Archive for the ‘a story’ Category

We have said many times before that Archives and Footnotes are wonderful things as one finds many truths in the archives and in the footnotes a chance to further ones interests and education. A case in point here is found in one of our footnotes, first found as a one liner in the book Stonewall and then researched in the Hartford area by Richard Nelson. One person who many of us in Connecticut do not know about is Ivan Valentin, performer, artist, and freedom fighter. Ivan was an early trailblazer and was a forceful catalyst for change here in Connecticut in 1975, a change that was needed and a change that we all can thank him for every time we see one of our drag sisters performing in a Ct. bar, (see footnote) and each time let us remember to shout out Ivan Valentin Presente’

This new piece, While Paris Was Burning, Hartford Sizzled, would not have been possible without the archives of Jerimarie Liesegang, the mother of the Ct. Trans movement. As Jeri was going through her archives preparing her collection for presentation to Central Ct. State University Equity and Diversity Collection she came upon an article written by Rebecca Boyden about the House of Pleasure. The House of Pleasure was one of the Houses that operated for a time in Hartford along with The House of Everlasting Empire, The House of Nations, The House of Freedom, the House of Flava, and The House of Ebony. In 1993 Hartford’s first drag ball, “Hartford Sizzles” spearheaded in part by the Hartford Gay and Lesbian Health Collective, and was held at the Project 100 Community Center. Other balls hosted by Houses were held from 1993-1997. The balls were not only a heck of a lot of fun but raised thousands of dollars over the years for HIV/AIDS organizations and other community groups.

Connecticut has a rich and long history in LGBTQ Advocacy and Activism. Yet we unfortunately do very little to document this amazing history, especially given the accessibility of the Internet and its archiving tools.  To this point, I (jerimarie) recall back in late 2003, I was chatting with Mucha at Tisane’s and he was relaying to me the Hartford Balls that were held in Hartford following a screening of When Paris Was Burning.  Having been a newcomer to the Greater Hartford area, I was not privy to this information and found his descriptions of the Balls utterly amazing.  I asked him if any of this was documented in detail and he said not really though he had VHS tapes of all the Balls.  So I said, let’s do a documentary on the balls so it can be preserved and be a historical archive for the community and allies.  So in late 2003 a project was born; and Jerimarie, her partner Anja, Mucha Mucha Placer the mother of the House of Pleasure and Kevin Smith produced a video of segments from the balls and interviews with the key participants to explain the balls and the categories created that were an important part of these events. The video was first shown at the Hartford Gay and Lesbian Film Festival in 2004. We dedicate this piece on furbirdsqueerly to Anja who left us all too soon and to all the folks who continued our communities stories.

Below are select images of some of the first ball participants:

Greta in her sunflower outfit. (more…)

The Mythology Show
a Group exhibition
at Artspace Hartford
555 Asylum Avenue,
Hartford, CT 06103

Public Reception with Live Music, Performance Art & Refreshments
Sat, Jan 26, 2019 from 6-9pm
Gallery open weekends Jan 19 & 20, 26 – 27, 12-7pm
or by appointment at
212.673.9074 ~

Facebook Page for the event is HERE.

New York City curator, painter and sculptor, Antony Zito, returns to his home state to compile a group exhibition on the theme of “mythology”. Featuring 19 New England artists who are represented through a carefully selected array of paintings, sculpture, photography and installation art, The Mythology Show will fill Artspace Hartford’s gallery and its subterranean “Grotto” with contemporary interpretations of the legends and archetypes of humankind. The women and men in this exhibition were selected based on their alignment with the following quote about the function of myths and stories in our lives:

“Shakespeare said that art is a mirror held up to nature. And that’s what it is. The nature is your nature, and all of these wonderful poetic images of mythology are referring to something in you. When your mind is trapped by the image out there so that you never make the reference to yourself, you have misread the image. The inner world is the world of your requirements and your energies and your structure and your possibilities that meets the outer world. And the outer world is the field of your incarnation. That’s where you are. You’ve got to keep both going. As Novalis said, ‘The seat of the soul is there where the inner and outer worlds meet.’ ”
– Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth (more…)

We have re-published our Harry Loves Benny. OUT in the Woods series written many moons ago. Our readers can find these stories over under our pages. This series first appeared in a blog called Queer Artist.

We re-publish this essay first published in 2014 in tribute to the thousands murdered by the military of Chile backed and supported by the U.S government.

Venceremos, Victor Jara

A year ago a few of us in the Hartford area were quite upset when a LGBT organization was sponsoring an empowerment workshop with the CIA. This workshop was to be held on September 9, 2013 just 2 days before the anniversary of the CIA/USA sponsored coup in Chile. This caused some heated tempers all around and some very condescending attitudes from a few young gay people and their supporters in the organization towards those of us who opposed these workshops. (see link in notes) I wanted to tell my story then but decided to wait, ( as a facebook event page with a hostile audience and shifting allegiances was no place,) until the anniversary of the coup in Chile and the murder of not only the democratically elected president Salvador Allende but the murder of thousands of other Chileans including my lover’s sister and her husband. I looked though a box of slides as I knew that I had a slide of a painting I was working on when the coup happened. Here is the story and and just one of the many reasons why I was appalled that folks I considered to be friends and comrades would ever sit down and break bread with one of the most horrible vile organizations on the face of the planet the CIA.

New York City 1973

It was 1973 in New York City when I did this painting. We were working in our studio down on Lafayette Street when we heard the news. Salvator Allende the president of Chile was dead and a coup d’état backed by the U.S. Government and the CIA had taken place.


Santiago Chile, 1973 Streets.

At this time I was working on a city street painting, you can still see parts of it peeping out from under the red. When we got the news I remember throwing the painting on the floor, pouring red paint and turning and turning the painting around. I smashed glass, cut my hair and all went on the surface of the painting. The red, the blood that ran in the streets. The blood that was shed in the stadium in the days following the coup. The blood of many. Thousands gone. My lover at that time was Miguel Carlos Gomez and he was from Santiago Chile. Miguel finally got word sometime after the coup that his sister and her husband were among the disappeared. Now it became very personal for us, it was not just some coup in another country a coup against our Socialist comrades but a direct hit against our family. His mother knew something was up when Catalina didn’t come to pick up the children after a sleepover at grandmas. She tried calling around but received no answer. The TV stations were off the air. Folks heard that that the military had stormed the university, the presidential palace was bombed, Allende was dead and a junta now replaced the president.  All that the people had hoped for was quickly vanishing. Night came and still no Catalina, no word from her husband Vincento.

How we cried. Our tears as we heard more and more turned to anger. Catalina and Vincento had spent the summer of the year before with us in New York.  Miguel wanted to go back to Chile and search for them but cooler heads among our circle prevailed and he stayed in the city. Everyday was more and more anguish as word came out of Chile about what was happening. Was my sister dropped into the ocean from an airplane? We had heard the rumors. Was she brought to the stadium along with her husband to meet certain death? Did she escape and go into hiding? Where is my sister? Deep down we knew, as Communists they were both dead but we didn’t want to believe it.  I will never forget those days and I will never forgive the government of Nixon, Kissinger the CIA and never will I cozy up to, support or break bread with the likes of the CIA or the people that hold empowerment workshops with them.

I have no idea what happened to the painting. It was included in a artist protest show against the CIA and the Coup in Chile in 1974. Miguel  and I broke up in 1975 and he was going to make his way home to his mother at least that is what he hoped to do. I left for the West Coast. Most of our things were given away and I think that the painting might have ended up in at my parents home among some items that I sent there for safe keeping while I traveled. Heavens only knows what became of the painting after they moved.  But someone knows I am sure what happened to Catalina, Vincento and thousands and thousands of others.


Minnie Coe, she is a sister of Alice as you may know, sent us a request that we republish a work that she has enjoyed over the years. We said “oh, okay, why not,” we like Minnie, Alice, Mary and Jake friends of ours since the early days when we all ran around Goon City as hippie artists. We looked through our works that she suggested and hit on one that when first published by Queerartist that everyone enjoyed when it was first published.

Here is one of our favorites. Minnie will remember feeding apples to old man Nichole’s cows, teasing the cow with more and running so it would chase us . We hid up a tree until the cow left and then beat it home.

Don’t eat this cow! Save this pancake!

These are the end times and all sorts of end times signs and symbols are popping up. A week or so ago the Virgin Mary was spotted in a Thanksgiving morning pancake, she was seen a month ago in a tree, and then appeared in a fried egg. That gal sure likes to travel. Of course Jesus gets into the act every once in a while and appears in all sorts of odd places. The best was on the screen door. My poor grandmother had just come into the kitchen and low and behold there he was staring back at her. At first she thought it was a hobo who had come up from the railroad track and wanted something to eat, but no she said I have seen that face before staring back at me from the altar of the Swedish church. THATS!!! JESUS! Everyone thought she was crazy except old Ben Jones who bought the screen door from her and put it in his Miracle Museum. Ben charged just a quarter to come in and see some of his miracle collection. Now old Ben Jones has gone on to his great reward, his museum is closed and the items he spent a life time collecting are scattered hither and yon.

Now I don’t know who this is but someone told me its Michael Jackson not the Virgin Mary.

A most blessed event. Someone is watching.

Word was in yesterday that a divine miracle has happened on a farm here in North East. A calf has been born with the sign of the cross on his forehead. Already thousands are making a pilgrimage to the farm to see what wondrous signs have come down from on high. Nobody knows what it all means but by god it must mean something.  I don’t want to make too much fun of this just in case there are any divine creatures flying around out there looking for something to smitten. Not me I will stay a mile away. So enjoy the video of this little Holy Cow. Born a few weeks before Christmas and celebrated as a miracle to some and to others just another cow born on another day, in another week.  Moo Moo Moo.

A cross on the forehead of Moses the calf.


You remember from our other stories that Arvey Jones as a young man fled his home in Good City with only the shirt on his back, nothing in his pockets except a comb, heading for New York, New York. If you don’t remember the story you can make one up as you go along. Here is Arvey’s recollections of a coffee pot, the one in the photo, that he has been carrying around in all of the travels and settling in over the course of the last 50 some years.

Coffee Pot view with handle.

It was a sunny Saturday, the kind of day that everyone enjoys except for those who like it blasting cold with snow swirling or raining. Yes, I do know there are folks who like such things and I am one of them who likes all things. Never has the weather made me mad, or to cry out loud, “This fucking weather is going to fuck up my plans.” No what ever the weather the weather may be if its good enough for Mother Nature then its good enough for me. I was walking down on the Bowery, the old Bowery not the superficial one that is the Bowery now. The real deal Bowery of flop houses, cheap bars, panhandlers, A.I.Residence, junk shops, cheap clothing stores, used restaurant equipment, and down and out folks all over the place. Gerry warned me, “Stay a night in one of those hotels and get bugs like you wouldn’t believe.”  There was a junk store or a “we got a bit of everything” type of a place that I loved to poke around in and see what I could find. The owner, a delightful older Jewish man took to me right away and we had many a good talks when ever I was around. Well I spied what was to become my coffee pot for many a years after that. If not traveling to my new destination then packed away in my old trunk, stored in someone’s home until I could come back and retrieve it. Coffee pot 5 cents, couldn’t go wrong. A drip coffee maker that Carl told me was a French Drip Coffee Pot and that it made some very good coffee. Some of the best. Here look I have the same type in my back room. Sit down awhile and I will make us a cup of coffee. Carl’s brother ran a business out of the West Village, a work ready place where assignments would come in and he found the people to fill it. He got me the job that I had at the time. He told me about Carl’s store and said I should stop by there as he had good things cheap. Not in it for the money but for something to do. When the going got tough for some folks they knew that if they had something to sell go and see Carl. He was fair and would throw in a couple of extra dollars just because. One thing he wouldn’t deal with was the junkies. I can spot them a mile away and don’t want any of their stolen property. They want to get sober, well I know folks who would help them. But if not stay away.

Coffee all made I have to admit it was some of the best coffee that I had ever drank. So began my love affair with my French Drip Coffee pot. You know I think that if I had one bag to bring on my journeys I would leave out a change of socks, underwear, or any thing else just so my coffee pot would fit. It was my security blanket, a reminder of my home, a token of closeness. This coffee pot has traveled to San Francisco and back to NYC. The pot traveled through all the states in the middle of America. In a suitcase to Sterling City, California and a small steamer trunk to Davenport Iowa. It was in my trunk when I moved to Woodstock New York and came here in the same trunk when I moved to Hartford in 1978.

Coffee Pot view with spout.

I will never forget the afternoon that I couldn’t find my coffee pot. Where, oh where, was it? I searched and searched. I even went out to the dumpster pulled out the bag of trash that I had put in and searched. I finally gave up and said, It must have vanished in thin air or I have a little elf in the house playing tricks on me. I looked at my cat Sammy, “Sammy did you see my coffee pot?” and he meowed back. Well later in the day I went into the refrigerator to get some juice and there I spied it. In a real lapsed I had put the coffee put behind the milk and the juice. “Alleluia,”  I yelled and they heard me the other side of town. Sammy cat came into the kitchen to see what was going on.  Well I went about making a nice cup of coffee so happy that I had found my coffee pot.

I gave up coffee and my French Drip Coffee pot around 20 years ago. At that time there was a scare about using aluminum cooking utensils. But I hung on to the coffee pot. It resurfaced again when I was packing to move. I had placed it in a large kettle stored with a box of candles, wooden matches, and small cooking pans. There in the emergency kettle was my dear old coffee pot. The items were suppose to be used if the lights went out and we needed to cook on a steno burner.  I thought to myself, “How foolish you would never be able to heat up enough boiling water to use in the pot.” So guess what ? I am going to turn it into a work of art. Yeah, Yeah, art.  Now I can’t promise that I will have a show, put the coffee pot in it and make coffee as I would not want to be accused of helping anyone’s diseases along the way. I am sure we all got something brewing in us and of course its not from one cup of coffee from a aluminum drip coffee pot, but you know how it is now-a-days. Everyone knows everything, some know something, there are jack of all trades running around, and a bunch of goof balls in change of the United States. I once knew a anarchist woman who thought a beautiful bouquet of flowers was disgusting because the vase had come from Walmart. Honey get out of the way, you are not going to make any change that way.

So enjoy my photos of the coffee pot and my little recollections. I know just the artist that may want it for one of his terrific installations. I will ask him or maybe leave it on his door step. On the door step would better but I’m not sure where he lives.

Many thanks to Arvey Jones for this first person account of his French Drip Coffee Pot.



Meet Ruthie Hillard

Posted: July 18, 2017 in a story, art

Meet Ruthie Hillard was first published on Queerartist blog. Queerartist knew Ruthie Hillard growing up in Goon City.  Ruthie would always show with the young artists in town whenever there was a art exhibition. We asked Queerartist if we could re-publish this piece as Ruthie has a lot to say not only about art but about politics too.

Scrap Work, 2002

by Ruthie Hillard

Ruthie Hillard always had scraps lying around. Scraps of this and scraps of that. In Ruthie’s house there was a large room. On one end of the room was a large bay area with many windows. It was there that she had set up 3 old dining room tables. Ruthie never told us where she ever got so many dining room tables as in her dining room she had a nice oak one that matched her china closet and sideboard. Ruthie liked to walk and in her walks she picked up scraps. A scrap of paper, a piece of string, a piece of metal that had fallen off a car. She pulled a shopping cart with a few boxes in it. One for paper, one for metal, one for odd bits of this and that. Of course everyone thought her to be a bit off and according to Ruthie she was of course. Not like them at all. Won’t want to be. So sterile, so fit in the box,  so wonder bread. Little Boxes, Little Boxes the song was written for them. Straight out of the boob tube.

When Ruthie got home after a day of collecting supplies, she would wash her hands, make herself a nice cup of tea, and get to work.  Scrap work is a piece that she gave to my cousin with the instructions to give it to me. She was always working at making her art. I went down to Goon City and asked her, “Ruthie, can I give you a show on my blog?” Well at 88 she really didn’t know what a blog was confusing it with a bog as she was a bit hard of hearing. After explaining to her what a blog was she consented. I went out for a walk around Goon City with Ruthie and she showed me some areas that she thought highly of. “By all means take a picture and put it on your bog.” (she never got it) “These things are as much my art as the things I make in my sun room.” See that window there? If nothing else put that on your bog. So we did put a few of these things on this “bog.” Things that Ruthie pointed out and that I must admit were quite interesting.

A Window That I Admire.

We clapped for this art. It is called Bird King.



Ruthie and I have no idea what this picture was. But both thought it to be very beautiful and well worth it to include it in this posting. I told Ruthie that I think the photograph was taken when the camera was in the pocket of my coat, I slipped my hand in and my hand hit the picture button. We both loved that idea and I promised I would take some more pictures of inside my pocket for a later posting.

Got Something In My Pocket, art.

Last but not least this is a photo from our walk. It is of Jake’s Corner Store. You see posted on the door Jake is holding a sale of big hair. Come on in. Get your big hair. Soon Halloween will be here and big hair is nice to wear. Stick some birds in it. Maybe some flowers. Add some rubber snakes. Just wear some big hair and everyone will think that you are a star of something.

Ruthie wanted some of her out door work to be shown in this exhibition. She choose one that was done near the pond. At one time Boyce Hubbard had a cabin in the area. He worked for Ruthie’s father doing all sorts of work. The cabin burned down years ago but in digging around one could find broken dishes bottles, glass and all sorts of other things.  Ruthie mapped out the area and said, “anything that I find in this area will be my art supplies for the day.” Ruthie worked for a short time on Monday morning and then took a break and ate her tuna fish sandwich, and drank her bottle of apple juice. She always drank apple juice when out and about as she was afraid if she started on a bottle of wine that she wouldn’t make it home. That happened more than once and many times she woke up under the trees. Ruthie didn’t recall the date that she made these pieces but thinks it might have been sometime in the early 1970s.

Art out doors from Ruthie’s photo album

I asked Ruthie how could she just make some art and leave it out near the pond where probably the kids would wreck it if they came around. Ruthie didn’t seem at all concerned about that. “Well I do hope that they for a few seconds can stop and say, “what the hell is this stuff, and how did it get out here by the pond?” She only worked an area once and that was it. Didn’t even stop to take a look when she passed by the pond, on her way through the pine tree forest to the other side of town or on her way to visit Bessy Bates. One day in the Pine Tree Forest she found a dead black bird, dug a hole, buried it and sang a little song. Ruthie is like that, always mindful of other beings. You know I like the idea of bringing the “whats underground out and into the open, like some dig in ancient lands. My grandfather use to dig down by the river and had an amazing collection of arrow heads, stone tools and other artifacts. When Great Grandfather Bates was alive he could identify each and every thing that my grandfather found. The decision was made to give the whole collection to the historical society and the Bates wrote information about the Wongunks the tribe they belonged to for that section of Goon City history.

This is one of Ruthie’s String Works. She didn’t want any other pictures taken of the other string works in her studio as in her words, “there’s not one in the bunch that I give one rats ass for.” I am not very good at working in string but you can include one just so the viewers will know what I have tried string and couldn’t make a go of it. You know I use to take a good hard look at the cord attached to the vacuum cleaner and I tossed it from here and there. I liked the lines on the floor. I also liked the idea of what the vacuum was picking up as the whole part of this cord art. I tried this art years ago gee maybe around 1969 or so. Gave it up and hope someone else takes it up. I figure its drawing, sound art and disappearance art all in one. Sort of the opposite of painting, where one takes a nice fresh white canvass and mucks it up with paint. Here we take a dirty area and clean it up with the vacuum. Here today gone tomorrow. That’s a good motto.

The first collage is an untitled piece or just say “I have forgotten what it is called.” The collage on the bottom is of the famous accordion player Pauline Oliveros when she was in concert in Hartford Connecticut. Ms. Oliveros was on her back with a leg up playing the accordion. Pauline Oliveros was one of my favorite composers and I was delighted to have met her. In 1984 I went up to Hartford with Janet Owens and stayed for a week to attend the NEW Music America Festival. Pauline played there along with some of the greats in new music. What a week that was.  I will never forget at Center Church, Glenn Branca was playing.  The audience members were offered ear plugs as Glenn’s music was LOUD!! Well I said to the women passing out the plugs how in the world can I hear the music with these in my ears. “Oh, she said, just a warning you may need to tone it down.”  “Well,” said Ruthie, “I got eight fingers and two thumbs if I need to do that.” Sort of defeats the purpose of Glenn’s work. Its a wonder the alter didn’t fall down or Jesus off the cross. Maybe we should move to the back, near the door just in case the rafters start creaking and the whole damn place comes tumbling down like the walls of Jericho.  You know what, get a copy of some of his music and take a listen. Well I took Ruthie’s advise and decided that we should post a you tube video of Glenn’s work.

One of my all time favorites has always been Skip La Plante with his music for Homemade Instruments. Musical instruments made from trash. Skip said to the crowd that gathered and I remember his words well when I think about art, “Every object in the world is a potential musical instrument. Every sound in the world is one you can choose to use however you want to.”

Pauline Oliveros New Music America Collage, 1984

2 Tapings

Ruthie used a lot of tape. So much at one time in her collage making that Mr. Sweeny at Sweeny’s Hardware Store asked her if she had stock in any tape companies.

Collage works

The next work is called Landscape, Stripes falling in from the right. Ruthie says these were done when she was much younger probably around age 77. She keeps them wrapped up in the hall closet some of the few pictures that she has bothered keeping. Why keep them? All of them. My god I would have to move out of here and live out the a tent if I keep all of the art I make.  Throw it away, I can always make more. That’s the beauty of it. There is always more to come out. I don’t know why I kept these two all these years.

Untitled , Forsythia branches in a tub.  2009

It doesn’t matter if the branches are the type that will flower after being brought in the house or if they do not. I like to put water in the tub and float anything. Branches are the best. With 3 bathrooms in this house I have my pick. You know here is a funny story. My mother, god rest her soul had her bathroom done over, maybe around 1962 or so. She had all pink fixtures put in. A pink toilet, pink sink, (like the rhyme), and pink bath tub. It was her pink room. My aunt when she came to visit saw the bathroom and loudly exclaimed, “Pink, pink, you stink,” upon entering the room. That was her take on the pink bathroom room.  The photo below is a good take on the pink bathroom. You know one idea pushes another, maybe I will find some of those pink flowering branches and stick them in the pink tub and after the flower decorate that bathroom with them. Maybe.

Anyway this photo was taken in the downstairs bathroom where everything is white. I never use the pink bathroom but if you like you can take a look. Up the stairs to the left and down the hall, third door on the right. If you have to let one go do it in there in honor of my aunt.

Sticks in tub.

How about a little story with this art? (more…)