Tuesday, August 01, 2006

What I like about Frank Muzzy

It was during my Easter Sunday Photo Walk through Dupont Circle that Jose would inquire of me if I knew who Frank Muzzy was. And when Jose mentioned that Muzzy had authored a book, Images of America: Gays and Lesbians in Washington DC and I then remembered that I heard him but, had never met him. I then said, to Jose, "What I like about Muzzy is that his work which is documentary and historical in nature not only attempts to shed light on the contributions that gays and lesbians make to society but, in the process, creates avenues and means by which gay and lesbian folk can tell their own story.

And while my focus is not, specifically, on the GLBT life and culture, the documentation of GLBT life and culture are as important to my work as are my foci pertaining to Afro-American and race issues. Neither which are the sum nor whole of my work.

And what I like about my work, specifically, which may be a bit different than that of Frank Muzzy is that without regards to race, color, creed, sexual orientation nor political persuasion I have strived to document, record and capture aspects of our society that may have nothing or little to do with afro-american history or gay culture. While also documenting gay life and black history.

On Thursday night, on my way home from an evening photo walk, I dropped in at the Green Lantern, for my third time in as many weeks. Maybe looking for a trick. But more, perhaps, simply because "I'm into the music". After ordering a bottle of water I'd sit on the stool to the right of the downstairs bar. During which time a man would walk up and say something to the effect "You must be a photographer...". To which I'd joking reply 'Yep, that's what it looks like!'. He'd then hand me an invitation flyer saying that he was opening a photographic exhibition on Saturday at Pulp on 14th Street. When I inquired as to the theme he said that his name was Frank Muzzy and that the show, entitled "Frankie Goes To Paris" , features architectural images that he had taken during a recent visit to Paris.

It was then that I would realize that he was the Frank Muzzy that Jose had spoke of on Easter Sunday. Wanting to bring attention to the show by posting an entry to my blog when I arrived home later that night I checked the web for Frank Muzzy.

And what I liked about what I found on the web about Frank Muzzy is his interest in history and documentation.

When I arrived at the New Art Exhibition on Saturday evening shortly before 8 PM I must say that I was quite impressed with Frank Muzzy's 'Frankie Goes To Paris'. A series of architectural images depicting homoeroticism found in Parisian statures, momuments, sculptures and architecture it brought to mind my architectural exploration in January 2006 when over the weekend of the 33rd March for Life that I would take a similar series photos in close proximity of the US Capitol.

During which time I would arouse so much suspicion from the police and out of concern that they would label me a terrorist I, immediately, would put the project on hold. What I like about Frank Muzzy is that his art and activism, since I first heard of him some years back on the TV news when his Images of America: Gays and Lesbians in Washington DC book was published, is that through his work Frank Muzzy not only inspires others to document and record their history but also challenges the individual to see life from a different perspective. As is the case with his images in the "Frankie Goes to Paris" exhibition.

What I like about Frank Muzzy are some of the similarities between or foci, including that of atrchitectural themes. My body of work and in particular prior to 11 September will indicate that I have always had n interest in architectural and historical photography.

What I liked about the Muzzy's "Frankie Goes to Paris" exhibition is that it has inspired me to resume my architectural, sculptural and monumental series.

What I liked about Frank Muzzy was the way that he approached me at the Green Lantern on the evening of 20 July who while joking 'You must be a photographer' handed me an invitation to the NEW ART EXHIBTION at the Pulp on 14th Street featuring the photographs of Frank Muzzy and the oil on canvas paintings by Dale Alward.

Alward's abstract and somewhat impressionistic exhibition, "A Sponge to Wipe Away the Weapon-Salve" exudes with emotions, is somewhat politcal and, yet, is dark, bold and personal in nature. Which I hope to review and comment on in a seperate entry, since this essay is about 'what I like about Frank Muzzy.'

Whether you'll straight, gay, black, white or whatever, may I suggest that you visit the NEW ART EXHIBITION at Pulp on 14th Street. The work of both artists, Frank Muzzy and Dale Alward are worth seeing. And while at Pulp on 14th Street you'll probably will find some other items that will tickle your fancy.

And while Frank Muzzy and I may have similar interests and foci as did Robert Mapplethorpe and I ... as gay white men ... I assure you that the life expereinces of Muzzy and Mapplethorpe are as different from mine as are night and day. So, perhaps, another difference between my documentary work and Muzzy is that I make it a point to integrate my writings with my photography.

Writings that reflect my experiecnes as a black gay man. As a documentary photographer I am always cognitive of the fact that a picture of a moment in time does not begin to tell the whole story. And, in fact, will often be used to misrepresent or distort the truth. You will note that whenever I post images to the web I always include, as part of its title, pertinent information pertaining to when and where it was taken. Similarly, when I hold exhibitions it is imperative that my writings be incorporated in the project.

While Frank Muzzy may have the freedom to travel to Paris and back again as did Mapplethorpe who traveled around the world ... I, as a 52 year old gay black man ... have not enjoyed the same freedoms. While, as a documentary photographer, I can easily connect with and appreciate Muzzy's work, it is imperative that my body of work speak on these issues.

What I like about Frank Muzzy ... is that he will be regarded as one the most important documentary artists of our times.


AP said...

i think you like a lot of things about frank muzzy :-)


Blog Host said...

CORRECTION: Frank Muzzy was never active in the Rainbow History Project nor has he ever been a member.

Elvert said...

AP, thanks for that bit of information and as will note I've deleted the sentence that says that Frank Muzzy was active in the Rainbow History Project.