CV & Contact 


Since relocating from New York City to the Upper Midwest Thomas Hellstrom’s work responds to his cultural and physical surroundings through large scale, immersive photo installations. Contemplating local histories and the regional landscape Thomas' works consider overlooked historical figures and the significance of place through research driven, archive projects.  In 2013 Thomas began an ongoing archive of Lake Michigan’s seascape observed from Milwaukee’s GPS coordinates, LM:+43-87, containing approximately 100,000 photographs (pictured above). 

Thomas received a BFA from the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. After he relocated to New York where, for 20 years, he maintained a studio in the Chelsea gallery district. Thomas’ work has been included in numerous exhibitions, notably:  Randy Alexander, Chicago, Hiromi Yoshi Gallery, Tokyo and Zach Feuer Gallery, NY garnering the attention of The New York Times, reFRESH (UK) and Camera Austria.



  • 2018 KINGDOM OF DOING: CHICAGO HOUSE MUSIC PROJECT Randy Alexander Gallery, Chicago

  • 2017 LM:+43-87 Madison Public Library, Madison, WI

  • 2016 XENO : 53207 Tonic Tavern, Bay View, WI

  • BEHOLD THE WOMAN Beulah Brinton House est. 1871, Bay View Historical Society, Milwaukee WI

  • 2015 SUGAR IS COMBUSTIBLE: FAITHFUL CORRESPONDENT in conjunction with the exhibitions: WIS CON SIN J. Shimon & J. Lindeman, Eugene von Bruenchenhein, Charles van Schaick REVEALING NATURE: Pedro Velez and Greg Klassen The Portrait Society Gallery, Milwaukee WI

  • LM:+43-87 BLOOD MOONRISE, Material Gallery, Milwaukee, WI

  • 2014 XENO:NABWMT National Association of Black and White Men Together, National Convention Milwaukee, WI

  • 2013 XENO:MKE 2013-2023 Milwaukee LGBT Community Center, Milwaukee WI

  • XENO:RENO inaugural exhibition at Artspace, University of Nevada, Reno

  • LM:+43-87 at Next Act Theater, Milwaukee, WI

  • LM:+43-87 at The Water Council, Milwaukee, WI


  • 2012 SUGAR IS COMBUSTIBLE: BCC MKE Photo Diary 1989-2012 MGAC, Milwaukee, WI

  • 2010 SUGAR IS COMBUSTIBLE: BCC NYC Photo Diary 1999-2010 F.A.D. Lower East Side, NYC

  • 2008 AUBADE Pulse NY

  • 2007 THIS AFTERNOON Scope NY

  • 2006 THEREAFTER The Armory Show, NYC

  • 2005 UNREMEMBERING Buzzer Thirty, NYC


  • 2002 THEREAFTER: 01:22:35 – 01:22:40 RomeArts, Williamsburg, NYC


  • 2018 IN THE POST Lawrence & Clark, Chicago

  • 2017 PROPERTY Rogers Park, West Ridge Historical Society, organized by ROMANSUSAN Chicago, (co-exhibitor Erin Hayden, catalog)

  • 99/1 Chicago Industrial Arts and Design Center, Chicago, IL

  • 2016 CULTURE JAM V : REVOLUTION RedLine, Milwaukee, WI

  • LM:+43-87 at Vedder Price International Headquarters, Chicago

  • SPRING The Muse Gallery and Guesthouse, Bay View, WI

  • WISCONSIN WILD AND TAME John Michael Kohler Art Center, Sheboygan, WI

  • LocuStLed Woodland Pattern Book Center, Mke, WI - co-participants: Michelle Grabner, Sabina Ott -

  • AMERICAN CONVERSATIONS collaboration with Nina Ghanbarzadeh VAR Gallery, Milwaukee, WI

  • 2015 ART AND PHILANTHROPY Cream City Foundation, Milwaukee, WI

  • THE GH00ST $HOW VI, The Green Gallery, Milwaukee, WI

  • CULTURE JAM IV : TRUTH BE TOLD Independent Space, Milwaukee, WI

  • I MADE THIS FOR YOU The Portrait Society Gallery, Milwaukee, WI

  • 2014 THE GH00ST $H0W V The Attic, Milwaukee, WI

  • BRANDING CREATIVITY Fine Arts Gallery, University of Wisconsin, Parkside Campus, Kenosha, WI


  • RELIQUARY ArtSpace, A University of Nevada, Reno Gallery, Reno NV

  • SHELFIES The Portrait Society Gallery, Milwaukee, WI

  • 2013 THE GH00ST $H0W IV Imagination Giants, Milwaukee, WI

  • SUGAR IS COMBUSTIBLE: LIZARD MOUND PARK, The Invisible Light, UW Fond du Lac Galleries

  • FACETS OF GENDER, MKE LGBT Center, Milwaukee WI

  • CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE, John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Sheboygan, WI

  • 2012 BOOK SHOW @ PORTRAIT SOCIETY, The Portrait Society, Milwaukee, WI

  • STONEWALL 43 Pride Fest, Milwaukee, WI

  • 2010 POWER TO THE PEOPLE Feature, NYC

  • 2008 SUGAR IS COMBUSTIBLE: Photo Diary 1989-2008


  • GLAAD OutAuction (co-exhibitor: Matthew Higgs) Metropolitan Pavilion NYC (catalogue)

  • FOUR MORE YEARS! Buzzer Thirty NYC

  • DiVA NY (Digital and Video Art Fair) Pablo’s Birthday (catalogue) NYC

  • CIGE Beijing CHINA

  • ARCO Madrid SPAIN

  • ART LONDON London UK


  • 2005 EMISSARY (co-exhibitor Ekhard Hahn) Pablo’s Birthday NYC

  • SCOPE NY Pablo’s Birthday NYC

  • WISH YOU WERE HERE Project Room 88 NYC

  • RAISE UP Tampa FL


  • SCOPE MIAMI Pablo’s Birthday Miami FL


  • 2004 FIAC Paris FRANCE

  • VISIONS VIII Cathedral Foundation Covington KY (catalogue) Special Jury Prize


  • SNAP TO GRID Los Angeles Center for Digital Art, Los Angeles CA

  • 2003 FARAWAY UP CLOSE RomeArts, Williamsburg, NYC

  • TODAY’S MAN John Connelly Presents, NYC

  • co-exhibitors: Assume Vivid Astral Focus, Terrance Koh, AA Bronson, Chris Ofili, Christian Holstad

  • TODAY’S MAN Hiromi Yoshii Gallery, Tokyo JAPAN (catalogue)

  • 2002 MOMENTA ART BENEFIT 2002 Momenta Art and White Columns NYC

  • AUTORITRATTO Sesto Senso Bologna ITALY

  • ART NEWPORT J.P. Morgan Chase Jersey City NJ

  • POSTCARDS FROM THE EDGE Sperone Westwater Gallery NYC


  • 2001 COLABORATORY Gale Gates el. al. NYC

  • 2000 REMOTE EXPERIENCE DEPENDENCY Universal Concepts Unlimited NYC

  • LFL Gallery NYC

  • 1998 SUMMER EXHIBITION Cheryl McGinnis Gallery NYC

  • Cheryl McGinnis at THE ART EXCHANGE NYC

  • 1997 57 Hope at THE ART EXCHANGE NYC


  • 1996 DECORUM Curators: Daniel Carello and Pedro Gomez 57 HOPE Williamsburg NYC

  • 1994 HERITAGE WITH PRIDE (co-exhibitor Paul Pfiefer) Peter Madero Gallery NYC



BEHOLD THE WOMAN' FEATURED AT BAY VIEW GALLERY NIGHT'  Milwaukee Independent  June 3rd, 2016

A QUIET VIP PREVIEW FOR EXPO Paddy Johnson September 18, 2015

RADIO A GO GO, Riverwest Radio, guest of Kat Murell, March 5, 2015

SUPER MASSIVE BLACKHOLE #15 QUEER TIMES Anthony Luvera guest curator published December 2013

ART CITY ASKS: THOMAS HELLSTROM  Nathaniel Stern The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel October 30, 2013

ARTSPACE EXHIBITION ADDS ZEST TO DOWNTOWN Alex Mosher The Nevada Sagebrush October 16, 2013

ART NOTES University of Nevada, Reno

XENO:RENO Nevada Today

AN AESTHETIC TREAT IN THE SWELTERING HEAT, Selena Milewski, Milwaukee Shepherd Express,  July 25-31, 2013

BORIS AND DORIS ON THE TOWN Milwaukee Shepherd Express, April 29th, 2013

LM:+43-87 A Photographic Installation by Thomas Hellstrom, Milwaukee Shepherd Express April 27th, 2013,-255-s.-water-st.,-milwaukee,-wi.html

MARNsalon IV WITH GUEST CURATOR WILHELM VAN RENSBURG Milwaukee Shepherd Express, March 30th, 2013

'ARTS AT THE CENTER' FUNDS CENTER STREET ARTISTS Milwaukee Shepherd Express, August 31st, 2012

AIM TO COLLECT ART AFTER GALLERY NIGHT Milwaukee Shepherd Express, July 31, 2012

SUCIPTIBLE TO IMAGES, GALLERY NIGHT PREVIEW VIDEO, Kat Murrell,  Third Coast Digest July 27, 2012

GALLERY NIGHT BRINGS OUT ARTISTS, Mary-Louise Schumacher, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel July 23, 2012

VISUAL ART HAPPENINGS: SUGAR IS COMBUSTIBLE BCC MKE Photo Diary 1989-2012 Shepherd Express July 19-25, 2012

Interview: F.A.D. Weekend L Magazine October 2010:


THOMAS HELLSTROM iheartphotograph April 22, 2008 hellstrom

SOUVENIR  Anonymous publication (published by Feature, Inc. NY) 2007  (co-participants: John Waters, Ryan Trecartin, Christopher Williams, Mark Leckey)

PERGAMON Upscene  2005

ART: THE NEW BRIDGE AND TUNNEL CROWD Holland Cotter The New York Times March 13, 2005

ART: THE HIGHS ART AND ARTISTS OF THE YEAR Holland Cotter The New York Times December 28, 2003

BY AND ABOUT MEN AND THEY ARE RUNNING WITH IT Holland Cotter The New York Times August 8, 2003

TODAY’S MAN John McGee October 2003

TODAY’S MAN Drew Pisarra August 2003

SPLASH  April 2003

FORUM Camera Austria 81  page 55 March 2003

COLABORATORY by Merrily Kerr New York Arts  December 2001, Vol. 6 #12


2008 - 2005  With The Armory Show, Pulse, Scope Art Fair NY, NY Art Forum Berlin, Berliner Kunstsalon Berlin, Germany

1993 - 1992    No Name Exhibitions, Minneapolis, MN
Curatorial Coordinator:  Selected themes, artists and artworks for exhibitions, facilitated guest curated exhibitions and projects, implemented media campaign. The success of this exhibition season led to major capital expansion, re-opening as The Soap Factory in 1995.

University of Nevada, Reno, Fall Term 2013
MKE LGBT Community Center, Milwaukee, WI  Summer 2013

PEDAGOGY: MARN Mentor Program 2015 cycle
Visiting Artist and Guest Lecturer, Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, Fall Term, 2015
Visiting Artist and Guest Lecturer, Moraine Park College, West Bend, Wisconsin, Spring Term 2015
Visiting Artist and Guest Lecturer, University of Nevada, Reno, Fall Term 2013
Visiting Artist and Guest Lecturer, Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, Spring Term, 2013

AWARDS: Finalist, Mary L. Nohl Fellowship, 2018 Individual Artist Grant, Cream City Foundation, 2013

University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
BFA, summa cum laude   Emphasis: Installation, Film Studies, Continental Theory   


THE NEW YORK TIMES August 8, 2003

ART REVIEW | 'TODAY'S MAN' By and About Men, and They're Running With It



Hiromi Yoshii Gallery

Tokyo, Japan

October – November 2003

John Connelly Presents

526 West 26th Street, 10th Floor, NYC

July 19th  - September 13th 2003


The White House is concerned. The Vatican is upset. And honestly, who can blame them, with so much normality up for grabs? Marriage and the family are under revision. Sodomy is, suddenly, not a crime. Gays are in Congress, in pulpits, on prime-time television. When I tell you that a show titled "Bravehearts: Men in Skirts" opens at the Metropolitan Museum of Art this fall, you'll see how far things have gone.

The good news is that in contemporary art they've gone even further, judging by the evidence of "Today's Man," a dandy group show at John Connelly Presents in Chelsea. It includes some 50 small pieces by as many artists, from senior figures like Alex Katz and A. A. Bronson to a raft of youthful prodigies: Mathew Cerletty, Nick Mauss, Spencer Sweeney and the one-namers Asianpunkboy and Phiiliip, to mention a few.

The theme is simple: men making art about men. Naturally, it raises expectations of a gay show, which "Today's Man" both is and is not. Explicit homoeroticism is all but absent. Straight artists tackle gayish themes. And the artists who are gay seem to have scant interest in "we're here we're queer get used to it" declarations.

The fact is, everyone concerned is used to it. Gay culture has traveled so deep into the mainstream in recent years that a presumed opposite like straight, once headed in a different direction, seems to have come along and in certain cosmetic ways merged with it. What accounts for this? Time, for one thing. Most of the artists at Connelly are too young to have experienced AIDS or the identity politics of the 1990's firsthand. They're beyond self-acceptance in terms of sexual identity; they've never known it as a threatened condition.

But such confidence has pluses and minuses. Thanks in part to path-clearing feminist and gay art of the past, young artists can draw on a vast pool of cultural references: to fashion, crafts, pop music, Saturday morning cartoons, art history, advertising, digital technology, flower power psychedelia, horror movies, spirituality, science fiction, pornography. The list goes on.

With so much tinder, sparks are bound to fly, and inventive artists like Christian Holstad, Scott Hug and Eli Sudbrack, a k a Assume Vivid Astro Focus — all in the Connelly show — have been generating considerable heat. But they have done so in funny ways, some of which recall the camp phenomenon defined by Susan Sontag in the early 1960's. "Camp is a solvent of morality," she wrote. "It neutralizes moral indignation, sponsors playfulness." That fits. So does her description of camp as depoliticized or apolitical, though, of course, political can be defined in many ways.

But I am oversimplifying the current situation, which is pretty complicated. "Today's Man," in a shorthand way, provides a lot of information about it, including a sense of the variety of masculinities in circulation. Some are not so new. The three suave men in Alex Katz's 1985 painting "Twelve Hours No. 1" might have stepped from a Paul Stuart catalog; Richard Phillip's portrait of the rapper Curtis Jackson relies on off-the-rack gangsta glamour.

A meticulous drawing by Mr. Hug titled "Michael Magnan" also adheres to a prototype, the action-hero cartoon, but slyly customizes it. The hero named in his title is the young artist Michael Magnan, creator of the fashion line Do Not Provoke Us, who contributes a drawing of his own: a high-1960's paisley-patterned image of a cosmic everyman cut out in silhouette from clouds.

Three tiny Photo Realist paintings by Everest Hall depict action-heroes of a different kind, namely those found in gay pornography, including that antique model of Marlboro Man machismo, the "clone." This erotic ideal is entertainingly updated in a florid, wet-dream drawing by Mr. Sudbrack; in a fabric collage by James Gobel; and obliquely in cave-man images by Bill Adams and Billy Grant.

Certain artists seem to have looked with care at fashion illustration: David West in his reedy, Bernard Buffet-ish ink portraits of friends; Kentaro Kobuke in a Picassoid figure, all angles and points; and Adrian Garcia Gomez in his vivid tattoolike "Geve," with its snaky body and aura of gilt flames.

A stylishly nonchalant ink sketch by Phiiliip, a songwriter and musician of expanding renown, gives a lot of space to writing, some of it crammed into a thought-balloon attached to its supine male figure: "I feel so elegant, so fancy free." For light-touch virtuosity, though, nothing matches Mr. Mauss's drawing "Kenneth Okiishi, Reluctant Effeminist," a half-materialized portrait of a fellow artist set among miniexplosions of bright color.

Several other people at Connelly — Paul Brainard, Sam Gordon, Paul P., Justin Lieberman, Matthew Keegan, Pieter Schoolwerth, Christophe Hamaide Pierson, Arnoud Holleman — also deliver polished figural work; Tim Lokiec, has 1960's Rockport School expressionism down cold. Interestingly, no two pieces look at all alike; it's as if each artist lived in his own remote galaxy, with periodic visits to the common conceptual pool. Maybe it's just the art that Mr. Connelly has chosen, but idiosyncrasy seems to be a style of its own.

This goes for narrative work, too, from Rob Thom's painting of drama in a fast-food restaurant to Hernan Bas's picture of a boy threatened by an octopus from his "Little Moby Dick in the Net" series. Dan Attoe's nocturne, "Looking Through the Dump" and Thomas Hellstrom's apparitional "Thereafter No. 06," one of the few photographs, share a Romantic, visionary mood, but nothing else.

Visionary is also the word for Jeff Davis's drawing of a pile of placidly smiling male heads bathed in celestial light and Jules de Balincourt's "Men's Safety Center," with its somewhat alarming image of what looks like an internment camp with a rainbow-beamed searchlight.

My best-of-show in the narrative division, however, is split between two completely unalike pieces: Michael Wetzel's painting "Fairfield vs. New Canaan," in which a Civil War battle rages among flowered bedsheets hung out to dry; and Nick Lowe's astonishing "Arabian Workout," a pumping-iron tableau of insanely precise detail executed in the most basic of media, pencil on paper.

Not everyone is so formally orthodox. Philippe Perrot paints with topical antiseptic; Asianpunkboy uses a mixture of bodily fluid and Pepto-Bismol to embellish a portrait embossed on paper. There are only two sculptures, both good: a white plaster life-mask titled "Vincent" by Mr. Sweeney, and Marco Boggio Sella's imposing bronze bust of a military type with a Pinocchio nose.

With its urgent tone, a text-and-image collage by the filmmaker T. J. Wilcox could be from another world: it's about a fire-breathing transsexual activist from Seattle who climbs electric poles to deliver consciousness-raising messages, of a kind that can leave political and religious powers-that-be unnerved. And at least one other artist, Mr. Holstad, seems interested in keeping such tensions alive.

In a recent show at Greene Naftali, he presented an installation of all the images he found filed under the label "gay" in the picture archives of the New York Public Library. When he copied the images, he sorted them into categories: "Drag queens; porn; Gay Rights/protests; AIDS; trying to be like straight people (passing); Military; Art." Protest pictures turned out to be the largest selection.

If there is little direct evidence of an activist spirit in "Today's Man," that may be a sign of the times, a generational thing, and could change. Meanwhile, the show's decentered concept of masculinity amounts to a political statement in itself. And there's Mr. Holstad's contribution to consider: a photo-collage of a faunlike nude boy — the imp of perversity, surely — peering out from behind a sofa in a White House reception room.


© copyright Thomas Hellstrom 2003-2019