David Getsy Inspires with the Gutter Art of Stephen Varble

Stephen Varble in the Elizabethan Farthingale (1975) by Greg Day
Greg Day, Stephen Varble in the Elizabethan Farthingale (October 1975), digital print, 2018 (© Greg Day, 2019). Image courtesy of "Hyperallergic"
Publication Date: 
May 6, 2019

David Getsy, professor in the Art History, Theory, and Criticism department, who curated the first-ever retrospective of the work of Stephen Varble, RUBBISH AND DREAMS: The Genderqueer Performance Art of Stephen Varble, at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art in New York, brings the work to Los Angeles with the exhibit The Gutter Art of Stephen Varble: Genderqueer Performance Art in the 1970s, Photographs by Greg Day at the ONE Gallery in Los Angeles. Hyperallergic reviewed the Los Angeles exhibit, calling it "a beautiful and important retrospective. Getsy has given the queer community one of its founding mothers back."

The show features films, photographs, archival material, and costumes from the fringe performance artist's career. Photographer Greg Day who shared time with Varble, contributed to much of the artists' legacy before his death in 1984. For much of the 1970s and 1980s Varble strayed away from the art elite and embraced the streets of New York as his stage under the moniker, Marie Debris. Varble often designed outfits tailored from found trash materials and provoked the art industry by questioning the idea of class in the public sphere. By curating Varble's work as a retrospective, Getsy is continuing the duty of reviving the work of queer artists.