Rooms: The Everard
Watercolor and watercolor crayon on paper
18 1/2h x 15 1/2w in (46.99 x 39.37 cm)
Courtesy Fierman and the artist
Jimmy Wright (b. 1944, Kentucky) studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and became friends with the False Image group, including Philip Hanson, Christina Ramberg and Roger Brown. His early work was lost in a fire in 1970. Wright settled in New York in 1974 and started making pastels and drawings of the city’s gay life in bathhouses and bars until about 1976. The Everard Baths, depicted in this work, was a Turkish bath founded by financier James Everard in 1888 in a former church building at 28 West 28th Street. It operated as a gay bathhouse from 1888 until 1986, when the city closed such venues during the AIDS epidemic.
[H]is casually explicit depictions of gay nightlife—cruising, public sex, and socializing in clubs, bathrooms, and bathhouses, speak to a bygone era of downtown subculture. “This is the world of the Weimar Republic,” the artist has said of the post-Stonewall, pre-AIDS moment he represents here. “Too rich visually not to record.” … Wright deploys various strains of punk-inflected, cartoony, or wry juvenile figuration—his characters are sketchy, simplified, even clumsy sometimes… There’s a profound political dimension in being—as Wright’s friend, the writer and curator Bruce Kurtz, who died of AIDS-related complications in 2003, half-jokingly called him—the “gay Toulouse-Lautrec.”