Friday, May 08, 2009

Erotic Art

A few months ago, my friend Angie sent me a postcard. It showed a briefcase poised vertically on its side. The leather folds were parted suggestively to mirror the sensuous anatomy of a woman. It takes you a few seconds to connect the dots, letting your mind wander from “hmmm…a briefcase” to “Oh! It’s a briefcase that looks just like THAT!” I think it’s a brilliant. The sculpture by Deborah Alma Wheeler was one of the works featured at the 2009 Seattle Erotic Art Festival. My friend Angie is a professional ballroom dancer who performed at the festival. In her card she wrote: “I could think of no other people I would rather share this with!” Then added, “I mean that as a compliment.”

So, after work last Friday, Mika and I met at the Seattle Center and stepped into a world of purple light, DJ music, and erotic art. Not everything was as subtle as the briefcase. There was a couch made completely out of blow up dolls, a table crafted from glowing dildos, and graphic images representing all colors and stripes of sexual taste.

Live performance pieces were also taking place. There was a bondage demonstration, artfully lit so that it cast interesting shadows against a backdrop. Elsewhere, an artist was painting completely believable “clothing” onto the body of a nude model using latex paint and fabric scraps (Suzy, a new outlet for your silk)? A culinary artist was arranging food across the back and hips of another nude model. The crowd was completely eclectic, from business people in suits to people in body paint being led around by a leash.

Seeing this kind of art scene takes the same kind of adjustment your eyes must make when stepping out of the bright light into a dark room. You have to wait a moment for your eyes to adapt, but once they do, everything looks right again. So, it was with the festival. Once my eyes adjusted, I was astounded by the amazing quality of erotic art that was hanging on the gallery walls. It ranged from highly figurative to abstract. The pieces were beautiful and professional enough to be in a museum.

But, the best part was the live performances. It started with Angie’s dance, which of course was amazing (she was a doll being brought to life by a magician). The next act was performed by a member of Seattle’s Aerialistas (, a fabulous group of female acrobats. She spun herself into the air, by ascending two long streamers of purple silk. She would wrap the silk around her body, and then use it as support for climbing higher and higher and higher to where the silk was held near the ceiling of the convention center. Then, she would spin downwards, dancing, swirling, dangling. Beautiful! The evening went on like this. Just think liquid honey, “The Gaytrix,” candles, and incredibly talented acrobatic couples portraying the tension of emotional partnership.

I had to work the next morning, left before the party really got started around midnight. But, I may be going back next year. There is definitely something to be said for provocative, high-quality erotic art that challenges your perceptions and invites you to enter into a whole new world of art never really appreciated before.

1 comment:

Rebecca Bush said...

Thanks for the report, Sarah! :)
This brings me back to my first exposure to performance art in 1978. I am forever indebted to my junior college film teacher, whose name I cannot even recall, but who carted a van full of us youngsters from the sticks of Muskegon over to the Ann Arbor film festival (we slept on his friends' living room floor in sleeping bags!) I'll never forget the festival lobby, decorated in the theme "My Art Belongs to Dada" and standing in the middle of it was Pat Oleszko, a blond Amazon in high heels and dominatrix gear with a couple of Russian Wolfhounds on leash! We were like "OK-- that's cool..." but then later we saw even more of Pat as she performed on stage with her own film, dressing and undressing, both on the screen and on the stage. That was the definitive moment for me deciding to attend the School of Art at the University of Michigan.
It was so cutting edge! :)
I'll have to check out this Erotic Art Festival next year!