Legendary photographer Bruce Bellas, better known as Bruce of Los Angeles, has been honored with a new, highly-anticipated show at Pop tART Gallery in Koreatown. In conjunction with Pacific Standard Time, “Bruce of Los Angeles: Beefcakes and Boundaries” showcases Bellas' erotic original prints and cutting-edge published work alongside other pieces from contemporary artists.
“[Bellas] had a huge influence on mainstream photography,” Phyllis Navidad, owner of Pop tART Gallery, told us at the opening recently. “Everyone from Herb Ritts to Robert Mappelthorpe to Bruce Weber — ask any of them, and they'll tell you they've found inspiration from him.
Recognized as one of the early pioneers of erotic photography, Bellas was an important fixture in gay history and in the art world. He was known for photographing the hunks of Muscle Beach in Los Angeles and for his own male physique pin-up magazine, Male Figure.
“We wanted to embrace and show L.A.'s gay history,” explained the exhibit's curator, Jimmy Vogel. “It's important because New York gets credited with so much [gay] history, but a lot of it happened here.”
At the opening, in a packed gallery, other featured artists at the show were quick to praise the exhibit and Bellas.
“It's a nicely curated,” said Jesse Finely Reed, whose highly popular photography was displayed. “The new pieces are placed between Bruce's, which creates a conversation and you can see what's been carried on.”
Artist John Arsenault, who contributed a sexy, stripped-down self-portrait to the show, agreed: “It's important to see the history of it alongside a new generation of artists inspired by [Bellas].”
Even if queer history or culture isn't your jam, “Beefcakes and Boundaries” exudes a far more artistic edge than simply gay porn.
“it's not just about breaking down boundaries or about sex,” said Navidad. “It's an inclusive show, where only a third of the artists are gay, and really it's about the spread of solidarity — art is solidarity.”
The exhibit will run through the end of December.
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