Museum of New Mexico Media Center Press Release

Explore the profound impact of gay and lesbian artists in the Southwest

New Mexico Museum of Art

October 18, 2023


Surveying the work of gay and lesbian artists in the American Southwest from the early twentieth century through the Stonewall Riots of 1969, the latest exhibition from New Mexico Museum of Art opens November11, 2023, and runs through September 2, 2024.

Out West: Gay and Lesbian Artists in the Southwest 1900-1969 puts the focus on a time when the face of queer representation changed dramatically in the United States,” said Dr. Mark White Executive Director.

Out West explores the significant contributions gay and lesbian artists had in the American Southwest in the early twentieth century. While some artists built lives for themselves in states less welcoming to queer people, other areas, including northern New Mexico, promised freedom and a sense of community denied to them elsewhere. Queer communities played a significant role in developing the art communities throughout this region, although this influence is rarely acknowledged.

In his engaging memoir Unbuttoned: Gay Life in the Santa Fe Art Scene, Walter Cooper laments: “So much of our queer history has been swept under the rug, it’s almost as if we never existed. People tend to underrate or ignore ‘the queer factor,’ the enormous impact gay folk have made on New Mexico’s unique cultural life.”

“This is the first survey of the profound impact of gay and lesbian artists in the American Southwest during the first part of the 20th century,” said Christian Waguespack, Head of Curatorial Affairs and Curator of 20th Century Art. “The hope for this exhibition is that visitors leave with an understanding of the dramatic way early gay and lesbian artists shaped the cultural landscape of our region.”

Out West recognizes the contributions of gay and lesbian artists to the history of modern art in the Southwest. This exhibition will explore the influential careers of LGBTQ artists, including Cady Wells, Marsden Hartley, Russell Cheney, and Agnes Sims, and how their legacy remains a vital part of Southwestern cultural history.

About New Mexico Museum of Art    

New Mexico Museum of Art is a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs. Programs and exhibits are supported by the Museum of New Mexico Foundation and its donors. The mission of the Museum of Art is to create authentic experiences that foster a deeper understanding and enjoyment of art throughout our state. With a collection of more than 20,000 pieces of work, the museum brings the art of the world to New Mexico and the art of New Mexico to the world.    

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