Luis De Jesus Los Angeles is very pleased to present ZACKARY DRUCKER: ICONS, currently on view at the Baltimore Museum of Art, from March 1, 2020 through June 28, 2020. The exhibition was curated by Leslie Cozzi, Associate Curator, Prints, Drawings and Photographs at the Baltimore Museum of Art.
ZACKARY DRUCKER: ICONS is part of BMA's 2020 Vision, a year of exhibitions and programs dedicated to the presentation of the achievements of female-identifying artists. The initiative encompasses 13 solo exhibitions and seven thematic shows beginning in fall 2019 and continuing throughout 2020.
The initiative is part of the BMA’s ongoing implementation of its broader vision to address race and gender diversity gaps within the museum field, and to represent more fully and deeply the spectrum of individuals that have shaped the trajectory of art. 2020 Vision builds on the BMA’s efforts over the last several years to expand its presentations of women artists and artists of color, and to more accurately reflect the community in which it lives. It also coincides with the 100th anniversary of the passing of the 19th Amendment, ratified on August 18, 1920, which guaranteed women in the U.S. the right to vote.
“The BMA’s 2020 Vision initiative serves to recognize the voices, narratives, and creative innovations of a range of extraordinarily talented women artists. The goal for this effort is to rebalance the scales and to acknowledge the ways in which women’s contributions still do not receive the scholarly examination, dialogue, and public acclaim that they deserve,” said Christopher Bedford, BMA Dorothy Wagner Wallis Director. “This vision and goal are especially appropriate, given the central role women have played in shaping this museum throughout its history.”
Photographer, producer, and activist Zackary Drucker (born Syracuse, NY 1983) has reshaped contemporary conversations around gender presentation and identity within art and popular culture. Zackary Drucker: Icons intertwines narratives of the artist and her mentor, Rosalyne Blumenstein, LCSW, who helped popularize the term “transgender” and directed the pioneering Gender Identity Project at what is now the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center in New York City. Blumenstein’s memoir Branded T (2003) celebrates a journey into womanhood and records the transphobic abuse generations of gender non-conforming individuals suffered so that “so many of us could just be, become, live.”
In this gallery, collaged snapshots of Blumenstein form a backdrop for Drucker’s photographs, historically and visually connecting mentor and mentee. These images capture Blumenstein living authentically in her early years in New York and her later advocacy alongside luminaries like journalist Barbara Walters and Dr. Barbara Warren, an influential advocate for LGBT healthcare policy inclusion.
Drucker’s work investigates the personal and political significance of idealized female beauty for individuals whose basic right to exist is constantly questioned. In a society that often ignores, ridicules, or exploits trans women, Drucker’s celebration of Blumenstein’s appearance is a powerful political gesture. The stylized aesthetic of the “glamour shot” becomes a way to embody sexual power and autonomy, while the close-up lays bare the scars that the performance of gender can inflict. The unflinching intimacy of Drucker’s self-portraits following medical procedures—whether invasive facial feminization surgeries or mundane vision checks—evokes artists such as Diane Arbus, Nan Goldin, Peter Hujar, and David Wojnarowicz.
A generation after her heyday in the demimonde, Blumenstein relocated to Southern California and became, among other things, muse and mentor to LA-based trans multimedia artist Zackary Drucker, who regards Blumenstein as one of her legendary foremothers—an iconically feminine, decidedly binary-gendered incarnation of Botticelli’s Venus. The power of an iconic image is its capacity to simultaneously represent many desires, however contradictory or mutually exclusive, that exceed everything invested in it. Drucker’s recent photographs of Blumenstein embody the fantasy of the fierce, street-smart trans girl who survives into empowered womanhood—a lived reality attested to by Blumenstein’s own compelling photographic archive.
“My transition from young white boy with a false sense of privilege in the 1970s to young tranny-girl with little or no privilege was a real smack in the face. My spirit and soul seemed to be uplifted and smashed on a daily basis.”
- Rosalyne Blumenstein, Branded T
TAKE A VIRTUAL WALK THROUGH OF THE EXHIBITION. (CLICK ON THE LINK ABOVE)
We would like to acknowledge and offer our sincere thanks to Zackary Drucker and Rosalyne Blumenstein, along with curator Leslie Cozzi and all of the people who helped realize the ZACKARY DRUCKER: ICONS exhibition at the Baltimore Museum of Art. Additionally, we would like to thank the writer Susan Stryker and Aperture Magazine, whose article "Rosalyne Blumenstein and the Art of Living" we've quoted from in this presentation.
All photographs by Zackary Drucker courtesy of Luis De Jesus Los Angeles. Wallpaper images from the personal archive of Rosalyne Blumenstein. Exhibition text, installation images and video courtesy of the Baltimore Museum of Art.
The Baltimore Museum of Art has extended the closure of its galleries and canceled all public events and programs through the end of April 2020. It continues to monitor the latest updates regarding COVID-19, and will adjust its plans according to guidance from state and federal officials. They hope to reopen to the public in May for regular museum hours. Please check the museum website before planning a visit. www.artbma.org
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