Windy City Media Group Frontpage News

THE VOICE OF CHICAGO'S GAY, LESBIAN, BI, TRANS AND QUEER COMMUNITY SINCE 1985

home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2022-03-16
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

ART Mike Burton offers unique voice with gay porn thumbnails
by Tim Peacock
2019-10-30

This article shared 3628 times since Wed Oct 30, 2019
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


While most artwork has a deeper meaning, Mike Burton's work offers a unique voice distinct in the Chicago LGBTQ community.

A transplant from Wadsworth, Ohio, the 28-year-old Burton moved to Chicago two years ago to fully devote his time and energy to art. He moved here on the cusp of coming out—something that also heavily influences his work.

"Chicago changed my life completely," he told Windy City Times in a recent interview.

When he first moved here, Burton struggled quite a bit. He sold most of his belongings before leaving Ohio and slept on air mattresses after arriving. He didn't cook, so he lived off peanut butter and jelly sandwiches while working a minimum wage restaurant job. All the while, he worked at bettering himself as an artist.

Burton's primary medium is drawing. Specifically, he sketches ( and occasionally fully illustrates ) gay pornographic thumbnail images.

Part of the allure of sketching the thumbnails lies in Burton's late coming out. Discussing his coming out experience, Burton said he didn't "quite understand the rules that came before, and all of the trials and tribulations." He added, "I never got bullied for being gay. It felt like I got to slide in under the radar."

But that came at a price.

"[I] just got to be miserable by myself and have this huge plight of 'I can't be gay, I can't do it!' and realize years later that I only distanced myself from other people because I didn't want to face the facts."

Burton began sketching porn thumbnails after moving out of his family home at 19, but didn't sketch gay porn thumbnails until he arrived in Chicago. Part of the exhilaration and catharsis of the change helped Burton overcome anxiety about his sexuality. Burton calls it a "therapeutic exercise."

Burton's affinity for sketching gay porn thumbnails doesn't lie exclusively in its therapeutic value. Describing how it feels to scroll through a porn site as a gay man, he explained that thumbnails offer an abstract view of a larger story—something a viewer can make a wide range of interpretations about.

"When you look at a pornographic website and there's fifteen to twenty thumbnails, those tell a complete story," Burton said. "If they're sitting in a chair, doing something crazy, in a pool, in a suit. ... You already kind of know what's happening because of how many times you've seen thumbnails."

"That's what I think draws me to it," Burton added.

Burton prefers self-shot porn because it closely resembles something else his work offers commentary on: app-based hook-up culture. Both offer a realistic view into the sex lives of others. It explores concepts of shame, sexuality and ultimately acceptance.

While unique, Burton's art has also seen roadblocks in how and where he can showcase his work.

"[When] someone's like, 'cool, you're an artist, let me see some of your stuff!' I pull up my Instagram and have to give them a warning—it's going to be pornographic."

While most people have had positive reactions, Burton explained stigma still exists—especially around gay men having sex.

"If I was just painting a bunch of naked women, people would be like, 'this is awesome.'" But because his artwork features gay men—often in sexual situations—he receives pushback.

"I've been turned down from places to enlarge pieces," Burton explained, noting they specifically cite his work's content. He's also been turned away by traditional spaces that exhibit artwork as well.

"I couldn't show all of this stuff in a gallery," he said. "I have to show it at a gay bar."

In fact, Burton did recently showcase his work at SoFo Tap in Andersonville. By the time his show closed, Burton sold more than half of the pieces he had on display.

When he isn't working on new pieces for display in future shows, Burton hones his art through street art. Using discarded cardboard and furniture in alleys, Burton flexes his artistic muscle through sketches, paint and poetry—some of which he photographs and posts on his Instagram page.

Anything can be art for him—discarded mattresses, furniture, wood, cardboard, etc. "I can make something there for free and no one has to think about if it's sell-able or if it's great. It's just this temporary thing I get to do as practice for larger pieces," Burton explained.

As he works toward larger pieces and future shows, Burton said he is confident he wants to stay the course in drawing gay porn thumbnails.

"I like the medium because it's appealing to me," he said. "I definitely want to take it further and go more abstract. Bigger, stranger, but in the same field."

Offering a reflection on his recent show and the reception he's received about his work, Burton noted. "I feel like this was a therapy lesson for me. This was me coming out as an artist, and coming out as a queer person at the same time."

For more about Burton, visit TheCheapSoap.com or follow him on Instagram @thecheapsoap.


This article shared 3628 times since Wed Oct 30, 2019
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

'Community Parades and Activism: LGBTQ Claiming its Space' on June 4 2022-05-26
- The discussion-centered event "Community Parades and Activism: LGBTQ Claiming its Space" will take place Saturday, June 4, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Puerto Rican Arts Alliance, 3000 N. Elbridge Ave. An open discussion about LGBTQ/SGL activism ...


Gay News

Howard Brown Health unveils Pride mural at Walsh Park 2022-05-26
- On May 25, Howard Brown Health unveiled a mural celebrating Pride month, in collaboration with local artist David Anthony Geary. The unveiling took place at Walsh Park, 1722 N. Ashland Ave. Wintrust Bank's ongoing community partnership ...


Gay News

Artist Rick Sindt explores queer desire and pornography in 'Skin Remembers' 2022-05-25
- Rick Sindt, a Chicago-based artist who recently moved to St. Louis, explores the discovery and development of queer attraction in his exhibit "Skin Remembers." Sindt transforms pornographic stills, repurposing them into images of intimacy. Sindt recently ...


Gay News

'EMERGENCE: Intersections at the Center' exhibit highlights queer community art 2022-05-23
- South Side Community Art Center's (SSCAC) newest exhibition explores the center's role in uplifting and supporting a community of queer Black creators through a collection of their art from the 1940s through the 1980s. "Bringing black ...


Gay News

Quiz program 'Wait, Wait' to start taping June 16 at the Studebaker 2022-05-16
- Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!, NPR's weekly hour-long quiz program, will resume live audience recordings Thursday, June 16, in a new Chicago home: the historic Studebaker Theater at the Fine Arts Building, 401 S. Michigan Ave. ...


Gay News

BOOKS 'Tinderbox' author to appear in Palatine on June 14 2022-05-13
- Author Robert Fieseler will discuss his debut book—Tinderbox: The Untold Story of the Up Stairs Lounge Fire and the Rise of Gay Liberation—on Tuesday, June 14, at 7 p.m. at Palatine's Cutting Hall Performing Arts Center, ...


Gay News

57th Street Art Fair marking 75th anniversary on June 4-5 2022-05-12
- The 57th Street Art Fair, the Midwest's oldest juried art fair, will mark its 75th anniversary with an in-person celebration on June 4-5 featuring nearly 200 artists, live music presented by Buddy Guy's Legends, and a ...


Gay News

Chicago Gay Men's Chorus to present 'Unimaginable' on May 20-22 2022-05-11
- The Chicago Gay Men's Chorus will present the spring show "CGMC: Unimaginable," on May 20-22 at three Chicagoland venues. The performances will take place Friday, May 20, at 8 p.m. at Chicago's Athenaeum Center for Thought ...


Gay News

PrideArts to present cabaret nights in May and June 2022-04-27
-- From a press release - CHICAGO — PrideArts Artistic Director Jay Espano (he/him/his) today announced a series of four Monday night cabaret performances by Chicago area musical theater and cabaret artists at the Pride Arts ...


Gay News

The Other Art Fair returns to the Loop 2022-04-25
- The Other Art Fair returned to Chicago April 21-24 at Fulton Market, 1215 W. Fulton Market, for collectors, artists and art lovers with original works of art from more than 100 emerging artists. Just a few ...


Gay News

'It Was Vulgar and It Was Beautiful' explores art collective's part in HIV/AIDS activism 2022-04-23
- In Jack Lowery's book, It Was Vulgar and It Was Beautiful: How AIDS Activists Used Art to Fight a Pandemic, the historian shares how the art collective Gran Fury utilized community-made propaganda to address the HIV/AIDS ...


Gay News

Gay artist couple among Mayor's Medal of Honor recipients 2022-04-21
-- From a press release - CHICAGO—Today, Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot announced the winners of the 2022 Mayor's Medal of Honor. The Mayor's Medal of Honor is an annual award presented by the Mayor to honorees who have demonstrated a passionate commitment ...


Gay News

ONE Archives running exhibit of vintage LGBTQ+ activist posters 2022-04-21
- Los Angeles-based ONE Archives Foundation announced "Days of Rage, a web-based multimedia exhibit featuring newly digitized LGBTQ+ activist posters from the ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives at the USC Libraries. The exhibit, which has launched ...


Gay News

Chicago Circus & Performing Arts Festival on April 21-24 2022-04-20
- The multidisciplinary event Chicago Circus & Performing Arts Festival, produced by Yes Ma'am Circus, will run April 21-24 at The Den Theatre, 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave. Performances from 10 Chicago-based companies include traditional circus acts, avant-ga ...


Gay News

Gay Games 2023 announces updated sports list 2022-04-19
- Gay Games 11 Hong Kong announced an all-new line-up of 23 sports for the November 2023 Games—a global multisport, arts and culture event founded in 1982 that celebrates diversity and inclusion. Co-hosted with Guadalajara, Mexico, the ...


 



Copyright © 2022 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 
 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS







Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam     
Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.