Artworks to Benefit History Project
The estate of a deceased Castro artist has donated a number of her portraits of denizens of the gayborhood toward the fundraising effort for a sidewalk-based LGBT history project.
The 16 watercolors and drawings by Beth Van Hoesen, who died in 2010 at the age of 84, will be on display starting in January at the George Krevsky Gallery. Her works normally sell for $12,000 to $15,000.
The portraits, four of which have duplicates, will be available on a first-come, first-served basis for purchase via a donation of more than $10,000 to the Rainbow Honor Walk.
The history project aims to install plaques honoring famous and accomplished LGBT people in the sidewalks throughout San Francisco’s Castro district. The bronze markers for the first set of 20 honorees will be installed as part of the sidewalk-widening project for Castro Street scheduled to begin in February.
Boosters of the walk need to raise $100,000 to pay for the initial 20 plaques being produced by Berkeley-based Mussi Artworks Foundry. They have already surpassed the $25,000 mark thanks in part to three $5,000 donations and an Indiegogo campaign that netted $5,500.
The Human Rights Campaign at its Castro Street store has been selling special pins to raise funds for the Rainbow Honor Walk. Later this month the HRC store will also be selling mugs featuring the first 20 inductees to benefit the project.
The batch of Van Hoesen artworks could net more than $200,000 if the special sale is successful.
Asked if he was confident the honor walk will raise enough money to pay for the first plaques by Pride 2014, when they are expected to be unveiled to the public, project co-founder David Perry stated "absolutely," noting that the project is in talks with additional funders who have expressed an interest.
"I have no doubt we will have the rest of it by Pride," said Perry, who owns his own public relations firm and teamed up with gay Castro business owner Isak Lindenauer four years ago to push for the creation of the Rainbow Honor Walk.
Van Hoesen and her husband of 52 years, artist Mark Adams, who died in 2006, had lived in an old firehouse on 22nd Street in the Castro. It became known as the Firehouse studio as the couple hosted drawing classes there and had their own studios in the home.
In addition to her beloved portraits of animals - one of a rabbit called "Sally" and that of a rooster called "Boris" are among her most famous works- Van Hoesen liked to walk around the Castro finding individuals to draw. She was particularly enamored with drag queens, and her portraits of members of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence charitable group and the late Jose Sarria, the founder of the Imperial Court system who died in August at the age of 90, are among those available for purchase next month.
In an emailed statement to the Bay Area Reporter , Mary Connors, the longtime personal assistant to Van Hoesen and Adams, stated that, "Beth was always excited when the Sisters were coming to sit for her. She enjoyed them, and found them so interesting to draw. She was fascinated by their costumes and makeup. She was also impressed with their activism in the community. She loved anything out of the ordinary."
In her will Van Hoesen stipulated that a portion of her artworks be sold to benefit an LGBT charity. Local artist Diane Roby, who worked with Van Hoesen to inventory her artworks for her estate, has long been friends with Perry and called him to inquire about an appropriate LGBT beneficiary.
"I was aware of the Rainbow Honor Walk but didn’t know how far along they were. It ended up being very good timing," said Roby.