Jerome Caja DUETS Book Launch with Nayland Blake, Anthony Cianciolo and Anna van der Meulen
The Classroom at MoMA PS1
Visual AIDS launched one of the latest books in our DUETS publication series, DUETS: Nayland Blake & Justin Vivian Bond in conversation on Jerome Caja, with a public program featuring Nayland Blake, Anthony Cianciolo (founder and director of the Jerome Project), and Anna van der Meulen (former executor of Jerome Caja's estate).
Described in DUETS as a “gender-fuck force,” Jerome Caja (1958–1995) was a visual artist, drag performer and provocateur in San Francisco. Caja’s playful and powerful art used unconventional materials—ranging from nail polish and eyeliner to human ashes—to express poignant themes of spirituality, mortality and sexuality.
The DUETS book features artists Nayland Blake and Justin Vivian Bond in conversation reflecting on Caja’s influential life and artistic legacy, with additional written contributions to the publication by Chris Vargas, Amy Scholder, Anna Van Der Meulen and Anthony Cianciolo.
For the NYABF launch, Blake, Cianciolo and van der Meulen discussed Caja's art, issues around AIDS and queer history, and the important work of maintaining legacies of those like Caja lost too soon to AIDS-related complications.
Nayland Blake is an artist, writer, educator, and curator. Born in New York City in 1960, they attended Bard College, Annandaleon-Hudson, New York, and then California Institute of the Arts, Valencia. After receiving their MFA, they moved to San Francisco in 1984. They have had one-person exhibitions at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; University Art Museum, Berkeley; Contemporary Arts Museum Houston; and the Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, New York. Blake’s works are in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art; the Brooklyn Museum; the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; and many others. They have authored numerous catalogue essays, as well as articles and interviews appearing in such publications as Artforum, Out, Interview, and Outlook. In 1995, they were co-curator, with Lawrence Rinder, of the landmark exhibition In a Different Light, at the University Art Museum, Berkeley, the first museum exhibition to examine the impact of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer artists on contemporary art. In 2017, they curated Tag: Propositions on Queer Play and the Way Forward at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia. Currently the founding chair of the ICP/Bard MFA program at the International Center for Photography in New York, Blake is represented by Anglim Gilbert Gallery in San Francisco and Matthew Marks Gallery in New York. For more information about Blake’s work, visit http://naylandblake.net.
Anthony Cianciolo is a native Clevelander who now lives in San Francisco. He has been an artist all his life and worked as an animator at Warner Brothers for many years. As the founder and director of the Jerome Project, he now manages Jerome Caja’s artistic legacy and is working on a feature-length documentary on Jerome.
Anna van der Meulen was a longtime friend and the former executor of Jerome Caja’s Estate. A fag-hag breeder, she lives quietly in Ohio, minding her own business. She long ago took her ball and went home.
Image courtesy credits: Left, © Jim James (Photojimsf). Right, © The Jerome Project.