BUTCH- Not Like the Other Girls

Exhibition by SD Holman at Eastworks , April 4 – May 4 , 2014
Curated By Amiee Ross, The Bearded lady

OPENING RECEPTION APRIL 4, FROM 7 – 9 PM
AT MILL ART PROJECT (MAP) AT EASTWORKS
116 PLEASANT STREET, EASTHAMPTON, MA

Come for the art, stay for the Photobooth, live streaming, food and bevvies and so much more!

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Easthampton, MA: US premiere of SD Holman’s show, BUTCH: Not like the other girls, will be exhibited at the Mill Arts Project MAP (Eastworks 116 Pleasant Street suite 137, Easthampton, MA ) from April 4 – May 4, 2014, with an opening party April 4th 7pm – 9pm.

BUTCH is a photographic exploration of the liminal spaces occupied by female masculinity in contemporary communities. Curated by local resident of the valley over 20 years, Amiee Joy Ross, the exhibit is free and open to the public.

amiee-black-and-white-photography-lesbian-photosgraphy-bearded-lady-art-bearded-lady-piercing-art-opening-April-4-at-the-Mill-Arts-Project-on-116-Pleasant-St-Easthampton-MA

Holman delineates Butch as “an inclusive site of resistance to limitations on the way women, gender, and sexuality are still defined.” The images honor the beauty, power and diversity of women who transgress the gender binary, with subjects reflecting the many sizes, shapes, ethnicities, and styles of Butch. The transversal dialectic of female masculinity is celebrated here — unapologetic and undiluted.

sd-black-and-white-photography-lesbian-photosgraphy-bearded-lady-art-bearded-lady-piercing-art-opening-April-4-at-the-Mill-Arts-Project-on-116-Pleasant-St-Easthampton-MA

SD Holman a photo-based artist who has exhibited internationally at galleries including the Advocate Gallery (Los Angeles), the Soady-Campbell Gallery (New York), the San Francisco Public Library, The Helen Pitt International Gallery, Charles H. Scott, Exposure, and Fotobase Galleries (Vancouver). Holman defines as a non-commercial, photo-based artist, a participant observer employing subjective conceptual documentary practice. Holman’s approach to photography is conflicted and perverse, bringing gesture, hazard, and a painterly sensibility into this most technical of media. Hailed by Guy Warrington as “the best portrait photographer in Vancouver,” Holman is also Artistic Director of The Queer Arts Festival, a professional three-week, transdisciplinary arts festival in Vancouver, BC.

“This show displays to me such a large range of this word, this expression, Butch. I truly believe the meaning crosses dialogue into all sorts of people’s gender identities,” says debut curator Amiee Joy Ross. Known in the Pioneer Valley as The Bearded Lady, Ross has been in the area for over twenty years and has been a professional piercer in Northampton and Provincetown for sixteen years at Piercings by the Bearded Lady. Ross has sat for numerous artists, photographers, videographers and art classes including local painter Betsy Stone, Leonard Nimoy, and Del LaGrace Volcano. Declared a Gender Terrorist by Del LaGrace Volcano, Ross says, “My personal identification with the word butch as part of my gender expression, and my participation in this work, are just a small part of why I am bringing SD Holman’s Butch Project to the Valley.”

The MAP gallery is located on the first floor of the Eastworks building suite 137 at 116 Pleasant Street, Easthampton, MA. Gallery hours are Wednesday through Saturday, 12-6pm.

The Mill Arts Project (MAP), a collaboration between Easthampton City Arts+ and Eastworks, that offers a gallery space and to incubate new curatorial voices in a community context. While curators bring a vision and dedication, ECA+ and Eastworks assist with space and offer an intensive educational curatorial and organizational guide as well as assistance in project direction.

black-and-white-photography-lesbian-photosgraphy-bearded-lady-art-bearded-lady-piercing-art-opening-April-4-at-the-Mill-Arts-Project-on-116-Pleasant-St-Easthampton-MA

For more information on SD Holman and BUTCH: Not like the other girls, visit http://sdholman.com
Exhibition Contact Burns Maxey: info@EasthamptonCityArts.com | (413) 527-8278 | EasthamptonCityArts.com

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ARTICLE ABOUT THE SHOW IN THE REPUBLICAN

Fred Contrada: Conversations with The Bearded Lady

By Fred Contrada, The Republican
on February 25, 2014 at 6:44 AM, updated February 25, 2014

amiee-ross-bearded-lady-fred-contrada-butch-art-photography-art-show-opens-April-14-Mill-Arts-Project-Space-116-Pleasant-Street-Easthampton-MA

The email from Amiee Ross came a few weeks ago. She was pitching a photo exhibit called “BUTCH – Not Like the Other Girls,” and was looking for some publicity. I wrote back saying our arts section was more likely to promo the show but that I’d like to write about her.

When I arrive at Ross’ house (a suburban home on a somewhat rural road in Easthampton complete with driveway, garage and a gentle old dog named Joy), we go over my agenda again. The butch event, I tell Ross, was just an excuse to meet her. I have seen her around Northampton for years and admire the way she comports herself. Ross takes on life with enthusiasm. She’s not in your face (well, maybe a little, sometimes), but wants the world to know she’s comfortable in her own body and with who she is. This to me is especially admirable because Ross is a butch lesbian with a beard.

We hash this out as Ross makes me a cup of herbal tea. Ross, I think, is pleased by my observations, but she’s not happy I spelled her name wrong in my emails. She’s careful to feel me out. Who am I? Why do I want to write about her? I give her a brief bio and tell her my theories on sexuality. She challenges almost every one, but relaxes a bit when Joy sidles over to me for petting. Ross, I note, has numerous piercings (she makes her living doing them) and tattoos. Her t-shirt says, “Chubby & Tattooed, Bearded & Awesome.”

Ross asks most of the questions for the first half hour or so, but I finally tell her it’s my turn. I make the first one easy. She’s 51, she tells me. Ross has lived in New Mexico and Los Angeles and San Francisco and Provincetown, traveling around from the age of 18 to 33. She’s Jewish, I learn, though she did not ascertain this fact from her parents until she was 10. Ross has never been to synagogue.

Finally we get around to the subject of butch. “Butch” and “femme” are the yin and yang of lesbian relationships. At least this is the common wisdom. The “butch” is the more masculine of the two, although this might not be apparent to the casual observer. As I recite the facts as I know them, Ross is careful to correct me, pointing out when I’m making assumptions. She doesn’t like being put in a box.

“Being butch is ultimately a personal call,” she says. “We’re all guilty of projecting a nonchalance that keeps us at bay with each other. People say, ‘You’re a lesbian. I know everything about you.’ Do you?”

Still, Ross has the words “Born Butch” tattooed on her knuckles.

“I was never in the closet,” she says. “I was just in the dark.”

Then there’s the beard. The beard, says Ross, is natural. She takes no hormones, does not have Polysystic Ovary Syndrome, a glandular disorder that produces facial hair on some women.

“I am just blessed with a beard,” she says, adding that she began cultivating hers in 1980, when she lived in San Francisco. It’s not as rare a phenomenon as one might think. Some straight women, Ross tells me, work hard to keep their beards from sprouting. Being butch, this was not a problem for her.

“I took a point of derision and made it mine,” she says, reinforcing this with her version of the old saw about life giving you lemons (She salts this version with words that make it unprintable.)

I suggest that Ross is likely the only bearded lady on her street, but she neither confirms nor denies this. It’s fair to say, however, that she knows most of the bearded ladies in the vicinity. This is not a monolithic group. Some are women who have transitioned from female to male or are in the process of doing so. Once a Mecca for lesbians (Northampton was dubbed “Lesbianville, U.S.A.” by a tabloid), the area is now drawing transgender people at a significant rate. I attribute this to our atmosphere of tolerance. Ross doesn’t confirm my observation, but she does make it clear it’s not cool to call her “sir” or “dude.”

“I hate it,” she says. “I don’t want to ‘pass.’”

(“Pass” is the term used in the gay community to denote someone who is perceived at first blush to be the gender they adopt. Ross, if it’s not clear by now, does not put herself forth as a man.)

“I have a friend who calls me a ‘gender terrorist,’” Ross laughs. “I’m just a dyke with a beard. It would be easier for so many people if I did (transition).”

Because Ross lives alone, I ask if she is lonely. She cuts to the chase. “Are you asking if I’m in a long-term relationship?” It turns out Ross has girlfriends in several ports, but they’re all on the West Coast.

“I haven’t had a date in this area in years,” she says.

Ross arrived in Northampton in 1993. When I ask how this came about, she says, “I ran out of gas.” I suggest some of the other places she’s lived must have been lonely for a bearded lady and Ross tells me the following story.

She was living in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and heard that comedienne Lily Tomlin was in town. Ross, a fan, was so excited that she sat out on the plaza with a sign that said, “Lily Tomlin for president.” She says she didn’t even know at the time that Tomlin was “family.” (Tomlin, now an out lesbian, recently married her partner of 42 years. I didn’t know this).

“Let me get this straight,” I say. “Lily Tomlin’s gay?”

Ross roars with laughter from across the room, not so much at my ignorance but at my use of the word “straight.” She’s moved there to smoke after asking if I minded. I wanted to point out it’s her house but simply said no.

“BUTCH – Not Like the Other Girls” is a photo exhibit by SD Holman of Vancouver, B.C., that captures the many sizes, shapes and styles of butch. SD (pronounced “Sid”) is a friend of Ross, who volunteered to be curator for the local showing. After some searching, she was able to find a home for it here in Easthampton. It opens April 4 at the Mill Arts Project on 116 Pleasant St. and runs until May 4. The kickoff party on opening night is from 7 to 9 p.m. Be there or be square.

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KICKSTARTER LINK — CLICK HERE TO CONTRIBUTE TO THE EXHIBIT

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