Tomasello's collage fuses personal experiences as a gender-fluid LGBTQ+ person with narratives from the historical and popular culture they absorbed as a young adult during the 1980's and 1990's. This period was one of immense fascination, beauty, and horror for the artist. The Writing on the Wall (NYC, 1991) captures an amalgamation of their visual memory from this tumultuous and creative time period.
"As much as I was intoxicated by the art, fashion, music, and beautifully-diverse people I encountered daily. I was equally horrified by the wave of death washing through the LGBTQ community due to AIDS. Anger over the lack of response from local and national government and mainstream media to this late twentieth-century plague was literally flowing onto the streets in the form of protests, disturbances, and die-ins."
One of the artist's most vivid memories from this time is one of the exterior surfaces (wall, doors, fences, etc.) of downtown Manhattan. They seemed to be covered with colorful and diverse posters, street art, and advertisements. This signage reflected the stark duality of the modern day, where the horror of the AIDS epidemic and the fight against death coexisted with the unceasing drive to create new life, art, and culture.
To learn more about Julien Tomasello click here.
Close up of The Writing on the Wall by Tomasello, pt 1
Close up of The Writing on the Wall by Tomasello, pt 2
Close up of The Writing on the Wall by Tomasello, pt 3
Devon Reiffer creates art with the hope that viewers will see themselves in their work. They are an artist of social change, and their mission is to create art that allows viewers to see one another and reconnect to their humanity. Devon merges traditional techniques with non-traditional concepts to create art that furthers the visibility of intersecting LGBTQIA+ identities through layers of charcoal and gesso. This gives their work a monochromatic display creating undefinable grey areas both visually and conceptually. The message reflected in every work is: the world was and will never be black and white. Every person’s existence falls somewhere in a unique shade of gray, and each has a purpose that contributes to the overall picture.
To learn more about Devon Reiffer click here.
Devon Reiffer, coLors, 2018, charcoal, gesso, and pastel on
un-stretched canvas, 55'' x 71''
The Gay Era was a gay newspaper that ran between 1974 to 1980, for roughly 5 years. For the majority of its lifespan the newspaper was created to cater towards the gay experience in rural Pennsylvania. This page includes general information on the Gay Era newspaper, its production, and goal as well as a exploration of Aries, who's artwork is featured across editions of the newspaper.
More information on the Gay Era, including digital pdfs can be found at the Dickinson College Archives.
The Gay Era, also known sometimes as the Lancaster Gay Era was a newspaper published monthly, sold for between 25₵ at its cheapest and 75₵ at its most expensive. A variety of people worked on the paper while it was operating with some notable names being Sadie, David Leas, Bari Weaver, and Harry Long. These names are not representative of the entire staff of the Gay Era but are seen to appear multiple times throughout the paper's publication history. Some typical content within the paper was a satirical advice column (run by Sadie), updates and events in LGBTQ+ news, community announcements, and a list of resources in rural Pennsylvania for members of the LGBTQ+ community.
The header on the cover of the Gay Era, as pictured above, consisted of the title over a stylized version of two circles with both the standard male and female sex symbols. The over lapping male sex symbol represents same-sex relationships between men, while the overlapping female sex symbols represents same-sex relationships between women. Included also is the lambda symbol and the iconic image of the hands reaching out to each other from Michelangelo's Creation of Adam. This cover head fluctuated over the issues but generally maintained these aspects over time, eventually in the last few issues this was simplified to just be the title, the Gay Era.
Aries Creative Design Concepts Advertisement, The Gay Era vol. 4 no. 2, April 1978
Harry Long was a major contributor to the Gay Era, both under his own name and under the name of Aries. Under his own name (with a few exceptions) Harry Long was a writer, publisher, and editor for the Gay Era. Under the name Aries and with the Aries Creative Design Concepts company, Harry worked on the design and layout of the newspaper and drew for the paper. Many of Aries's handiwork, primarily in the form of sketches and drawings, are featured throughout the Gay Era. Due to the nature of the print and Harry's own identity as a gay man, the vast majority of his work focused on queerness, the expression of his own sexuality, and the male form. In the early editions of the paper, specifically volume 2 no. 1 and no. 2 of the papers housed at the Dickinson Archives, artwork from Harry Long appears and is signed with HL. It is in volume 2 no. 3 that the name Aries first appears on covers and artwork.
The creation of the Aries Creative Design Concepts came from Harry's effort to start his own freelance graphic design business and in an effort to diversify the names of contributors to the Gay Era.
Harry has a long history with both political and humor based newspapers, both which apply to the Gay Era. In his senior year at Lebanon High School, in conjunction with Phil Clark and Jimmy Shaffer, Harry started an underground newspaper. This was not the only underground newspaper that Harry started and worked on as he then moved onto be the editor of the Stentorium, an albeit short lived, underground newspaper for Lebanon, PA. Harry describes himself as "married to the artwork and the writing." In his oral history as part of the LGBT History Project of Central Pennsylvania, Harry also ties his involvement in queer newspapers to his own coming out:
Cover art for the Gay Era vol. 2 no. 1, March, 1976 by Harry Long
Cover art for the Gay Era vol. 2 no. 2, April, 1976 by Harry Long
In the first issue of volume 5, published in June of 1979, the Gay Era featured a piece on Aries, called the Aries Portfolio. Below are images from that portfolio and other works of art by Aries throughout the expanse of the Gay Era's publication.
Aries Art Portfolio, the Gay Era, vol. 5, no. 1 June 1979