Bronx Museum Exhibits the Photos of Alvin Baltrop, Who Spent Years Documenting New York City’s Underground Gay Community

Alvin Baltrop, Untitled (Portrait of Marsha P. Johnson)
Alvin Baltrop, Untitled (Portrait of Marsha P. Johnson)
Bronx Museum

The name Alvin Baltrop probably doesn’t ring a bell, but an exhibition at The Bronx Museum of the Arts hopes to change that. The exhibit, “The Life and Times of Alvin Baltrop,” displays more than 200 photographs that Baltrop snapped between 1975 and 1986.

Baltrop started photography as a teen, and while he was in the Navy during Vietnam, he photographed his sailor friends doing fun things like sticking their tongues out. The Bronx-born artist then returned to New York and received an education from New York City’s School of Visual Arts, graduating in 1975. When the West Side Elevated Highway collapsed in 1973, a section of the West Side piers, near the Hudson River, became a fertile ground for gay culture and experimental artists. Baltrop photographed people sunbathing on the pier and in the midst of sexual acts; homeless people in dilapidated warehouses; and crime scenes. He also snapped a black-and-white portrait of transgender Stonewall Riots activist Marsha P. Johnson, which is part of the exhibit.

“Like the startling images of Peter Moore, Robert Mapplethorpe, Peter Hujar, and Gordon Matta-Clark, the photographs of Alvin Baltrop memorialize New York City at a breaking-point moment amid ruin and chaos,” the press release reads. (The Mapplethorpe Foundation, Inc. supported the exhibition.) The Bronx Museum pulled the photos from their permanent collection, from private collections, and from Baltrop’s personal archive—the first time those prints have been shown to the public.

Baltrop’s work arrived at a time when the LGBTQ community struggled with AIDS and civil rights, and Baltrop did his part in infusing his subjects with humanity. Before his untimely death from cancer in 2004, Baltrop hadn’t received much recognition and had only put on a few exhibitions, including one held in a gay nightclub. In conjunction with the exhibition, which runs until February 9, 2020, museum-goers can pick up a 200-page catalog of his works from the Bronx Museum Store.

Alvin Baltrop, Pier 52 (Gordon Matta-Clark's "Day's End"), 1975–1986
Alvin Baltrop, Pier 52 (Gordon Matta-Clark's "Day's End"), 1975–1986, Silver gelatin print, Bronx Museum of the Arts Permanent Collection.
Bronx Museum of the Arts

Alvin Baltrop, Pier 52 (Gordon Matta-Clark's "Day's End"), 1975–1986.
Alvin Baltrop, Pier 52 (Gordon Matta-Clark's "Day's End"), 1975–1986, Silver gelatin print
Bronx Museum of the Arts Permanent Collection

95 Years of The New Yorker Covers Visualized by Color

Screenshot via C82
Screenshot via C82

On February 21, 1925, The New Yorker appeared on the magazine scene with a cover illustration of a dandy drawn by art editor Rea Irvin, a character later christened Eustace Tilley. Almost a century later, Tilley still graces the cover of The New Yorker at least once a year on the magazine’s anniversary. Other weeks, they commission artists to illustrate timely political topics and evergreen moods.

The magazine has run more than 4600 covers in its 92 years of near-weekly issues (it’s currently published 47 times a year), all of which you can explore by color, thanks to designer Nicholas Rougeux (who has previously visualized sentences and punctuation in classic literature).


Using an algorithm, Rougeux analyzed the top five colors represented in every cover illustration and created a color palette for that issue. Then, he mapped out a palette for every single cover, creating a timeline of New Yorker design. It allows you to see what colors have dominated particular years and decades. If you scroll over the individual palettes, you can see the full image of that week’s cover.


Rougeux found some trends in the colors that have repeatedly graced the magazine’s cover. “Limited and muted palettes were used the 1920s," he writes on his site, while "possibly due to printing limitations, darker greens were more common in the 1940s, lighter palettes were used in the 1970s and 1980s, louder contrasting palettes were popular in the 1990s and more well-rounded palettes started being used since the 2000s.”

You can explore the color timeline for yourself here.

All images courtesy Nicholas Rougeux

Bob Ross's Son Is Holding Painting Classes at a Tennessee Library

Bob Ross.
Bob Ross.
Bob Ross Inc.

For anyone who has ever logged on to the internet, Bob Ross needs no introduction. The painter, who passed away in 1995, spent the years 1983 through 1994 hosting the PBS series The Joy of Painting, where his soothing manner and bubbling-spring landscapes comforted viewers.

On several episodes, Bob’s son, Steve Ross, could be seen painting his own nature scenes as guest host or assisting his father in answering reader questions.

According to WVLT, Steve Ross is now set to offer painting classes at the Blount County Public Library in Maryville, Tennessee. He will be joined by Dana Jester, an artist who also appeared on The Joy of Painting. The workshops will be held March 4 through March 8 and will cost $125 per attendee, who will also be expected to bring their own supplies. The classes will last the entire day.

If locals are curious and don’t want to commit to the fee, Steve and Dana will be hosting a free demonstration on March 5 at 6:30 p.m.

After his guest spots on his father’s program, Steve appeared to retreat from public life, though clips of his appearances were apparently popular on Tumblr for their inadvertently risqué banter. (“It can be dirty, it doesn’t have to be clean,” and so forth.)

Bob Ross also taught classes even while The Joy of Painting was airing. He purportedly received no income from that show, earning a living via merchandising and appearances.

[h/t WVLT]

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