Author Talk: Pier Groups: Art and Sex Along the New York Waterfront
Please note: At the Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Center, all programs and services for adults are cancelled through May 15, 2020. Some supportive services and the community book group will be offered in virtual formats, please check the event page on their website to know if the program is happening virtually or if it is cancelled.
The Library at Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center and the Art Department at Cedar Crest College presents a book talk with Jonathan Weinberg, author of Pier Groups: Art and Sex Along the New York Waterfront.
The New York Times says Pier Groups is “An alluring homage to a time, a community, and a landscape that have long since vanished” and The Gay and Lesbian Review wrote that Pier Groups provides "a fascinating glimpse at a place and time that may be gone but which, thanks to Weinberg, will not be forgotten."
In 1970s New York City, the abandoned piers of the Hudson River became a site for extraordinary works of art and a popular place for nude sunbathing and anonymous sex. Jonathan Weinberg’s provocative book—part art history, part memoir—weaves interviews, documentary photographs, literary texts, artworks, and film stills to show how avant-garde practices competed and mingled with queer identities along the Manhattan waterfront.
Artists as varied as Vito Acconci, Alvin Baltrop, Shelley Seccombe, and David Wojnarowicz made work in and about the fire-ravaged structures that only twenty years before had been at the center of the world’s busiest shipping port. At the same time, the fight for the rights of LGBT people, spurred by the 1969 Stonewall riots, was dramatically transforming the cultural and social landscape of New York City. Gay men suddenly felt free to sunbathe on the piers naked, cruise, and have sex in public. While artists collaborated to transform the buildings of Pier 34 into makeshift art studios and exhibition spaces, gay men were converting Pier 46 into what Delmas Howe calls an “arena for sexual theater.”
Featuring one hundred exemplary works from the era and drawing from a rich variety of source material, interviews, and Weinberg’s personal experience, Pier Groups breaks new ground to look at the relationship of avant-garde art to resistant subcultures and radical sexuality.
Author Jonathan Weinberg is the curator of the Maurice Sendak Foundation and teaches at the Yale School of Art and the Rhode Island School of Design. He is the author of Male Desire: The Homoerotic in American Art and Ambition and Love in Modern American Art. He is the lead curator for the touring exhibition Art After Stonewall, 1969–1989, organized by the Columbus Museum of Art to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Stonewall riots.
Books will be for available for purchase and a book signing will follow the book talk.
Library events at Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center are sober-social events. Alcohol will not be present.