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Beth Van Hoesen: Portraits from the Castro - An exhibition to benefit the Rainbow Honor Walk
Beth Van Hoesen, Cookie, 1996, watercolor, colored pencil, graphite, glitter on paper, 22.38 x 14.88 inches. Photo by M. Lee Fatherree, Courtesy of the E. Mark Adams and Beth Van.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA.- George Krevsky Gallery presents, Beth Van Hoesen: Portraits from the Castro, on view from January 3 through February 1, 2014. A benefit exhibition featuring artworks donated by the E. Mark Adams and Beth Van Hoesen Adams Trust to raise funds for the construction of San Francisco’s newest public monument, the Rainbow Honor Walk. Available artworks include watercolors, drawings, and prints from the 1990s that depict colorful personalities that Van Hoesen encountered in her neighborhood, including well-known figures in the LGBT community. The exhibition is free and open to the public at the Gallery is located at 77 Geary Street in San Francisco’s Union Square neighborhood.

Celebrating the gallery’s 21st year, Krevsky has been dedicated to showcasing art of the highest quality that documents the cultural history of the 20th century. With a focus on the WPA, Ashcan, and Social Realist art movements, the gallery has a commitment to artists who give voice to the under recognized. Van Hoesen’s artworks give voice and are a lasting testament to the energy of the LGBT community and residents of San Francisco. To complement the show, the gallery will exhibit additional works by Van Hoesen and related artists.

For more than forty years, Beth Van Hoesen (1926-2010) and her husband, artist and designer, Mark Adams (1925-2006), lived in an old firehouse on 22nd Street at the top of the Castro Street hill, where they hosted weekly drawing sessions, joined by prominent Bay Area artists Robert Bechtle, William Theophilus Brown, Gordon Cook, Wayne Thiebaud, and others. In the late 1980s and 1990s, Van Hoesen became particularly fascinated with people she saw in her neighborhood, occasionally inviting them to pose for her at the firehouse exclusively.

Many of the artworks from Van Hoesen’s sessions with her Castro neighbors have not previously been exhibited or available until now. Artworks of Castro personalities range from leather-clad, dyed, and tattooed punks and queers, to well-known figures such as the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and the late Jose Sarria, known as The Widow Norton. Thanks to this generous gift from the artist’s estate these portraits are now available to benefit the Rainbow Honor Walk.

“We are absolutely thrilled and so grateful for the generosity of this gift of artworks to benefit the Rainbow Honor Walk,” said David Perry, founding board member of the Rainbow Honor Walk. “The fact that these portraits celebrate some of the Castro’s noted personalities is more than perfect, particularly coming from an artist of the stature of Beth Van Hoesen. We are happy to offer these works as premiums for donors to our fundraising efforts.”

Portland-area critic Bob Hicks, who has written extensively about Van Hoesen’s work, notes: “The most surprising thing about these bright, giddy portraits is that Van Hoesen, by then in her seventies, did them. She painted the performers as big bold rare birds, mostly close-up, in uncharacteristic splashes of color filling the whole frame. The Sisters have huge eyelashes, gaudy baubles, exaggerated makeup, vivid eye shadow. Van Hoesen concentrated on capturing their showy sense of highly personal style.”

Throughout her career, Beth Van Hoesen was honored for her artistic achievements, including a 1981 Award of Honor in Graphics from the San Francisco Arts Commission, and a 1993 Distinguished Artist Award from the California Society of Printmakers. Her works are in important museums collections across the U.S. and abroad that include the J.P. Morgan Library, New York, and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, and have been the subject of numerous exhibitions and publications. During the past two years, solo exhibitions of Van Hoesen’s paintings, drawings, and prints have been presented at several U.S. museums, including the University Art Museum, Iowa State University, Ames; Racine Art Museum, Wisconsin; McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, Texas; Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama; and the Monterey Museum of Art in California.

The Rainbow Honor Walk, a volunteer committee of community leaders, received the unanimous support of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to create the sidewalk monument, featuring bronze plaques honoring noted personalities in LGBT history, with the first phase to be installed along Castro Street in 2014. Eventually, the walk will extend from the Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy on 19th Street at Diamond, down to Castro Street—the LGBT community’s “Main Street”—and will continue up Market Street with additional extensions on 18th Street. On Market Street, San Francisco’s main thoroughfare, the Walk will continue to the LGBT Center at Octavia Boulevard.

In 2012, The Rainbow Honor Walk solicited design proposals from around the world for plaques to be installed along the sidewalk route. A jury of artists and cultural leaders selected the winning design by architect Carlos Casuso of Madrid, Spain.

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