In 1969, a routine police raid of the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City, ignited a six-day clash between police and civilians that many see as the birth of the modern LGBTQ+ civil rights movement. Fifty years later, a groundbreaking art exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum reflected the rallying cry “Nobody Promised You Tomorrow” by transgender artist and activist Marsha P. Johnson.
The critically acclaimed 2019 exhibition is now opening for the second time to give audiences on the West Coast an opportunity to learn and reflect.
The Center for Creativity and the Arts at Fresno State will present “Nobody Promised You Tomorrow: Art 50 Years After Stonewall,” Aug. 19 through Oct. 31 at the Phebe Conley Art Gallery. During the exhibition, the gallery will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and by appointment Sunday. Admission is free. The exhibit and auxiliary events will follow COVID-19 protocols.
“At Fresno State, our core values are diversity, distinction and discovery. Without a doubt, ‘Nobody Promised You Tomorrow: Art 50 Years After Stonewall’ reflects those values and provides a strong educational platform to learn and be curious about Fresno’s own history and participation in significant cultural legacies such as LGBTQ+ civil advocacy and the Feminist Art Movement,” said Dr. Cindy Urrutia, Center for Creativity and the Arts director.
The exhibition features artists born after the uprising whose work questions how moments become monuments while grappling with the political and cultural conditions of our time. Examined through these artists and their mediums are themes of revolt, commemoration, care and desire.
“Stonewall meant not just their survival but also their claiming of space for queer life and joy for themselves, for me and my generation, and the continued resilience and resistance … of queer and trans communities into the future,” said A.L. Rickard, independent curator/co-curator of the exhibition and former curatorial assistant for the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum.
In addition to works displayed at the 2019 Brooklyn Museum exhibition, the Center for Creativity and the Arts will work with the Brooklyn Museum to include local and West Coast artists. A catalog of the exhibition will be available through the center.
“California, in particular, has been a powerful site for movements led by people of color, low income, women and femmes, and queer and trans communities,” said Lindsay C. Harris, co-curator of “Nobody Promised You Tomorrow” and teen programs manager for Brooklyn Museum. “As a land with many Indigenous, colonial, enslaved and migrant histories, there is activism literally in the soil.”
Los Angeles artist Marcel Alcala agrees “I grew up in Santa Ana, and my grandparents have a long history of working the fields up north by Fresno. It keeps me connected and grounded to show my Latinx queer work in this kind of environment.”
Throughout the exhibit, there will be complementary events, including:
- Constellating Care Networks, a Fresno City College co-sponsored satellite exhibit, Sept. 2 through Oct. 8 at the Art Space Gallery.
- Public Reception, 5 p.m. Sept. 9 at the Phebe Conley Art Gallery.
“Performances of the Heart: Female and male impersonators, drag performers, and artists of Fresno,” 5 p.m. Sept. 25 at the Phebe Conley courtyard.
CineCulture film screenings, titles TBA.
Concert and Poetry Reading, featuring members of the LGBTQ+ community and led by Professor Benjamin Boone, details TBA.
Panel Discussion, details TBA.
“I hope that visitors to the exhibition at Fresno State are able to spend time with the glorious works of art and to take in the range of artistic approaches,” said Margo Cohen Ristorucci, co-curator of “Nobody Promised You Tomorrow” and public programs manager for Brooklyn Museum.
The Fresno State showing of “Nobody Promised You Tomorrow: Art 50 Years After Stonewall” is made possible through a generous grant from The McClatchy Fresno Arts Endowment of The James B. McClatchy Foundation. Founded in 1994, Susan and the late James B. McClatchy envisioned an organization that would address two issue areas important to California: the needs of English learners and the protections of the First Amendment in free speech, freedom of expression and a free press. Since then, the James B. McClatchy Foundation has made grants across its footprint in the Central Valley and strives to make bold investments for long-lasting impact.
“Nobody Promised You Tomorrow: Art 50 years After Stonewall” was organized by the Brooklyn Museum and curated by Margo Cohen Ristorucci, public programs coordinator; Lindsay C. Harris, teen programs manager, education; Carmen Hermo, associate curator, Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art; Allie Rickard, former curatorial assistant, Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art; and Lauren Argentina Zelaya, director, public programs, with assistance from Levi Narine, former teen programs assistant for InterseXtions and special projects at the Brooklyn Museum. This presentation was adapted by Center for Creativity and the Arts at Fresno State.
The center’s mission is to engage the public with the arts through dynamic interdisciplinary programming that highlights local topics that have global perspectives. As an institution, the center is committed to contributing to the intellectual, social and artistic life of the University and the Central Valley and seeks to create an environment where the arts function as a catalyst for intellectual and creative conversations that are grounded in the everyday life of the Central Valley.