Tag Archives: Suzanne Forbes art

A Sister of Perpetual Indulgence at Folsom Europe.

Schwester Francine of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence at Folsom Europe Sept 20 2018 by Suzanne ForbesOn my way into the Folsom Europe street fair I made my donation to the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.

The Sisters collect charitable donations at the gates. I was immediately struck by Schwester Francine’s profile. I asked if I could draw her and her husband, who was keeping her company as she worked the gate. And she agreed and we had a nice chat!

A beautiful SLUT at Folsom Europe Sept 8 2018 by Suzanne ForbesLots of folx had these t-shirts, which said things like “Spanker>” and “Spankee>” and lots more.

This very good-looking “Slut” was kind enough to let me draw him on my way to The Ballery. He was from Zurich, people come from all over for Folsom Europe. His companion’s shirt said “Daddy”. These were the tame shirts ūüôā

Schwester Francine of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence at Folsom Europe Sept 20 2018 by Suzanne ForbesI raced over to the stage when I heard it was time for the sash-holders’ photo shoot.

It is not a casual thing, not a beauty contest, to be a title-holder in the Leather Community. It requires learning community history, being of service, and being respected by your peers. Anyone who earns a sash has done the work to know what it means.

Next year I will do a sash-holder feature and sketch as many as I can!

Meanwhile, it is possible for me to make and share these drawings of Europe’s leather family because of the monthly financial support of my Patrons on Patreon.

You can help! And you can print, use and share my artwork because it’s licensed Creative Commons.

 

 

Queer portrait drawings from a benefit at Ludwig!

Sigrid at Ludwig Sept 16 2018 by Suzanne Forbes in installationI am on a big gay drawing binge!

Kaey onstage at Ludwig Sept 16 2018 by Suzanne ForbesI was asked by Maurus, our friend who runs Ludwig bar and art gallery in Neukölln, to do some live drawing at a fundraiser. Of course I said yes! And I think I hit it out of the park.

Above is singer¬†Sigrid Grajek, who the benefit was for. I snuck the portrait into the installation currently in Ludwig’s main exhibition gallery, The Serpent Eats its Tail by Russell James Redwood Harris.

Harris‘s work features textiles, textures and rich symbolism, like the men’s y-fronts (tightey-whiteys!) soaked in a salt solution until they became a pure crystalline mass of snow-white glitter.

And several beautiful feathers carefully cut out of gold leather.

Kaey and Transophonix at Ludwig Sept 16 2018 by Suzanne ForbesI also drew Kaey, the MC, both while onstage and while chatting at the bar with a friend from “queer trash orchestra”¬†Transophonix.

And amazing multi-talented singer-dominabondage artist Kristina Marlen, who was there with her lovely mom. Ms. Marlen knocked the room out with a classic Berliner cabaret tune.

singer at Ludwig by Suzanne Forbes Sept 16 2018Her mom bought the drawing in the fundraiser auction, which delighted me!

It is my goal to always make myself available for LGBTQIA, sex-positive, kinky, and alternative community benefits if my spoons/health allow. In the Bay Area I did a ton of benefits and fundraisers, and I am slowly ramping up here!

I can do this work because of my wonderful Patrons on Patreon, who provide the monthly financial support that makes it possible for me to document queer life in Berlin!!

If you want an art donation for a benefit or want me to draw at an event, just let me know ūüôā I’m on Instagram here.

Queer elders at The Ballery on Folsom Europe Weekend.

Laura Halding-Hoppenheit and friends at The Ballery Folsom Europe Sept 8 2018 by Suzanne ForbesThere’s no Elders like Queer Elders.

Fearless, generous, battle-scarred by AIDS but refusing to be defined by loss, and still freaky as hell and ready to party. At big leather events they come out in full force, in full regalia. And I get to draw them! During this year’s Folsom Europe, my highest priority was making it to The Ballery for a celebration of “My Gay Eye”, their special Tom of Finland show. (you can see my drawings from the opening here!)

I drew Laura Halding-Hoppenheit, above, right before Durk Dehner announced she had made a generous donation to the Tom of Finland Foundation, which preserves and protects erotic art.

I was so moved that Laura was wearing a red ribbon pin, in an era when few publicly remind us of the presence of HIV and AIDS.

She is known as Stuttgart’s Schwulen-Mutter (Gay Mother) and the Jewel of Stuttgart, and was awarded the Federal Cross of Merit for her social work. She serves on the local council and owns King’s Club and the newly opened Tom’s Bar, a quieter bar for the elder queers, in Stuttgart. She has made her life’s work fighting AIDS, working for tolerance for gay and trans people and helping immigrant sex workers.

Rinaldo Hopf and Durk Dehner at The Ballery Folsom Europe Sept 8 2018 by Suzanne ForbesI got to draw Durk Dehner again, talking about his work as an Art Protector and his curatory collaboration with Rinaldo Hopf.

The show pairs with the Tom of Finland edition of Mein Schwules Augen, a compendium of gay erotic art Rinaldo Hopf has produced for many years.¬†The pin on Durk’s tie says “Support Art!” These older gay men, they look good. They’re fit, virile. They preserve their youth by doing creative work they care deeply about, and by having sex with and choosing as partners much younger men, just as I do!

I also got to meet Henning Von Berg, the premier nude portrait photographer for the discerning private client. He has gorgeous work in the show. I will draw him next time, he is so tall he says people say, “I didn’t see you up there!”.

Otto and the drink line for Tom of Finland vodka at The Ballery Folsom Europe Sept 8 2018 by Suzanne ForbesThe beautiful boy with the long hair is Julian, visiting from Taiwan. He is one of the artists in the show.

Artist Otto Oscar Hernández Ruiz, assistant director of the gallery, is mixing drinks with Tom of Finland vodka, an organic vodka made with arctic water. They sponsored the show!

I chatted with Diva Tomast, below, on my way home. She was relaxing outside legendary Berlin leather shop Butcherei Lindinger. She had been onstage MC’ing earlier and I had wanted to draw her but been drawn away by a photographer who wanted to capture my Bi Pride corset.

Diva Tomast at Bucherei Lindinger Folsom Europe Sept 8 2018 by Suzanne ForbesFolsom Europe is such a lovely event. So full of power, history and survival. And kissing and spanking!

The Leather community weathered a storm beyond imagining, a generation lost, and came out even stronger. I can’t wait to draw this leather celebration again next year!

I’m so grateful to my Patrons, whose monthly support via art funding platform Patreon makes my work happen. I couldn’t make documentary art of queer Berlin without them.

You can buy the special Tom of Finland edition of “My Gay Eye” here. You can donate to help the Tom of Finland Foundation preserve, protect and support the creation of erotic art here. And you can buy Tom of Finland vodka here, a percentage of sales goes to the Foundation! I’m sure it is delicious for people who like alcohol ūüôā

A gorgeous night at Uke Boogie, featuring local music heroes.

Gorjeoux at Uke Boogie Sept 13 2018 by Suzanne ForbesIncluding Gorjeoux!

Gorjeoux has a sparkle ukulele and performed “Toxic”, which I think is a Britney Spears song? With her own pun-ny lyric enhancements. In the funny songs category, The Ukelele Bandit performed a really good song about Brexit, but I did not draw him.

Rah Hell and Roberta at Uke Boogie Sept 13 2018 by Suzanne ForbesHowever I drew hostess Rah Hell and her roomie Roberta singing a Grimes song!

and this lovely fellow who performed a virtuoso piece on the musical saw. There’s always some mystery at Uke Boogie, someone who shows up and does a spectacular turn on some instrument you’ve never heard of. It’s part of the Uke Boogie magic. I don’t know why he removed his shoes to play the saw, but he did.Musical saw at Uke Boogie Sept 13 2018 by Suzanne Forbes

And I drew co-host the Great And Famous Crayon Jones in his marvelous cape and his very shiny very tight outfit!Crayon Jones at Uke Boogie Sept 13 2018 by Suzanne ForbesAlert readers will recall Crayon from my “Loving The Alien” drawings last summer.

The evening ended with Crayon, a bit drunk, playing the piano and singing “Heroes”. To hear “Heroes” in Berlin, played by someone who loves it deeply, in a roomful of people you care about, after midnight in the early Fall – well. Life is full of magic.

You can catch Uke Boogie the second Thursday of every month at Lagari. You never, ever know what’ll happen.

And keep up with drummess and ukulelist Rah Hell on the twitters and Instas. Of course, thanks to my goooorgeous Patrons on Patreon for providing the monthly financial support that makes it possible for me to document queer life in Berlin!!

Previous Uke Boogie drawings here and here.

Drawing portraits of young Berlin folx at queer art space Ludwig.

S at Ludwig Sept 7 2018 by Suzanne ForbesI went to our much-loved art hangout Ludwig on Friday for my friend Sue’s birthday.

Sue is an artist and curator and we have done lovely art events at Ludwig, however this time we were just checking out the current show and chilling. I made drawings of some friends who were there. S. was wearing their internal clitoris necklace from a local Berlin artist!

Super pleased with this likeness of E., who I was meeting for the first time.

E at Ludwig Sept 7 2018 by Suzanne ForbesAnd as always, incredibly grateful to my Patreon Patrons, for making it possible for me to make portraits of these Berlin folx and share them. 

Ok not much else to say cause I got SO MANY drawings to finish and scan and post from the rest of this Big Gay Weekend!

A huge new tiny project: a School for Gifted Youngsters at last.

Primed dry build Gables DollhouseOh my word, I am building a new dollhouse.

Dollhouse planning drawing Suzanne Forbes Aug 30 2018

Dollhouse planning drawings by Suzanne Forbes, Aug 30 2018

My first dollhouse became a kind of Valhalla, a safe haven for all the characters and stories I love. it is a large, unwieldy, fragile metaphor for healing, hope and closure.

I imagine the School for Gifted Youngsters will work in a similar way, but more specific. My feelings about the X-Men and The New Mutants are my strongest of all and there is a lot of processing happening within even starting this project.

Also, my first dollhouse took ten years to complete, so I must be out of my mind. But actually, not so much; I have a plan.

I knew from pretty early on in the construction of my first dollhouse, around 2000, that I would need a second dollhouse. I already had too many action figures, even then, and too many weird geek jokes and visual puns and obscure heart-wrenching vignettes to tell with them.

Plus, as more and more X-Men action figures were made, it became clear the X-Men and the New Mutants would need their own house.

As I searched for a second dollhouse over the last ten years, I knew I wanted it to look a certain way. More “mansion”, less Victorian curio. Designed to be front-opening and kept for display against a wall in the English “Dolls House” style rather than open in the back for play like an American “Dollhouse”.

And I wanted it to be a “quick-build” routed MDF style, for fuck’s sake, rather than the insanely laborious die-cut kits that are now almost completely replaced by slightly less laborious laser-cut kits.

I never want to do a die-cut kit again, though I’m glad that I did get the very last Cambridge Dollhouse available on the West Coast in 2000. (For some reason I was obsessively determined that the Cambridge was superior to the nearly identical Greenleaf Beacon Hill).

There’s an excellent explanation of the different types of dollhouse kits here on Mysterious Miniatures for anyone curious about the hell that is punching out and sanding hundreds of die-cut pieces from a stack of 1/8″ plywood sheets. You can also see lots of pictures and read more about the process of building my first house here.

Below, the far superior routed/sawn MDF pieces of my Gables Dolls House kit, primed and laid out yesterday.

primed Gables Dolls House parts Aug 2018

The reason I pulled the trigger and bought my first dollhouse kit was that the model I had been eyeing suddenly disappeared from the tiny pool of online shops that existed then.

Windows for the new house primed and drying before painting.

Panicked, I called all over, looking for a Cambridge, and actually found one, the last one, at The Hobby Co. of San Francisco on Geary. I hauled the box home in triumph and terror, and spent the next three years just building the structure.

Of course, I “kitbashed” the hell out of it too, custom building the extension, rebuilding the dormers and adding new walls and high quality Houseworks wooden windows and doors.

To use routed wood doors and windows I had to reinforce all the interior and exterior walls individually, from 1/8″ to 3/8″, cutting all the pieces to size. Without power tools.

I had to learn to solder to use tape wire for the electrification, because it didn’t have grooves for round wire. It was insane, and I said “I am never doing this again”.

So I kept an eye out for a front-opening, high-quality, quick-build dollhouse that was also really cheap. For a decade.

During that time several models I liked went on and off the market. I didn’t have the wherewithal, on many levels, to acquire any of the models I liked. I finally completely finished the first house and added the landscaping, walls and greenhouse in Oakland around 2013, but¬† I waited to secure it to its base because I knew we were leaving the US.

I knew if we moved to Europe I’d have access to a completely different dollhouse kit supply chain, the mother lode of front-opening English dollhouses. And when we did, I started researching and pinning and comparing all the houses available. I got my first house set up and truly finished here in 2015.

Then this year, I finished the underground laboratories. It was time to be seriously thinking about a new house.

It had to fit a very specific space, and be a very specific style. After two years of research, I had pretty much settled on The Gables kit from The Dolls House Workshop, a family-run British company.

It was gorgeous, it fit the space next to the first house perfectly, it had big rooms, it had an entry hall, it had bay windows, it had an attic for Ororo, and it was the very epitome of quick-build, including channels routed for the goddam wiring.

Most of all, it was incredibly cheap for a heirloom dollhouse kit, only £209 when they can run to the thousands.

So I was thinking about it, but I am cheap and terrified of spending large sums, so I was hesitating.

Then it started disappearing from the four online sites I had it pinned from. Marked “Discontinued”, then “Permanently Discontinued”. It was still listed on the company’s own site, so after a week of nerve-wracking waiting til my Patreon money came in, I wildly took the plunge and ordered it. Two days of euphoric planning and excitement later, I got an email from DollsHouse Workshop.

They politely explained the kit had been discontinued some time ago and it shouldn’t have been on the site.

They would process me a refund. I was crushed and at a loss. I just didn’t know what to do next. None of their other models had the turned wood windows l love, were the right size, or even had grooves for the damn wiring. The other companies’ houses didn’t move me the same way.

After a couple of days of moping, I emailed the company to check on the refund, which hadn’t shown up. I mentioned that I was devastated, that I had really wanted that particular house. I don’t why I did, I guess I just figured it couldn’t hurt to share my truth!

Later that day, I got an email back from Kelly Wiltshire-Tokeley, co-director of the company, saying she had tracked one down and it would ship that week!

What an angel! Isn’t that amazing?

Oh joy! Oh happiness! The X-Men will have a home at last!

Seriously, this is such a big deal. And of course, such a big project.

Even a quick-build dollhouse is a huge DIY project, with many stages, many decisions, and many materials involved. First I did a dry build, to check for fit and parts.

Then I had to prime. The MDF walls had to be primed with a specialty MDF primer, and the turned wooden parts primed with a wood primer.

On the left you can see some of them! Our whole house smells like primer right now. The stairs will be stained with gel stain, which I’ve ordered.

I have all the paint ready for the exterior and have ordered all the wallpaper and carpets. Putting those in before actual final assembly will make a difference of at least a hundred hours’ labor between this house and the first house.

I will use modern battery powered LED lights and run a single wire through each room rather than tapewiring the whole thing.

Plus, this house has a perfectly simple rectilinear floor plan, rather than the incredibly complex layout of House #1. Which I think I will call SlurkCroft, from now on.

So I’m not making any promises or predictions, but I’m hopeful that the School for Gifted Youngsters will be open by Christmas.

August 2018 Unterwegs: punk mom and dance party on the U1

Punk mom and sporty son on U Bahn unterwegs by Suzanne Forbes Aug 29 2018This punk mom was hustling her sporty son off the U because she wanted to hit her vape pen, ready in her hand!

She was too polite to smoke it on the train, I guess?

U1 dance club unterwegs by Suzanne Forbes Aug 29 2018The scene below was a classic Berlin moment: subway car dance party.

Just as the doors closed at Warschauerstrasse, two guys hopped on the car. As soon as it pulled out of the station, they cranked up their boombox and one was rapping while the other danced. Most people were dancing, watching or filming the scene, like the woman with the gorgeous Afro. But the guy next to her, with the model-type looks, remained still and his face was masklike in repose. I imagined he had just come home from a big shoot for Calvin Klein in Dubai and was completely exhausted…

Thank you, my Patreon Patrons, for making it possible for me to draw these Berlin moments and share these stories. People are so cool.

previous unterwegs:

July 2018 bonus round

July 2018

April 2018

March 2018

February 2018 bonus round

February 2018

January 2018 bonus round

January 2018 round 1

December 2017

November 2017

September 2017

July bonus round

July

June

May bonus round

May round one

April

March 2

March

January

December

November

Finished for Folsom Europe: Bi Pride Corset!

Bi Pride corset by Suzanne Forbes August 29 2018 front viewThis project took an entire year! About 200 hours of work! Dang!

Bi Pride corset by Suzanne Forbes August 29 2018I started this beaded corset project last fall when I got a great price on a used lilac 426 Standard mesh corset by Orchard Corset. It was always my intention to have it finished for the Motzstr. Festival, a special Pride event in Berlin in July.

But I wound up taking an entire year to finish it, and I think that’s good. Because I made it to affirm my fundamental identity as a queer woman, and I stitched that identity and pride and love into it thousands and thousands of times.

Last summer, while writing this post, I realized I’d developed a lot of internal biphobia over the last thirty years.

As a person who has been married to three men and who has almost only dated men in sobriety, I felt like a “retired” queer person. I stopped thinking of myself as bisexual.

And as a “retired” queer person, I felt so much safer.

Bi Pride corset by Suzanne Forbes August 29 2018It’s terrible to know that, to realize I took some comfort in the reduction of my vulnerability that living a straight life meant. Because I never for a minute stopped being aware of the consequences and dangers of living an out gay life.

I knew I couldn’t blame my cowardice on my upbringing. When I was fifteen and my mom opened the door to my bedroom to see me and my friend Jenny in bed naked, she asked if we wanted to go out for brunch. She accepted my girlfriend Pam into our home for years without question.

And I am no fan of my father, but he took me to Stonewall and told me what happened there before I was ten.

So my change in identity wasn’t about shame, it was about fear.

I felt guilty about living in the Bay Area as what appeared to be a straight person. I felt guilty about the privilege that accorded me. But it seemed like compared to the people around me, I was functionally straight. When you regularly attend sex parties where you draw a trans man fucking a trans woman while she gives oral sex to a nonbinary person, being a married cis-femme seems really conventional.

Bi Pride corset by Suzanne Forbes August 29 2018Plus, as a portrait painter who often asks women I’ve just met to come to my home and pose for me, I felt less creepy identifying as cis-straight-married!

Then I moved to Berlin.

Bi Pride corset by Suzanne Forbes August 29 2018 right panelLiving in Berlin has connected me to my youth and my New York identity in so many profound ways.

There was a jump-cut that happened when I left New York at 22, in 1989, to go to treatment.

I moved to St. Paul, where the halfway house was, for six years, and then to Hartford, then to DC, then to the Bay Area.

In all those places I drove a car everywhere, lived in wooden houses, people were polite in the stores… It was like a different world.

I had all these adventures in this different world, and then in 2015, I got on the subway and went home.

Or so it feels. To live in a big apartment building, take the subway everywhere, walk the city streets at 3 am, eat a slice of pizza in a doorway just out of the rain, be yelled at by a shopkeeper – this reconnects me to my fundamental self.

And of course, even though married and cis, my fundamental self is queer as fuck.

So over this year, over 200 hours, I made this corset, beading and sewing and hotfixing crystals. I will wear it with Pride at Folsom Europe next month, and I’ll get some pictures of me in it!

 

On the roof of a fancy hotel, Miss Natasha plays the accordion.

Two drawings of Miss Natasha Enquist by Suzanne Forbes Aug 2018I was invited to Miss Natasha Enquist‘s performance at the Grace Bar at Zoo Hotel.

That’s the drawing on the left, in blues and greens. The Grace Bar is a very fancy place, and I never go anywhere fancy in Berlin, so it was an interesting experience. The rooftop bar was absolutely full of blue magic hour light, reflected from the blue-tinted glass of neighboring buildings and the long Berlin twilight.Miss Natasha Enquist at Blue Summer Night Aug 16 2018 by Suzanne Forbes

It was very beautiful, but the scenesters and “influencers” at this invite-only party were completely ignoring that.

I had to leave after her first set because it was quite hot and the waiters were passing around all these frosty mojito thing drinks, which made me very thirsty! I very, very rarely feel any temptation to drink alcohol since I got sober in ’89, but a hot night and frozen drinks all around was a bad combo for me, so I went home!¬† And quickly got to work on drawing the colors of the evening. I tried to capture that blue feel.

Miss Natasha Enquist at the English Theater Aug 28 2018 by Suzanne ForbesI was also inspired to finish an orphaned drawing from this April, when Miss Natasha performed a concert at the English Theater, with proper theatrical lighting. Me and several friends went to see her, including Giulia Caruso, a fellow artist and also fellow art collaborator with Miss Natasha. The lighting and visuals were really lovely, but unfortunately it was really dark in the seats!

So I finished the lighting and color on this from memory, my mental file of images of light particles falling on MNE’s elegant face. As a portraitist, it’s so important to me to draw the same models over and over, to really try to understand how light lies over the skin and bones of a face I know.

There’s a reason artists paint the same person many times; it’s because it’s a different story every time.

“Vampire Schmetterling!”- Antoine teaching kids origami at Hometown Berlin.

Antoine teaching origami at Hometown Berlin by Suzanne Forbes Aug 21 2018My friend Antoine was doing free origami workshops for little ones at an open-air street art club/installation near the Zoo.

Origami Werkstatt at Hometown Berlin Aug 12 2018I went to draw him teaching! His friend Fabienne and her little guy Hector were the first ones there.

When more kids arrived there was a funny American girl who kept busting out with these wild sayings.

The kids were all very calm, making origami butterflies, and she suddenly yelped,

“Vampire Schmetterling!”

Suzanne Forbes drawing at Origami Werkstatt at Hometown Berlin Aug 12 2018Schmetterling is German for butterfly; I was surprised she knew the word, as I had assumed her family were tourists. But perhaps she is bilingual.

Anyway, Vampire Schmetterling is my new band name.

Hometown Berlin is located on what I believe is an old bus depot, with street art, graffiti and murals, put on by the Euro-Wandelism crew.

Here’s the Instagram! Hometown serves as a club, dance floor, graffiti and mural gallery, artists’ creative space and staging area for artwork being made for Monumenta Leipzig, a huge street art installation being created in Leipzig.

Antoine teaching origami at Hometown Berlin Suzanne Forbes Aug 21 2018 detailI was sitting there in the shade drawing these beautiful people doing creative work, surrounded by artists quietly working away on projects, with excellent music from a live dj, and I thought, this is what perfect happiness feels like.  This is absolute wealth.
Suzanne Forbes live drawing at Origami Werkstatt at Hometown Berlin Aug 12 2018

You can see I’m holding the pen a little funny because of the bus accident, which I’m gradually healing from. It works fine though!

I was able to draw for an hour at Hometown, then go to the Peaches show in Mitte and draw for several hours there. My hand was swollen, but not painful.Dancer at Hometown Berlin by Suzanne Forbes Aug 12 2018

On this sunny Sunday there was an excellent DJ and I drew the first person to hit the dance floor.

It’s normal in Berlin for very casually dressed older people to be totally serious about hardcore techno dancing in the middle of the day.

I absolutely love the subway rocket in the middle of the floor. I wish we could have it in our house. In the background you can see graffiti art by kids, they just gave ’em spray cans and let them go nuts. Now I kinda also want to give our friends’ kids spray cans and let them turn our house into a total Basquiat mashup but I will hold off on that ūüôā

Thank you, my Patreon Patrons, for making it possible for me to do this work and draw these beautiful people!! I make this live event art and share it for free because of my Patrons, and anyone can help for as little as a buck a month.