yukio Mishima nee Kimitake Hiraoka (1925-70), Japanese playwright, poet, actor, film director.
Bayard Rustin (1912-87), American civil rights leader.
Randy Shilts (1951-94), San Francisco journalist, biographer.
Gertrude Stein (1874-1946), American novelist, essayist, playwright.
Alan Turing (1912-54), British scientist who broke the Nazi’s Enigma Code and father of the modern computer, cryptanalyst, logician, mathematician.
Tom Waddell (1937-87), American athlete, physician, founder of the Gay Games.
Oscar Wilde (1854-1900), Irish playwright, poet, novelist, essayist.
Tennessee Williams (1911-83), American dramatist, poet, novelist.
Virginia Woolf (1882-1941), English novelist, essayist, publisher.