Miss Anita Cocktail 2010 28″ x 12″ Stone, smalti, vitreous glass
In the 50’s, when we were young and growing up in the Bay Area, on a rare Saturday night the Grown Ups would don their hats and gloves and head out for Date Night at Finnochio’s in San Francisco. The next morning, still reeking of cigarettes and Crown Royal, they’d fill us with stories of the incredible “female impersonators” they had seen the night before. “She was gorgeous!” they’d exclaim. “She filled up the room! Boy, could he-she I-don’t-know-what-to-call-him-her sing!” (Be sure to check out the video at the bottom of this post.)
We have loved Drag Queens every since. Glamorous cross-dressing combined with performance art is as ancient as, well, the Greeks and the Romans.
Which is just one of the things that makes “Heroes with Bling”, a group of contemporary mosaic portraits by Michael J. Kruzich on view through June 28th at the Market Street Gallery in San Francisco, a sensational body of work.
. . . some of the brightest gems I have witnessed and appreciated in my days here have been the drag artists. There is more to these ‘ladies’ that just what is to be seen on the surface. Yes, they instantly elevate whatever situation they appear in; lightening the heart, exuding joy, displaying razor sharp wit and carrying themselves with a royal and unapologetic pride that challenges the staunchest conservative to disapprove.
But, behind all that, many of them are the truest and most dedicated humanitarians you could ask for in any community; working tirelessly for charities, fundraising events and supporting local and worldwide causes.
And some of that drag takes REAL commitment!
We think that Kruzich’s commitment to capturing the spirit of his subjects in these mosaics is no less remarkable.
Working from photographs, Kruzich elevates the images by skillfully employing some of the most exciting aspects of mosaics. Ms. Anita Cocktail is brimming with joie de vivre with vibrant, colorful glass smalti plumage and a background andamento that literally “radiates” the energy she exudes.
It is no wonder Ms. Cocktail earned the People’s Choice award a this year’s Mosaic Arts International. We can testify that she was definitely the life of that exhibition’s opening party.
In Holotta Times, Kruzich captures the quiet intensity and grace of a very different performer through careful color selection and smaller tesserae size. This Queen’s persona may be softer than Ms. Cocktail’s, but she has no less energy – Kruzich’s use of a biff-bam-socko! outline is brilliant.
You don’t need to read her bio to know, Juanita More is a Star. The vibrancy of Kruzich’s mosaic nails her as an over-the-top performer who has been wowing audiences for years. The LGBT community showed their appreciation of her charity work by making her Grand Marshall of the 2005 Gay Pride Parade.
In Tita Aida, Kruzich uses marvelous millefiori, those miniature glass gems from Murano, Italy, as a background for the more “understated” elegance of this subject. This is a capital L Lady.
Tita Aida 2011 22″ x 27″ Stone, smalti, millefiori and crystal rhinestones Photo: Danny Dan
Kruzich spent 18 months completing the set of 11 portraits. To keep himself engaged with the project, he experimented with various techniques like the use of tinted thin set for the background in The Ethel Merman Experience.
- Miss Anita Cocktail Facebook
- Holotta Times Facebook Page
- Sister Roma of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, SF Website
- Donna Sachet Facebook Page
- Galilea Facebook Page
- Garza Peru Facebook Page
- The Ethel Merman Experience Facebook Page
- Mamadora Facebook Page
- Tita Aida Facebook Group
- Sylvester Wikipedia