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 http://nabwmt-mke2014.tumblr.com/
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 http://www.thewatercouncil.com/
SUGAR IS COMBUSTIBLE: TRUE FAITH MARNsalonIV, 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 ArtFacts.net www.artfacts.net
2007 THIS AFTERNOON Scope NY ArtFacts.net
2006 THEREAFTER The Armory Show, NYC ArtFacts.net
2005 UNREMEMBERING Buzzer Thirty, NYC www.buzzerthirty.com
UNREMEMBERING Art Forum Berlin, GERMANY ArtFacts.net
2002 THEREAFTER: 01:22:35 – 01:22:40 RomeArts, Williamsburg, NYC
GROUP EXHIBITIONS & PROJECTS:
2018 IN THE POST Lawrence & Clark, Chicago
2017 PROPERTY Rogers Park, West Ridge Historical Society, organized by ROMANSUSAN Chicago, (co-exhibitor Erin Hayden, catalog) http://romansusan.org/property
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
WISCONSIN DESIGNERS SHOW HOUSE, Milwaukee 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 www.thomashellstrom.blogspot.com
2006 ART FORUM BERLIN ArtFacts.net GERMANY
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 ArtFacts.net Beijing CHINA
ARCO ArtFacts.net Madrid SPAIN
ART LONDON ArtFacts.net London UK
ART AMSTERDAM ArtFacts.net Amsterdam NETHERLANDS
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
BERLINER KUNSTSALON ArtFacts.net Berlin GERMANY
SCOPE MIAMI Pablo’s Birthday Miami FL
ARTE LISBOA ArFacts.net Lisbon PORTUGAL
2004 FIAC Artfacts.net Paris FRANCE
VISIONS VIII Cathedral Foundation Covington KY (catalogue) Special Jury Prize
AFFORDABLE ART FAIR Project Room 88 NYC
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
HANDLE WITH CARE Art Kitchen Amsterdam NETHERLANDS
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
BENEFIT EXHIBITION 57 Hope Brooklyn 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
THOMAS HELLSTROM AND THE SURFACES THAT INTERSECT THE AIDS EPIDEMIC & THE HOUSE MUSIC MOVEMENT Balaclava-Q April 27th, 2019 https://balaclavadotqabstractactivism.wordpress.com/
BEHOLD THE WOMAN' FEATURED AT BAY VIEW GALLERY NIGHT' Milwaukee Independent June 3rd, 2016
A QUIET VIP PREVIEW FOR EXPO Paddy Johnson ARTFCITY.com September 18, 2015 http://artfcity.com/2015/09/18/a-quiet-opening-vip-preview-for-expo/
RADIO A GO GO, Riverwest Radio, guest of Kat Murell, March 5, 2015 http://bambuser.com/v/5328969
SUPER MASSIVE BLACKHOLE #15 QUEER TIMES Anthony Luvera guest curator published December 2013 http://smbhmag.com/issues/SMBHmag15.pdf
ART CITY ASKS: THOMAS HELLSTROM Nathaniel Stern The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel October 30, 2013 http://www.jsonline.com/blogs/entertainment/229821481.html
ARTSPACE EXHIBITION ADDS ZEST TO DOWNTOWN Alex Mosher The Nevada Sagebrush October 16, 2013 http://nevadasagebrush.com/blog/2013/10/16/artspace-exhibition-adds-zest-to-downtown/
ART NOTES University of Nevada, Reno http://www.unr.edu/art/newsletter/news8_29_13.html
XENO:RENO Nevada Today http://www.unr.edu/nevada-today/events/2013-09-02-xeno-reno
AN AESTHETIC TREAT IN THE SWELTERING HEAT, Selena Milewski, Milwaukee Shepherd Express, July 25-31, 2013 http://expressmilwaukee.com/article-21495-an-aesthetic-treat-in-the-sweltering-heat.html
BORIS AND DORIS ON THE TOWN Milwaukee Shepherd Express, April 29th, 2013 http://expressmilwaukee.com/article-20976-boris-and-doris-on-the-town.html
LM:+43-87 A Photographic Installation by Thomas Hellstrom, Milwaukee Shepherd Express April 27th, 2013 http://expressmilwaukee.com/event-122108-a-photographic-installation-by-thomas-hellstrom-%7C-next-act-theatre,-255-s.-water-st.,-milwaukee,-wi.html
MARNsalon IV WITH GUEST CURATOR WILHELM VAN RENSBURG Milwaukee Shepherd Express, March 30th, 2013 http://expressmilwaukee.com/event-120180-marnsalon-iv-with-guest-curator-wilhelm-van-rensberg.html
'ARTS AT THE CENTER' FUNDS CENTER STREET ARTISTS Milwaukee Shepherd Express, August 31st, 2012 http://expressmilwaukee.com/blog-8590-blog-art-talk-milwaukee-%22arts-at-the-center%22-funds-center-street-artists.html
AIM TO COLLECT ART AFTER GALLERY NIGHT Milwaukee Shepherd Express, July 31, 2012 http://expressmilwaukee.com/blog-8495-blog-art-talk-milwaukee-aim-to-collect-art-after-gallery-night.html
SUCIPTIBLE TO IMAGES, GALLERY NIGHT PREVIEW VIDEO, Kat Murrell, Third Coast Digest July 27, 2012 http://thirdcoastdigest.com/2012/07/susceptible-to-images-video-guide-to-gallery-night/
GALLERY NIGHT BRINGS OUT ARTISTS, Mary-Louise Schumacher, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel July 23, 2012 http://www.jsonline.com/entertainment/arts/gallery-night-brings-out-artists-26654iq-163293206.html
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: http://blip.tv/file/4277418
THOMAS HELLSTROM: PHOTOGRAPHS IN THE PRESENT TENSE Steven Gdula reFRESH #51 July-August 2008 http://www.thomashellstrom.net/refresharticle.htm
THOMAS HELLSTROM iheartphotograph April 22, 2008 http://iheartphotograph.blogspot.com/search/label/thomas 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 JapanToday.com October 2003
TODAY’S MAN Drew Pisarra NewYork.Citysearch.com August 2003
SPLASH http://newsgrist.net 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 ArtFacts.net: 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
BIOGRAPHY: Born 1969, USA
THE NEW YORK TIMES August 8, 2003
ART REVIEW | 'TODAY'S MAN' By and About Men, and They're Running With It
By HOLLAND COTTER
Hiromi Yoshii Gallery
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