Issue:  Vol. 47 / No. 29 / 20 July 2017

Hello, Spaceman!

Out There

"11 h am" by Philippe Bertho, acrylic on canvas. Now on view at Martin Lawrence Galleries, San Francisco, through July 28. Photo: Courtesy Martin Lawrence Galleries
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Out There was invited to a reception for American astronaut and U.S. naval aviator Mark Kelly at Shreve & Co. in downtown San Francisco last week. It was a celebration timed to the arrival of the historic Breitling DC-3 in San Francisco during its World Tour. Kelly is a hero of aviation, having logged 6,000 flight hours in more than 50 different aircrafts, 375 aircraft carrier landings, and 39 combat missions. He spent more than 50 days in space during his career with NASA .

The astronaut was sporting a 500-piece Navitimer Breitling DC-3 limited edition watch that he has worn onboard the vintage aircraft for his entire journey. At the party he posed for photographs with a pair of comely young women who wore pilots' caps, then disappeared into a VIP holding area for a spell. Waiting for his return, we examined the luxury watches on display at Shreve & Co. OT is not much of a material boy, but we do understand the appeal of expensive watches. Not only are they flashy and attractive-looking, they bolster the illusion, with their sweeping hands and important-looking dials, that their owners can control time itself – something that none of us, lowly scribe or billionaire kleptocrat, can do.

Astronaut and naval aviator Mark Kelly. Photo: Courtesy the subject

Then Kelly was back in the room, describing his four trips to space on the Shuttle, the experience of lift-off ("nothing like it's portrayed in the movies"), of splashdown, and of seeing our lonely home planet Earth from outer space. "Apologies to [SpaceX founder] Elon Musk , but we're not living in colonies on Mars anytime soon. This planet – an island in space, really – is all we've got."

Kelly's identical twin brother is also an astronaut, and in fact holds the record for longest time spent in space. Kelly's wife, former US Congressman Gabrielle Giffords, was the victim of American gun violence, surviving an assassination attempt when she was meeting with constituents in 2012. What an amazing family.

On our way to Shreve & Co., we passed by Martin Lawrence Gallery, 366 Geary St., to check out a painting by French pop artist Philippe Bertho that prominently features an astronaut. All while we were on our way to meet an astronaut! Are we not truly a child of the Space Age?


Museum queers

An article in The New York Times earlier this month highlighted a new exhibition at the Prado Museum in Madrid called "The Other's Gaze, Spaces of Difference," which is art-speak for an art-historical examination of homosexuality as a subject in the museum's storied collection. Among the works in the show are "The Rape of Ganymede " by the old master Peter Paul Rubens , in which "the artist shows Ganymede and a quiver of arrows in a juxtaposition that suggests anal penetration" (We're all aquiver!); Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio 's homoerotic study "David with the Head of Goliath "; and in a nod toward transgender issues, Juan Sanchez Cotan's "Bearded Lady of Penaranda."

The Times noted that the Prado's first "gay show" (our term, not theirs) follows rather a little boomlet of major museums confronting the theme of homosexuality in their collections for the first time. These include the Thyssen-Bornemisza's "Inclusive Love" (also in Madrid) and the Tate Britain's "Queer British Art, 1861-2017" (in London). It's about bloody time, we'd say.


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