Monday, May 22, 2017 from 6:30pm–10:00pm

VAVA VOOM honoring Zoe Leonard, Sur Rodney (Sur) and Eric Rhein and recognizing Brice Brown

Three Sixty°
10 Desbrosses Street
New York, NY,
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The 12th Annual Visual AIDS Vanguard Awards



ZOE LEONARD presented by Douglas Crimp

SUR RODNEY (SUR) presented by Lorraine O'Grady

ERIC RHEIN presented by Barbara Hunt McLanahan


BRICE BROWN for his inspiring support of Visual AIDS


Host: Morgan Bassichis

DJ: Ryan McNamara


Performances by: 

Kembra Pfahler & The Girls of Karen Black


Sasha Velour



Hauser & Wirth • Patrick Owens & Gary Martin • Diana & Rafael Viñoly


● Fia Backstrom ● Jeff Bailey ● Ross Bleckner ● Andrea Blum ● Gregg Bordowitz ● Nancy Brooks Brody ● Marisa Cardinale ● Lisa Dent ● Joy Episalla & Carrie Yamaoka ● Gordon Robichaux ● John Hanning ● Geoffrey Hendricks ● Pati Hertling ● Bill Jacobson ● James Jaxxa ● Don Joint ● Karen Kelly & Barbara Schroeder ● Noel Kirnon & Michael Paley ● Charles Leslie ● Glenn Ligon ● Eva Lundsager & Paul Ha ● Gracie Mansion ● Anthony & Celeste Meier ● Lucas M ichael ● Jennifer Morton ● Kris Nuzzi ● Wendy Olsoff & Penny Pilkington ● Ralph M. Randazzo, Esq. & Fredric Cantor ● Doreen Remen & Yvonne Force Villareal ● Shelbiana Rhein ● Sally Rosenthal ● Ira Sachs & Boris Torres ● Sarah Schulman ● Eric Shiner ● Sean Strub - Sero Project ● Steed Taylor & Nicolas Lesbros ● Lynne Tillman ● Louis Wiley, Jr. ● Lauren Wittels ● Pavel Zoubok


Art Auction

Co-chairs: Kris Nuzzi and Steed Taylor. Auction powered by Artsy.

Artworks by Mark Beard • Eric Brown • Beth Campbell • Liz Collins • Louise Fishman • Tim Greathouse • Karen Heagle • Elana Herzog • Bill Jacobson • Leon Kelly • Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt • Glenn Ligon • Zachari Logan • Max-Carlos Martinez • Carrie Moyer • Yoko Ono • John Paradiso • Richard Renaldi • Eric Rhein • Dirk Rowntree • Donna Sharrett • Jean Shin • Guy Richards Smit • Betty Tompkins • Eric Wolf/Steed Taylor • Sasha Velour


Thank you Raffle Prize Donors: 

• Custom Polaroid Portrait by artist Lucas Michael. 

• Original Painting on Clothing Item of your Choice by Scooter LaForge

• Two Night Stay at The NoMad Hotel + Artwork by Eric Rhein      

• One-of-a-Kind Studded Vest, Beanie and Turban by Studmuffin NYC

• Custom Cut and Color at Seagull Salon by Shaun SureThing


Special Thanks:


PHOTOGRAPHY: Steven Rosen Photography, Lola Flash and Photomatonchic

FLORAL DESIGN: Sherwood Florist


TOTE BAGS: Kayrock Screenprinting


Our gratitude to: M•A•C Cosmetics Global Visual Merchandising Team ● Jerome Jakubiac ● Imperial Court of New York ● Kyle Brincefield ● Lisa Chamberlin ●  Johnson & Johnson ● Andrew Zobler ● Peter Cramer ● Johanna Fateman ● Shaun Surething ● Tim Tareco ● Johnny Velour ● Tony Zanetta ● and all of our wonderful volunteers!


The Visual AIDS Vanguard Awards (VAVA) recognize the achievements and contributions of individuals who, through their work, talent and dedication, strengthen the cultural history of art, AIDS and activism in our community - and reinforce the mission of Visual AIDS. 


Founded in 1988 Visual AIDS continues to utilizes art to fight AIDS by provoking dialogue, preserving a legacy of those we lost, and supporting HIV+ artists, because AIDS is not over. 




Supported by Gilead, who provided funding.





For more:

Pictures and coverage of the event on our blog here

More pictures by Lola Flash on Facebook.

View and download photo booth pictures by Photomatonchic.

Watch videos and see more pictures on our Instagram.

POZ magazine coverage of VAVA VOOM article by Charles Sanchez

About the honorees Eric Rhein, Zoe Leonard, Sur Rodney (Sur) and Brice Brown.



Zoe Leonard, an artist primarily known for her photography, sculpture, and site-specific installations, is also an influential feminist and queer activist who started working in New York City in the 1980s, an era marked by overwhelming loss during the AIDS epidemic. Throughout her work from that time, Leonard references the enormous loss of close friends and fellow artists and activists whose absence still reverberates today.

Zoe Leonard’s work has been shown in solo exhibitions at major institutions including MoMA, New York (2015); Chinati Foundation, Marfa, TX (2013); Dia, Beacon (2008); and Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid (2008), and in international exhibitions including Whitney Biennials in 1993, 1997, and 2014; Documenta IX (1992) and Documenta XII (2007). She has participated in recent group exhibitions at the Art Institute of Chicago (2016); The Kitchen, New York (2016); MoMA PS1, Long Island City (2015); Tate Liverpool (2015); and the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2014). Monographic publications include Analogue (2007), Zoe Leonard: Photographs (2008), You see I am here after all (2010), and Available Light (2014). She is a founding member of fierce pussy, a collective of queer women artists. Leonard is also the author of the well known text, I want a president. Written in 1992, this work circulated widely during the 2016 presidential campaign and in the months since the election it has become something of an anthem for resistance and change.


Sur Rodney (Sur) is an archivist, writer and curator most renown for his position as co-director of the Gracie Mansion Gallery from 1983-88. The gallery was central to establishing Lower Manhattan's East Village scene as an internationally recognized viable art district actively historicized for cultivating a host of young and emerging artists to international acclaim.

His work with artists estates, at cause to the HIV/AIDS pandemic, led him to help establish Visual AIDS Frank Moore Archive Project while serving as a member of the organization's board for more than a decade. Along with his longtime partner Geoffrey Hendricks (a queer artist associated with FLUXUS) he collaborated on a series of curatorial projects and exhibitions relating to art and AIDS. Sur's writing on AIDS related exhibitions published in the catalog for the current traveling exhibition Art AIDS America.


Eric Rhein’s work chronicles his life experience and travels, both geographic & mystic; his childhood in the Appalachian Mountains and New York’s Hudson Valley, and his nearly three decades living with HIV. After his diagnosis in 1987, Rhein began exploring themes of vulnerability, resilience and transcendence. In 1996, the year protease inhibitors restored Rhein’s physical vitality, he began his ongoing series, Leaves, which honors the lives of over 250 men and women he knew who died of complications from AIDS. Leaves continues to evolve and be shown internationally.

Rhein received his BFA and MFA from SVA. International exhibitions include the Victoria and Albert Museum; Pera Museum, Istanbul; 21er Haus Museum of Contemporary Art, Vienna; American Embassies in Austria, Cameroon, Greece, and Malta; the Addison Gallery of American Art; the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art; Lincoln Center, Artists Space; Art in General; Sculpture Center; White Columns; The Bronx Museum of the Arts; and the Smithsonian. Reviews of Rhein’s work have appeared innumerous publications, including The New York Times, Art News, and Art in America. Grants and fellowships include the Pollock/Krasner Foundation, Art Matters,and the MacDowell Colony.



Brice Brown served on Visual AIDS Board of Directors from 2008-2015, and as Board President from 2011-2015, helping guide the organization and supporting our mission to utilizes art to fight AIDS by provoking dialogue, supporting HIV+ artists and preserving a legacy, because AIDS is not over.

Brown’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally and reviewed in the New York Times, Artforum, Art in America, Artnews, The Village Voice, and on NPR. His work in public collections includes the Speed Art Museum, the Baltimore Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, and Yale University.He founded two artist-run alternative art spaces, Front Window Gallery (2015-) and Milton Art Bank (2017-), and with Trevor Winkfield launched two artist-run arts journals, The Sienese Shredder (2006-2010) and Tether (2014-). He received a BA from Dartmouth College and an MFA from Pratt Institute.

Zoe Leonard presented by Douglas Crimp

DOUGLAS CRIMP is Fanny Knapp Allen Professor of Art History at the University of Rochester and the author of On the Museum’s Ruins, "Our Kind of Movie”: The Films of Andy Warhol, and Before Pictures. In 1987 he published a highly influential special issue of the journal October on AIDS, reissued as the book AIDS: Cultural Analysis, Cultural Activism. He continued working as an AIDS activist and educator in the ensuing years and in 2002 published a collection of his AIDS writings, Melancholia and Moralism: Essays on AIDS and Queer Politics. Crimp was the curator of the Pictures exhibition at Artists Space in New York in 1977; with Lynne Cooke, he organized the exhibition Mixed Use, Manhattan for the Reina Sofía in Madrid in 2010; and he was on the curatorial team for the 2015 iteration of MoMA PS1’s quinquennial Greater New York.

Sur Rodney (Sur) presented by Lorraine O'Grady

LORRAINE O'GRADY (Boston, 1934) has since 1977 used multiple media such as installation, performance, video and texts, and a variety of themes such as diaspora, hybridity and black female subjectivity, to uncover what has been hidden—politically, socially, personally. O'Grady lives and works in the West Village and is represented by Alexander Gray Associates, NY.

Eric Rhein presented by Barbara Hunt McLanahan

BARBARA HUNT McLANAHAN is Executive Director of the Children’s Museum of the Arts, and formerly the Executive Director of Judd Foundation (2006 – 2013), the Executive Director of Artists Space, NY (2000–2006), Visual AIDS, NY (1997–2000) and Camerawork Gallery + Darkroom, London, UK (1992—1996). She served on the board of the African and Asian Visual Artists Archive and the Leisure Services Committee of the Royal National Institute for the Blind in the United Kingdom, the Jerome Foundation in Minneapolis, ABACA (Arts Benefit All Coalition Alternative) at Satellite Academy in New York, as well as participating in Godzilla, a group of Asian American artists and curators.  In 2006 she was named Chevalier of L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the Republic of France.


Kembra Pfahler is a filmmaker, performance artist, rock musician and film actress. She is best known as the lead singer of the cult glam-punk band The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black, and for the often nude and sexual nature of her art exhibits. In 1984 she performed in XS: The Opera Opus presented at the Pyramid Club, and she created several solo performances in the 80s at ABC No Rio. In January 2007, Kembra, along with Julie Atlas Muz curated a mixed-media art exhibition titled Womanizer at Deitch Projects. As part of the 2008 Whitney Biennial and with support from the Art Production Fund, Pfahler and The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black gave a performance in the Park Avenue Armory's Drill Hall on March 14, 2008. Currently Pfahler is represented by Emalin gallery in London. In August Pfaher will remount "future feminism " with Anohni and Johanna Constantine in Aarhus Denmark.

Sasha Velour is a drag queen and visual artist currently living in Brooklyn, NY. Her creative work includes illustration, comics, drag performance, bookmaking, and video. Velour is currently appearing as a contestant on the Emmy-winning reality TV competition, Rupaul's Drag Race (Season 9). She created and stars in the highly-regarded drag event “Nightgowns” at Bizarre Bushwick, which has been called “[the] thinking queens drag show” (Time Out NY) and “a signature blend of thoughtful, politically-charged, emotional drag” (NEXT Magazine). She is also the creative force behind Velour: The Drag Magazine, a bi-yearly publication about drag artists that has been called “unmistakably thoughtful…[with an] edgy, demure, and exacting aesthetic” (Bushwick Daily).

Narcissister is a Brooklyn-based artist and performer. Wearing mask and merkin, she works at the intersection of performance, dance, art, and activism. She actively integrates her prior experience as a professional dancer and commercial artist with her art practice in a range of media including photography, video art, and experimental music. She has presented work at The New Museum, Moma PS1, The Kitchen, and at Abrons Art Center and at many nightclubs, galleries, and alternative art spaces. Narcissister has also presented her work internationally at the Music Biennale in Zagreb, Croatia, Chicks on Speed’s Girl Monster Festival, The City of Women Festival in Ljubljana, Slovenia, Copenhagen’s first live art festival, and at the Camp/Anti-Camp festival in Berlin, among many others. Her art videos have been included in exhibitions and film festivals worldwide, including on MocaTV. Her film The Self-Gratifier won an award for “Best Use of a Sex Toy” at The 2008 Good Vibrations Erotic Film Festival and her film "Vaseline" won the main prize of this festival in 2013. Interested in troubling the divide between popular entertainment and experimental art, Narcissister appeared on America’s Got Talent in 2011. Narcissister was in FORE at The Studio Museum and had her first solo gallery exhibition "Narcissister is You" at envoy enterprises in February 2013. She was nominated for a 2013 Bessie Award for her evening-length piece "Organ Player" which debuted at Abrons Art Center in March 2013. Narcissister is a 2015 Creative Capital Awardee, a 2015 Theo Westenberger Grantee, and a 2015 United States Artists Awardee.

Morgan Bassichis is a writer and comedic performer whose work explores history, mysticism, and just like, being alive. Morgan has performed at Artists Space, the New Museum, Participant Inc, Poetry Project, the Whitney Museum, and MoMA PS1 as part of Greater New York 2015. Morgan's essays on queer politics have appeared in the Radical History Review, Captive Genders, and other edited volumes. Morgan's shows have been described as "out there" (by Morgan's mother) and "super intense" (by Morgan).

Ryan McNamara is a New York City-based artist who recently rediscovered his deep love and respect for gay bars. His work has been featured at MoMA PS1, The Whitney Museum of American Art, The Guggenheim, Kunstmuseum Bonn, The Kitchen, Dallas Symphony Orchestra, White Columns, Museum of Modern Art, Perez Art Museum Miami, ICI London, Watermill Performance Center, The Garage Moscow, The Power Plant Toronto, the 2nd Athens Biennale, The High Line New York and the Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt. McNamara creates and mix all of his soundtracks, and recently DJ at the Guggenheim.