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Tom of Finland Art Festival is 2 days of artists, vendors, and performers

Tom of Finland Art FestivalThe 26th Tom of Finland Art Festival — Tom of Finland 101: RAW Anatomy will open next week.

The event will feature erotic artists, vendors, performers, DJs, and galleries.

Tom of Finland would have been 101 this year, so 2021’s educational theme is Tom of Finland 1-0-1,” S.R. Sharp, Tom of Finland Foundation vice president and curator, said in a statement. “For this particular ‘course,’ RAW Anatomy, the artists are our instructors.”

Tom of Finland, aka Finnish artist Touko Laaksonen, created unapologetic, stylized sexual drawings of leather-clad studs and nude muscle men in the 1950s and 1960s that helped shape the fantasies and fetishes of generations of gay men and inspire gay revolution.

Laaksonen arrived in Los Angeles in 1978 to showcase his artwork in a solo exhibit. The success of the show led him to become a frequent traveler to the region. The erotic art pioneer lived in a two-story Craftsman home in Echo Park, owned by Durk Dehner, who invited Laaksonen to use the house as his local studio and residence.

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In 1984, Laaksonen and Dehner created the Tom of Finland Foundation, in the house, to preserve and promote his work. Laaksonen died in 1991.

The Tom of Finland Art Festival will take place Dec. 4 and 5, from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m., at Second Home, 1370 N. Saint Andrews Place, near Little Armenia.

Advance tickets are available.

Phenakite, the Los Angeles Times 2021 Restaurant of the Year, boasting a Michelin Star, will host a fundraising dinner at Second Home for Tom of Finland Foundation Friday.

Second Home is an indoor-outdoor space with a large garden campus, where art installations, performances, and presentations will occur in select “pods” and courtyards framed by lush landscape.

This is the first year the Tom of Finland Art Festival will take place at Second Home, and the first in-person festival the Tom of Finland Foundation has hosted in two years.

“With the highest attendance to date, the 2020 Festival was hosted on a custom website with streaming panels, performances, and exclusive events,” Durk Dehner, foundation president and cofounder, said. “We are thrilled to expand further this year with COVID-conscious experiences available for attendees.”

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In addition to the in-person festival, an online viewing room will launch on the Tom of Finland website simultaneously.

“We wanted to offer the opportunity for global artists to participate and showcase their work,” curator Gary Everett said in the statement.

The online viewing room will feature a special U.K. section, curated by Everett and Stuart Sandford.

During the festival, Tom of Finland Foundation will also present its annual awards for Lifetime Achievement to Lloyd L. Clayton, Artist Hall of Fame to Martín Sorrondeguy, and an achievement award to Suzanne Shifflett.

Exhibitors include David Kordansky Gallery, Edward Cella Art, Simon Haas, Rick Castro, and Rubén Esparza Projects.

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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