'The Sexuality Spectrum' At Charter Oak

Charter Oak Cultural Center exhibit focuses on 'sexuality spectrum'

In July 2011, same-sex marriage was legalized in New York by the state legislature. In the months leading up to the historic decision, Laura Kruger paid close attention to foes of the measure. "There was such hatred. People were irrational. Their arguments were irrational," she said. "I realized that this was one of the great injustices in the world."

As curator of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion Museum, Kruger felt a kinship with the LGBT community. "My first response to the question 'what is the Holocaust' would usually be 'a focused attempt to destroy the Jewish people,'" she said. "But if I were a homosexual I would say that same sentence and add the words 'and all homosexuals.'"

Kruger mounted an art exhibit "to address the situation of fear of the unknown. ... to make the unknown known." Her show, "The Sexuality Spectrum," was a hit, and has gone on the road to Philadelphia, Tulsa, Miami Beach and now Hartford. It is showing now at Charter Oak Cultural Center.

The show covers a range of LGBT issues, from the funny to the tragic. Ten lighthearted New Yorker magazine covers having fun with LGBT and gender-role issues open the exhibit, across the entry way from Linda Gissen's "Mirror to My Soul," a mask made from a shattered mirror. Nathan Hilu's crayon-on-paper "Adam and Eve" shows the couple fused together, to indicate the feminine inside every man and the masculine inside every woman. Benton Murdoch Spruance's 1952 color lithograph "Jacob Wrestling with the Angel" shows the two men in an embrace.

Donald Woodman's two photographs show men, dressed in women's clothes, attending a rodeo. Another photo, "Joy/Jay Ladin" by Joan Roth, is a close-up portrait of a happy woman, whose prominent Adam's apple reveals her earlier life as a man. Richard Grune's untitled 1947 lithograph reflects Grune's younger days in Nazi Germany, where he was sent to a concentration camp after confessing to being gay.

Leonard Meiselman's acrylic on canvas "Anxiety/Guilt" shows eyes peeking out of geometric shapes. In his statement, Meiselman writes "The eyes are seeking affirmation, presence and awareness. Through doubt, regret, fear, the eyes seek contact, understanding, love."

THE SEXUALITY SPECTRUM will be at Charter Oak Cultural Center, 21 Charter Oak Ave. in Hartford, until Dec. 12. www.charteroakcenter.org.

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