vignettes of the nite XLVI: genet and lee

“Thereafter, he ennobled shame. He bore it in my presence like a burden, like a tiger clinging to his shoulders, the threat of which imparted to his shoulders a most insolent submissiveness.”

― Jean Genet, The Thief’s Journal, 1948

The Thief’s Journal is one of my favorite books. The kind you can deeply commune with, and reread for the poetry and wisdom and offering of art and pain. Its been on my nightstand for years. Among the ever-shifting pile of books that have bored me, and wait for me to resurrect interest.

My friend Lee Gordon, who died 5 years ago this coming Memorial Day, once told me he thought Genet was too hung up on Catholic guilt. As a gay Jew and PLHIV, who had a truly sadistic father, his perspective halted me. His opinion about things was always well informed. I reasoned that for its time it was revolutionary, and he conceded it was. We were both right.

I miss Lee, and was sad to see there’s no work of his online. Somewhere in an old computer are a few jpegs, but I want everyone to see them. It renewed my desire to organize a memorial show here in NYC for him (preferably not on Memorial Day, I can hear him say, lol).

“Also worth a look are paintings by Lee Gordon. For several years Mr. Gordon has been producing exquisite, strange watercolor self-portraits in which he sometimes appears wearing women’s lingerie. In the new work in watercolor and oils, he assumes an infant’s body, which gives the several paternal encounters depicted a distinctly erotic cast…his watercolors are so good that he should be awarded a full-scale show soon.” HOLLAND COTTER, NYT, 1995

Lee never got that full-scale show. He kept on making art though, even while working a very demanding job. I’d like to at least give him some version of it, posthumously. So I contacted his best buddy, another great artist, Tony Feher, whose exquisitely gorgeous retrospective at the Bronx Museum of Arts, was so deserved, btw (I can at least post a couple of those), and will try to set that in motion. This post is in memory of Lee. RIP.