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 2022-12-07
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

BOOKS/ART Local man releases sketches by famous artist uncle
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2020-11-19

This article shared 3033 times since Thu Nov 19, 2020
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Cuban American painter Gustavo Ojeda (1958—89) is best known for lush and meditative urban nightscapes that brought him recognition in the 1980s downtown New York art scene. He exhibited works alongside artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring and David Wojnarowicz before dying from AIDS-related complications in 1989—just two weeks shy of his thirty-first birthday.

Now, Ojeda's nephew Gabriel Ojeda-Sague (a Chicago resident) and Erich Kessel Jr., are co-editors of An Excess of Quiet: Selected Sketches by Gustavo Ojeda, 1979—1989, which (re)acquaints people with more than 200 of Ojeda's sketches.

Windy City Times: You have an interesting background: You're currently at the University of Chicago and you've written about Cher, pornography and even jazzercise. [Ojeda-Sague laughs.] What compelled you to tackle the works of your uncle?

Gabriel Ojeda-Sague: It all feels outside of the [usual] stuff I do, like poetry. I always grew up with my uncle's works around me. There's this interesting situation where a lot of his work fell out of circulation after his death; his works ended up in family members' houses but not in places like museums, so I was immersed in his work.

As I got older, I got more and more interested about why his work fell out of circulation and what it would take to bring it back into circulation. My uncle's longtime partner was Lester Edelstein—who I also considered my uncle. Lester died in 2016 and left Gustavo's sketchbooks and paintings to my brother and myself. At this point, I knew that I really wanted to do something. I'm not [well-]versed in the world of art, but I am in the world of books—so I wondered how I could bring Gustavo's works back into circulation.

Around 2015, Lester introduced me to the sketchbooks. He didn't think they were very special, but I was so impressed by what was in them. The paintings were very impressionistic landscapes of New York City, but the sketches were these decontexualized, haunting faces of people on public transport. So then it became a major project for me.

WCT: I get the title [which comes from how critics viewed Ojeda's works]. There is a sense of quiet in his works.

GO-S: Yes. The title was never something he used about his works but, for me, there's something quiet—but there's something more than quiet. It was said that there's almost an energy moving beneath the painting—even when it seems like there's not a lot going on. I was using the phrase "an excess of quiet" to describe his works, so I thought that'd make a great title. [Laughs]

WCT: There's something you wrote in the intro that resonated with me: "Growing up near his paintings, I felt that they had something charging beneath them."

GO-S: Yeah. When I was a kind, I saw the kids as almost spooky; there was something imposing about the nightscapes. I saw them as spooky yet calming. They had a real presence that almost seemed a non-presence. It was like something that initially seems simple but is more complex the more you look at it.

I also realized what was making him quite a popular artist at this time. One of the paradoxes about him is that he was a big artist in the '80s New York art scene but most of the other artists were more pop art, like Warhol and Basquiat and Haring. Gustavo's works look more traditional at first, but there's something beyond those traditional impressionist works. When you look at these sketches together, there's something meditative and unsettling at the same time. It looks impressive how the drawings bleed across the pages.

WCT: The sketches span 1979 to 1989. Do you see a progression or evolution in the sketches from the beginning to the end of the decade?

GO-S: Sure. I would not say it's exactly a clean arc, but there's some obsession and it becomes more refined. The works are not arranged chronologically and the dates are not given to the reader, but I can say that the works from '79 to '81 [feature] Spanish parks and traditional figure drawings, like nudes. Once he comes back to New York, he became more interested in the urban landscape. His most productive year was probably 1984, when he was making the nightscapes that would make him famous. But during the mid-'80s, he's also doing all of these facial sketches. It's funny that they both happen at the same time, as the nightscapes don't feature people.

Once we cross the mid-'80s, he developed his style a bit more but stays with relative themes. However, the drawings get a little less simple. A friend of his told me that what Gustavo would not look at his subjects on public transport because he didn't want them to know he was drawing them, so he would just look out and they were done quickly.

He got sick in 1987 and his productivity lowered significantly, and he passed away in 1989. It's unclear to me where his work would have gone if he had lived longer, but I can tell you that his paintings moved to daytime urban landscapes. What I like about this book is that some of the sketches are really technically impressive—and others are not.

I also wanted to keep in how much erasing there was with the sketches—the screw-ups and do-overs. With some, you can see extra lines and blurring. One of the things Soberscove [Press] did well was that it really shows the extra marks; that was a way of [conveying] a tactile sense of the works to the reader.

WCT: You mentioned contemporaries such as Basquiat and Haring. Do you feel that your uncle—with all his talent—was underappreciated?

GO-S: During his time, I don't think he was underappreciated. He was never a celebrity artist, like Haring or Basquiat. When [Ojeda] died, my grandparents—Cuban exiles who don't speak English—took over, in a sense, and they weren't able to keep up with bringing his work out into the world. Gustavo was very productive and very charming; once he and his friends died, there was a real loss of the foundation of what kept his work going—and my family was not able (or possibly willing) to keep up things. Lester archived Gustavo's works and there were a couple well-received retrospectives. I think Gustavo's works fell out of renown.

So Gustavo wasn't underappreciated at the time [when he was alive] but he was kind of an odd figure. He had a very successful career. I'm trying to bring some attention to his works because I feel they still offer a lot—and there's a lot that people haven't seen.

WCT: Ultimately, what would you like people to take away from this book?

GO-S: Good question… I think what I'm trying to do is show people a really tender but yet obsessive practice that artists had during this time. It was private and personal, but I'm trying to bring out [Gustavo's] image and renown.


This article shared 3033 times since Thu Nov 19, 2020
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

ELECTIONS 2023: Incumbent 49th Ward Ald. Maria Hadden talks accomplishments, second term goals
2023-02-01
ELECTIONS 2023: Incumbent 49th Ward Ald. Maria Hadden discusses accomplishments, second term goals By Carrie Maxwell This is part of a series of interviews Windy City Times is running on LGBTQ+ candidates in the 2023 municipal ...


Gay News

THEATER REVIEW Andy Warhol in Iran juggles art, celebrity and geopolitics
2023-02-01
Andy Warhol in Iran. Playwright: Brent Askari At: Northlight Theatre at North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie Tickets: 847-673-6300 or www.Northlight.org; $30-$89. Runs through Feb. 19 The prolific 20th century gay ...


Gay News

ELECTIONS 2023: 49th Ward challenger Belia Rodriguez on why running, differences from incumbent
2023-02-01
This is part of a series of interviews Windy City Times is running on LGBTQ+ candidates in the 2023 municipal elections taking place Feb. 28. Belia Rodriguez is a lifelong Chicagoan who attended Chicago Public Schools. ...


Gay News

ELECTIONS 2023 Lamont Robinson talks political switch, guns, LGBTQ+ issues
2023-01-30
This is part of a series of interviews Windy City Times is running on LGBTQ+ candidates in the 2023 municipal elections taking place Feb. 28. When it comes to politics, Lamont Robinson has, for several years, ...


Gay News

ELECTIONS 2023: Candidate Larry Svabek describes his vision for the 48th Ward
2023-01-30
This is part of a series of interviews Windy City Times is running on LGBTQ+ candidates in the 2023 municipal elections taking place Feb. 28. Twenty-nine year old Larry Svabek has been an instructor, lecturer and ...


Gay News

ELECTIONS 2023 Jessie Fuentes: 26th Ward candidate talks mental health, LGBTQ+ Chicagoans
2023-01-30
This is part of a series of interviews Windy City Times is running on LGBTQ+ candidates in the 2023 municipal elections taking place Feb. 28. The 2023 race to represent Chicago's 26th Ward—which includes parts of ...


Gay News

ELECTIONS 2023: Incumbent 35th Ward Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa seeks third term, talks accomplishments
2023-01-30
This is part of a series of interviews Windy City Times is running on LGBTQ+ candidates in the 2023 municipal elections taking place Feb. 28. A life-long Chicagoan, Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th Ward) is running unopposed ...


Gay News

Billy Masters: Harry Styles' Pleather pants parting, and all the dish you need
2023-01-30
"I will always love Pamela, always in my heart. I left her $10 million in my will. And she doesn't even know that. Nobody knows that." —Jon Peters reveals his bequest to ex-wife Pamela Anderson. Pam ...


Gay News

ELECTIONS 2023 Raymond Lopez on running for alderman, endorsing Willie Wilson
2023-01-29
This is part of a series of interviews Windy City Times is running on LGBTQ+ candidates in the 2023 municipal elections taking place Feb. 28. The last time Chicago Ald. Raymond Lopez talked with Windy City ...


Gay News

Windy City Gay Chorus, Windy City Treble Quire begin search for artistic directors
2023-01-17
--From a press release - The Board of Directors for Windy City Performing Arts has started their search for two Artistic Directors for the organization's choruses. Applications are now being accepted in hopes to fill these positions prior to the 2023-2024 season. ...


Gay News

Early voting in downtown Chicago to start Thursday, January 26
2023-01-17
--From a press release - CHICAGO, IL — Early voting in Downtown Chicago for the February 28, 2023 Municipal Election will start at two vote centers — the Voter Supersite at 191 N. Clark and Board Offices at 69 W. Washington, ...


Gay News

WORLD Indian marches, delegation in Cuba, anti-LGBTQ+ investigation
2023-01-15
Hundreds of people took part in the first Delhi Queer Pride march in three years as pressure grows for legal recognition of same-sex marriage in India, The Manila Times noted. In March, the South Asian's top ...


Gay News

Chicago Red Stars select four players in 2023 NWSL Draft
2023-01-13
From a press release - CHICAGO—The Chicago Red Stars took part in the 2023 National Women's Soccer League Draft, tonight, selecting Penelope Hocking from Penn State University with their first-round pick (seventh overall). In ...


Gay News

Black LGBTQ+ film festival among Chicago NEA grant recipients
2023-01-11
The Black Alphabet Film Festival—the world's oldest Black LGBTQ+-focused event of its kind—was part of the first round of grant recipients from the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA), receiving $20,000. In a press release, Black ...


Gay News

The First Homosexuals extended at Wrightwood 659 by popular demand
2023-01-01
-- From a press release - (CHICAGO, IL — Dec. 1, 2022) It was announced today that the crowd-pleasing pair of exhibitions currently selling out at Wrightwood 659 will extend into the new year, now closing Saturday, January 28, 2023. The two ...


 




Copyright © 2023 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


 



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.