Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Cottage Culture and Queer Culture: Larry Glawson Q&A out in today's Post

A few weeks ago, the prop 8 ruling in California got both sides of the gay marriage debate ready for more courtroom theatrics down the road. While I'm very happy that gay marriage and gay rights are gaining ground in California (and hopefully elsewhere!) I also found it interesting around that time to talk on the phone with Larry Glawson, a Winnipeg artist who takes a more personal approach to queer culture and politics.

For the past 30 years, Glawson has focused on taking pictures of friends and family, which includes his partner, Doug Melnyk. While he has done some queer-focused projects, in particular the Anonymous Gay and Lesbian Portrait Project, his work tends to revolve a lot around photography and the everyday.

Currently, Gallery One One One in Winnipeg has an unusual retrospective up of Glawson's work; it focuses exclusively on Glawson's portraits of Melnyk through the years, several of which have never been exhibited before. My related Q&A with him is out in today's National Post. An excerpt:

Q: This exhibit features photos that you’ve taken of your partner, Doug, over 30 years. What was it like for you two to see this exhibition develop?

A: It was an interesting process. The curator, J.J. Kegan McFadden, came up with the idea. He knew about a 1993 exhibition in Winnipeg that showed portraits Walter Gramatte did of his wife over a similar time period. So he proposed doing a retrospective of my work that way. Getting to work with someone on a retrospective was a positive thing for me, and the idea of using Doug as the spine of the show was also interesting. He basically has been there since the beginning and has been involved with every body of work I’ve produced. For Doug, I think it was both flattering and daunting to have to see 30 years of photos of himself all in one space. I was a bit nervous about it, too.


Q: Some people think of your work as being about gay culture. But looking at this show, it also seems a lot about cottage culture! Why are so many of these photos from the cottage?

A: I guess that speaks to the larger position of my work as being about the personal and about my everyday world. I didn’t go out to seek subject matter; my subject matter was what was around me. The cottage in these photographs is Doug’s family’s cottage, and my introduction to cottage life came through them.
Also, I do think the cottage, for me, was an exotic location; it wasn’t part of my family growing up. I was fascinated with the way people behave at the cottage; there’s this strange kind of leisure and work combination in the way that people are often in bathing suits and sitting around but always doing maintenance and building at the same time. And of course there’s partying, too! Throughout, a large part of my overall interest is in what things end up being when they are turned into a photograph, no matter what they are.

I urge everyone to take a look at the online version of the exhibition at http://umanitoba.ca/schools/art/galleryoneoneone/glawson03.html. There's some really nice pics in there.

(Image of Larry Glawson's Off-Dock 1985 from the National Post)

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