Bronx Museum Exhibits the Photos of Alvin Baltrop, Who Spent Years Documenting New York City’s Underground Gay Community

Alvin Baltrop, Untitled (Portrait of Marsha P. Johnson)
Alvin Baltrop, Untitled (Portrait of Marsha P. Johnson)
Bronx Museum

The name Alvin Baltrop probably doesn’t ring a bell, but an exhibition at The Bronx Museum of the Arts hopes to change that. The exhibit, “The Life and Times of Alvin Baltrop,” displays more than 200 photographs that Baltrop snapped between 1975 and 1986.

Baltrop started photography as a teen, and while he was in the Navy during Vietnam, he photographed his sailor friends doing fun things like sticking their tongues out. The Bronx-born artist then returned to New York and received an education from New York City’s School of Visual Arts, graduating in 1975. When the West Side Elevated Highway collapsed in 1973, a section of the West Side piers, near the Hudson River, became a fertile ground for gay culture and experimental artists. Baltrop photographed people sunbathing on the pier and in the midst of sexual acts; homeless people in dilapidated warehouses; and crime scenes. He also snapped a black-and-white portrait of transgender Stonewall Riots activist Marsha P. Johnson, which is part of the exhibit.

“Like the startling images of Peter Moore, Robert Mapplethorpe, Peter Hujar, and Gordon Matta-Clark, the photographs of Alvin Baltrop memorialize New York City at a breaking-point moment amid ruin and chaos,” the press release reads. (The Mapplethorpe Foundation, Inc. supported the exhibition.) The Bronx Museum pulled the photos from their permanent collection, from private collections, and from Baltrop’s personal archive—the first time those prints have been shown to the public.

Baltrop’s work arrived at a time when the LGBTQ community struggled with AIDS and civil rights, and Baltrop did his part in infusing his subjects with humanity. Before his untimely death from cancer in 2004, Baltrop hadn’t received much recognition and had only put on a few exhibitions, including one held in a gay nightclub. In conjunction with the exhibition, which runs until February 9, 2020, museum-goers can pick up a 200-page catalog of his works from the Bronx Museum Store.

Alvin Baltrop, Pier 52 (Gordon Matta-Clark's "Day's End"), 1975–1986
Alvin Baltrop, Pier 52 (Gordon Matta-Clark's "Day's End"), 1975–1986, Silver gelatin print, Bronx Museum of the Arts Permanent Collection.
Bronx Museum of the Arts

Alvin Baltrop, Pier 52 (Gordon Matta-Clark's "Day's End"), 1975–1986.
Alvin Baltrop, Pier 52 (Gordon Matta-Clark's "Day's End"), 1975–1986, Silver gelatin print
Bronx Museum of the Arts Permanent Collection

Rotting Fruit—Made of Glass—Is the Focus of a New Exhibition at Harvard

Strawberry with Penicillium sp. mold, Rudolf Blaschka, 1929
Strawberry with Penicillium sp. mold, Rudolf Blaschka, 1929
Jennifer Berglund © 2019 President and Fellows of Harvard College

A fuzzy blue strawberry, a pear mottled with unseemly blotches—rotting fruit is not normally thought of as beautiful. But just like the trees, flowers, and more attractive crops often featured in artwork, fruits dying on the branch are a normal part of nature. By spotlighting the summer fruits that never make it to market, the Harvard Museum of Natural History is calling on people to examine them in a different light.

The new exhibit, “Fruits in Decay," consists of astonishingly realistic glass models of apricots, plums, and other fruits in various stages of rot. Each intricate sculpture showcases the effects of a real-life agricultural disease. One branch is depicted with peach leaf curl, a disease caused by the fungus Taphrina deformans, and a pear bears the telltale dark spots of pear scab. There are more than 20 glass items on display.


Pear with pear scab, Rudolf Blaschka, 1929
Jennifer Berglund © 2019 President and Fellows of Harvard College

“Fruits in Decay" is the new focus of the Harvard Museum's famous "Glass Flowers" gallery. Every piece in the glass collection was crafted by either Leopold or Rudolf Blaschka, a Czech father-son team descended from a line of glassblowers stretching back to the 15th century. Active in the 19th and 20th centuries, they were known for creating realistic glass models of scientific specimens, 4300 of which are housed at Harvard today. The rotten fruit models were sculpted by Rudolf Blaschka between the years 1924 and 1932, at the end of his career.

“Rudolf Blaschka’s last work centered on the creation of these models of diseased fruits," Donald H. Pfister, curator of the Farlow Library and Herbarium of Cryptogamic Botany, said in statement. "They are the culmination of his lifelong attention to accuracy and innovation. They illustrate the effects of fungi as agents of disease in plants and point to their importance in agricultural systems.”

“Fruits in Decay" is open now at the Harvard Museum of Natural History and will be on view through March 1, 2020.

Branch with peach leaf curl, Model 798, Rudolf Blaschka, 1929
Branch with peach leaf curl, Rudolf Blaschka, 1929
Jennifer Berglund © 2019 President and Fellows of Harvard College

Collection of Star Wars-Inspired Insect Art Is Coming to Los Angeles Gallery

Richard Wilkinson
Richard Wilkinson

The Star Wars universe is known for its larger-than-life spaceships, weapons, and characters. For his new gallery exhibition, "Arthropoda Iconicus," artist Richard Wilkinson decided to take a different approach. As Gizmodo reports, he has reimagined pieces of Star Wars iconography as new species of insects.

The creepy collection goes on display at the Hero Complex Gallery in Los Angeles on September 6. At first glance, the bugs look like specimens you'd find at a natural history museum. But pop culture connoisseurs will recognize that each critter is inspired by something from a movie, television show, video game, comic book, or even a popular product or brand.

The Star Wars-inspired insects are the stars of the show. R2-D2 has been reinterpreted as a beetle dubbed Robodoubus deoduoubus, and Yoda appears as Dominos magister. C-3PO, a stormtrooper, and Darth Vader are all represented, too.

R2-D2 beetle.
Richard Wilkinson

C3PO bug.
Richard Wilkinson

Yoda insect.
Richard Wilkinson

Stormtrooper as bug.
Richard Wilkinson

Book of Star Wars icons as bugs.
Richard Wilkinson

Many of the works on display are taken from Wilkinson's book Arthropoda Iconicus Volume I: Insects From A Far Away Galaxy. All 148 pieces in the exhibit will be available to purchase for $20 as 8-inch-by-10-inch prints when the show opens Friday. The art will also sold through Hero Complex's website starting at 11:00 a.m. PST on September 7.

[h/t Gizmodo]

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