I’m an underground artist. Like a superhero in a comic book, I have a secret identity, a trademark name, and a mask concealing my face. You would think, in the 21st century, in one of the most civilized countries in the world, this wouldn’t be necessary. But it is. And here is why –
I am an established artist. I have had my work reviewed in newspapers and magazines. I had been selling paintings to collectors over the Internet – until I started posting gay content artwork for sale too. Then, suddenly, people stopped buying my paintings. When I typed my name into the Google image search engine, my paintings, which are priced in the thousands of dollars, showed up, and so did my gay themed artwork. I could see that art collectors were seeing both the gay and non-gay artwork when they did a search with my name or with a photograph of my face. After I started to post the gay artwork, the sales of my other art stopped completely.
I have a lot of friends who are artists and also happen to be gay, lesbian , bisexual , and trans. Several of them who do queer themed artwork have the same art dealer who owns a high-end art gallery in the trendy art district downtown. These artists routinely have shows at this gallery and this dealer is usually able to sell most of the art in each show. So I went to the gallery and talked to the dealer about representing me. I suppose I’m just famous enough in this country’s art scene that he recognized both my name and face. He was very enthusiastic about the gay artwork, but not at all interested in the landscape and abstract paintings. I said to him, “That’s alright because I’m very successful selling these to art collectors over the Internet.” And he said to me, “Oh no! If you sell work over the Internet I won’t represent you. I can’t have my gallery associated with artists who sell over the Internet. And you’ll hear the same thing from every other gallery in the city.” And then he said, “Bricks and mortar galleries are doomed. It’s just a matter of time until all art is sold on the Internet.” He wouldn’t show my gay work as long as I continued to sell art on the Internet. I’m obviously not going to stop posting on the Internet paintings priced in the thousands of dollars just so this art dealer will show my gay art in his gallery. And I’m not going to stop creating gay art just because conservative art collectors who buy my landscape and abstract paintings don’t want to be associated with an artist who creates “gay” art.