SF Supe Mandelman Opens Pride Month With Art Exhibit

At least a few dozen people crammed into the second-floor City Hall offices of gay District 8 supervisor Rafael Mandelman late afternoon June 1 for a rainbow cake and display of art by six San Francisco LGBTQ artists at a small launch event for LGBTQ Pride Month.

Cheerfully, Mandelman greeted the crowds in his office, but acknowledged that this year’s Pride celebration was different than in years past.

“And of course there are more tragedies in the world, but the art is getting better, we know that,” he told visitors. “The role and importance of artists, of art, grows as times get more tumultuous and people suffer more, and that’s a horrible thing, but it’s actually true. And so I I’m so excited to have the artists in my office and to have all of you. So a wonderful, wonderful Pride everyone!”

The collection of works displayed in the supervisor’s office replaced an unintentionally expanded exhibit, a collection of tapestries titled “Larger Than Life” depicting several notable San Francisco drag queens such as Juanita MORE!, Heklina, Sister Roma and others , by artist Joseph Abbati . Like many things just over two years ago, his work was only intended to be exhibited for a short time, but the COVID pandemic prevented him from being able to remove it and Mandelman’s staff continued his work under the watchful eyes of Honey Mahogany and Peaches. Christ for more than two years.

Mahogany announced Thursday that she is running for supervisor of District 6. She had served as de facto chief of staff to former D6 supervisor Matt Haney before he resigned after being elected to the state assembly. . Matt Dorsey, a gay man whom the mayor of London Breed appointed to Haney’s seat, is also a candidate for election in November.

Curated by Abbati and South Korean-born artist Jun Yang, the paintings and photographs were placed around his desk, interspersed with some of Mandelman’s own collection. Yang, who was asked to host the show, originally invited Abbati to show with him, but the two later decided to include other artists as well, Abbati said.

The result is an eclectic yet impressive exhibition of works representing multiple styles and media. Besides Abbati and Yang, the other artists are Serge Gay Jr., Lea Magdangal, Simon Malvaez and photographer Anthony O’Donnell.

For Gay, exhibiting his work in a political setting such as a supervisor’s office is entirely appropriate.

“My work is very political,” the artist said, and when it came to deciding what to include in his selection, he chose political pieces.

Gay’s selection of four works hang above a conference table in Mandelman’s own office, each seemingly done in black and white until you look again and see he has used color sparingly. One is a self-portrait, depicting him with an exposed heart, as he gazes through a grove of tropical plants, surrounded by African masks and holding one of his hands that appears to be dipped in gold, or at least gold paint. Another depicts a black runner, dressed in track gear, chained to an iron ball, and standing out in front of his fellow runners who are only just beginning to cross the starting line. Behind them, a vast crowd of anonymous spectators watch the race from grandstands that carry advertisements for soft drinks and Freedom Bank.

In another room, a magnificent portrait of a beautiful androgynous woman hangs alone on the wall in a work by Magdangal, the only woman among the six artists. The colors are bright, spring-like, and the model — lanky, relaxed, and dressed in a white tank top and what appears to be a Greek fisherman’s cap — stares at viewers almost as if she’s barely noticed them. According to Mandelman, District 7 Supervisor Myrna Melgar particularly enjoyed the play.

This isn’t the first time Mandelman has exhibited artwork for the public in his office, but COVID, of course, has put a damper on that. Gay state senator Scott Weiner (D-San Francisco) has been hosting art exhibits in his San Francisco office for a few years now or, he did, until COVID put a stop to it as well , Abbati and Mandelman said. The artist Abbati had organized these exhibitions. Mandelman said he would also be interested in having someone host future shows in his office.

The current collection is on display in Room 284 at City Hall until the end of November.

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