Monday 7 August 2023

(Not Quite) 80 Gays Around the World: 4) Art in Italy

Last time on “80 Gays”: Partners 9) Robert Ferro (1941-1988) and 10) Michael Grumley (1942-1988) co-wrote a book about Atlantic, the latter also writing about Bigfoot (the subject of a novel by 11) Samantha Leigh Allen), and after whom a literary prize is named which grants winners residency at the Art Workshop International founded by 12) Bea Kreloff (1925-2016) and 13) Edith Isaac Rose (1929-2018).

The Art Workshop International is a summer school offering courses in several creative arts – writing, painting, art history – while at the same time offering attendees the opportunity to experience the culture on a famous town in Italy. The second of this summer’s sessions ended a couple of weeks ago.

Several well-known lgbt artists and writers have been among the tutors during the 2-week courses, including 5) Edmund White, and Dorothy Allison (number 28 in my 2020 edition of “80 More Gays Around the World”).

The Art Workshop’s founders, 12) Bea Kreloff and 13) Edith Isaac Rose, met at the opening of an exhibition in 1980. There was an instant connection and they found kindred spirits in each other. They had a lot in common. They were both children of eastern European immigrants – Bea’s from Russia, and Edith’s from Hungary and from what is now Poland. Both of their fathers were in the clothing industry – Bea’s father was a tailor, and Edith’s father made women’s coats. And both Bea and Edith were married.

Bea Kreloff was born Beatrice Magit in 1925. In 1944 she married Bernard Krulovetsky, another child of east European immigrants. He soon shortened his name to Kreloff, and Bea kept her married name for the rest of her life. The couple had two sons.

Edith Isaac Rose was born Edith Ganansky in 1929. In 1950 she married Charles Leitelbaum (often mistakenly called Teitelbaum), again, a child of east European immigrants. They separated in the early 1980s.

In 1950 Bea and Edith were both studying art. Bea entered the Brooklyn Museum Art School. Afterwards she became a private art tutor whilst producing her own work. In the 1970s she became Chair of the Art Department at the Ethical Culture Fieldson School, Riverside, New York City. By this time she had separated from her husband and have moved with her sons into accommodation provided by the charitable organisation, the Westbeth Artists’ Residents Council in Manhattan.

Edith Isaac Rose graduated from the Art Institute of Chicago in 1951. Moving to New York City a few years later she also became an artist and decided to drop her married name and adopted the first names of her parents, Isaac and Rose, for her professional work. Edith’s artwork became increasingly more influenced by social issues, such as political corruption and social inequality. She also expanded into other media, including embroidery. She used all media to produce a body of work in the 1980s, a series of works called “Daily Rage” which displayed which reflected her own left-wing opinions.

The year after Bea and Edith met at that exhibition, Edith left her husband and went to live with Bea. They remained together until Beas’ death in 2016.

The Art Workshop International which the couple founded in 1981 was established in the historic town of Assisi in Italy. Of course, this town is famous for its association with one man, whom we met two years ago, 14) St. Francis of Assisi (c.1187-1226).

Scholars are still discussing the nature of St. Francis’s sexuality. It may never be known. Within the Franciscan Order, which he founded, the attitudes towards homosexuality have changed as society’s attitudes have changed. As a Catholic organisation the Franciscan stance on homosexuality at the moment is “love the sinner, hate the sin”. When I began studying as a Methodist lay preacher several decades ago I began researching Christian doctrine on homosexuality – apart from atheists, no genuinely Christian denomination has ever declared homosexuality one of the sins, except Christian leaders who abuse their position of influence and express their own personal view and claim it is doctrine. Even Popes have done this.

Today, all Catholics are encouraged to treat members of the lgbt community with the respect due to all humans. Some of their doctrines may be homophobic. All organisations have the right to make their own rules which their members are expected to follow, that’s democracy. But change doesn’t always come from outside. The Catholic Church cannot change (in other words, make it more acceptable to those who aren’t Catholic) if there are no lgbt Christians within in to influence change. Even though the Franciscans do not yet accept same-sex marriage within its Order they don’t apply this to same-sex marriage outside it. Some Franciscan friars openly campaigned for same-sex marriage in the USA before it became legal.

Like I said earlier, most established denominations (I don’t recognise the many blatantly homophobic US independent evangelical churches as Christian) “love the sinner, hate the sin”, so there should be no surprise to learn there are lgbt+ Christians can, and have, become church leaders. That brings me on to our next individual, an openly gay Franciscan friar who is currently the equivalent of a Franciscan bishop, 15) Brother Markus Fuhrmann (b.1971).

Next time of “80 Gays”: Some right royal visitors bring gender variation to Cologne, with a sweet smell that leads to a transformation.

No comments:

Post a Comment