Earlier this month the Tom of Finland Foundation (ToFF) presented the 26th Tom of Finland Art & Culture Festival – Tom of Finland 101: Raw Anatomy both in-person at Second Home in Los Angeles and virtually. The Online Viewing Room, featuring the work of over one hundred artists, continues until March 24th 2022 here.
“The turnout, programming and weekend weather all exceeded our expectations. We are thrilled to be back with the communities we serve,” comments Richard Villani, Creative Director of ToFF.
“We wanted to offer the opportunity for global artists to participate and showcase their work,” says Dr. Gary Everett who co-curated the festival’s UK/EU section with artist Stuart Sandford, who adds: “I know you will enjoy these inspiring and diverse artists.”
Consul General of Finland in Los Angeles Okko-Pekka Salmimies opened the Tom of Finland Foundation 2021 Awards ceremony on Sunday December 5th, which saw musician and artist Martín Sorrondeguy inducted into the Tom of Finland Foundation Artist Hall of Fame by Danny Fuentes, a 2019 Tom of Finland Foundation Achievement Award recipient. “Punks aren’t used to getting awards”, Sorrondeguy commented, “so I’m really honored to get this, thank you so much everybody, the punkers are really happy that somebody’s getting this award!”
Suzanne Shifflett was given a 2021 Tom of Finland Foundation Achievement Award presented to her by Christopher Harrity, who received a 2019 Tom of Finland Foundation Inspiration Award. “I instantly felt at home at Tom of Finland Foundation”, Shifflett said upon accepting her award, “and felt like I was with with my people. Ever since then I’ve had a great relationship with them and I always enjoy my time coming to visit them at TOM House.”
The Tom of Finland Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award was bestowed upon Lloyd L. Clayton, former Executive Director of the Mayme A. Clayton Library and Museum, by Tom of Finland Foundation Board of Directors member Graylin Thorton. “This is a great opportunity, thank you Durk, thank you Sharp, thank you Tom of Finland Foundation”, said Clayton as he gifted the Foundation’s permanent collection with a sculpture by Marcello Lupetti. “Unfortunately Marcello passed away, then his lover passed away and I was asked to get his statues out of their apartment. I was friends with them both and I’ve had this for quite a few years now. But I feel that it really is best finding it a new home. And I think the best place is Tom of Finland Foundation, so I present this to you.”
“Tom of Finland Foundation is honored to have the opportunity to recognize these influential individuals who have, and continue to shape the world in which we live”, ToFF Vice President and Festival Curator S.R. Sharp said in closing the Awards. “Thank you for your tireless work to make and support art, and for challenging the status quo. We look forward to seeing what great things you accomplish next.”
ToFF’s annual festival brings together artists and patrons from all over the globe in a social environment where they can network as well as buy and sell works. Art installations, performances, DJs, and presentations occurred in select “pods”, while the gallery presentations included Edward Cella Art + Architecture, PHIL, Rubén Esparza Projects, Simon Haas and QuTies, Miguel Angel Reyes, Lethal Amounts and Rick Castro’s Torture Garden. The Tom of Finland 2021 Christmas ornament was offered by Tom of Finland Store which was manned by brand ambassador—real-life Tom of Finland hunk—Terry Miller.
Second Home proved perfect for screenings of Fred Halsted’s beautifully restored LA Plays Itself; a talk on “the masculine” in queer erotic art; and readings by Steven Reigns and William E. Jones, presented by David Kordansky Gallery. Life drawing sessions, videos, and performances by Murmurs Gallery took place in unique spaces framed by lush landscape.
About the 2021 Tom of Finland Foundation Award Recipients:
Lloyd Clayton, former Executive Director of the Mayme A. Clayton Library and Museum (MCLM) continues his mother’s legacy of collecting and preserving rare and out of print African American art books, music, film, letters, and documents that tell the stories of historical interest.
The collection contains over two million rare books, films, documents, photographs, artifacts and works of art related to the history and culture of U.S. African Americans with special focus on Southern California and the American West. The MCLM was officially founded in 1975 as the Western States Black Research Center.
Mayme, a university librarian, collector and historian, believed preserving and sharing the scattered, neglected history was crucial for current and future generations. The collection, started in a three-room garage in the West Adams district, and was moved to the old Culver City Courthouse after her death.
Lloyd became the Executive Director upon his brother Avery’s sudden death. He gave tours and began screening vintage films in a program titled, Black Talkies on Parade. He sponsored jazz concerts titled, Double M Jazz Salon, live theater and stage performances.
Lloyd’s passion is collecting and preserving musical history. He began his collection in the early 1960s as a hobby, but became intense upon discovering the first African American to be recorded on metal cylinder.
Lloyd, born in Los Angeles to Mayme and Andrew Clayton, still resides in Los Angeles and continues his collecting journey and enthusiasm for history in the arts.
Martín Sorrondeguy was born in Montevideo, Uruguay, raised in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago and has returned to Pilsen after fifteen years of living in California. He is a visual artist, photographer, and musician.
The core of Sorrondeguy’s work is about addressing inequities through the creation of physical and artistic space, first as the singer for the internationally renowned, politically charged, punk en Español, hardcore band Los Crudos. For the last nineteen years Sorrondeguy has been the singer for the beloved, hardcore, radically and openly queer punk band, Limp Wrist. Rolling Stone magazine published an article titled, Music’s Unsung LGBTQ Heroes where Limp Wrist was noted as one of twenty-five artists throughout music history that created visibility for the LGBTQ community.
In the late 1990s Sorrondeguy produced, shot, and edited a short documentary titled Mas Alla De Los Gritos/Beyond the Screams. Some of the documentary footage came from his travels to Mexico and South America while on tour with Los Crudos.
Sorrondeguy has published three photography books: En Busca de Algo Mas (Ugly, Bueno Aires) in 2015; Get Shot: A Visual Diary 1985-2012 (Make-A-Mess, Los Angeles) in late-2012; and Porqueria (Base, Tokyo) in 2010.
Sorrondeguy continues to work on various projects as a musician, documentarian, and artist.
Suzanne M. Shifflett grew up in Maine as the second child of four to a single mother. They lived at her grandmother’s house where “there were strict rules about what a girl could or couldn’t do, or be” says Shifflett.
Being dyslexic, she really had a hard time in school except for art class. In high school she took her required classes and then spent the rest of the day in the art room. Through scholarships and loans, Shifflett made it through four years of undergraduate studies. While in school she was drawn to the punk scene because it fit so well with her feeling of being an outsider. Her art, in turn, reflected those feelings.
Shifflett moved to San Francisco in 1988. Her art went from making distorted male forms into painting empowered female forms. “This had a lot to do with my freedom to be out and express my queerness: Paintings I did from this time look like S.F. queer culture” adds Shifflett.
Some of the artist’s work from the late 90s reflects how she was involved in the sex workers activist movement. In the early 2000s her work reflects her interest and involvement in BDSM. Though there have always been concerns with gender non-conformity in Shifflett’s art, it’s only been within the last ten years that it is the main subject.
In 2016, Shifflett enrolled in Laguna College of Art and Design to earn her master’s degree in painting. She now lives full time in Southern California.
The 26th Tom of Finland Art & Culture Festival Tom of Finland 101: Raw Anatomy Online Viewing Room is open virtually until March 24th 2022 here.
See more photographic highlights from the 2021 in-person festival here.