Atop of Laveta Terrace snuggled tightly in with other traditional craftsmen style houses in Echo Park, is a secret. The secret is the Tom Of Finland Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to collecting, preserving and exhibiting homoerotic artwork. Built in 1906 the house sits quietly among other houses on the street and you wouldn’t know it was there unless you were looking for it. Tom Of Finland created the foundation in 1984 along with his friend Durk Dehner, who currently runs the foundation and lives in the Tom Of Finland house
Tom of Finland is a notable and collected artist who is best known for depictions of masculine men in pencil drawings. His work was published first in Physique Pictorial magazine in 1957. He then rose to popularity in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Tom of Finland’s work was set apart because of it’s focus on strong, masculine looking men. Up until Tom exploded onto the homoerotic art scene depictions of gay men were always effeminate in nature. He is quoted as saying "My whole life long I have done nothing but interpret my dreams of ultimate masculinity, and draw them." That’s exactly what he did until his death in 1991.
The Tom Of Finland foundation was recently presented by lapride.org with the 2009 Pat Parker Arts Award. The Pat Parker Award recognizes an individual or organization that supports the LGBT spirit through the arts.
The Foundation houses the largest collection of original Tom Of Finland art work along with his research book, collages and some of his childhood drawings. They also hold monthly figure drawing workshops. All levels from beginner to master artist can attend. There’s a $25.00 suggested donation that goes to support the Foundation. For more information about the figure drawing workshops contact the coordinator, Miguel Angel Reyes 323-782-0573
“I almost never draw a completely naked man. He has to have at least a pair of boots or something on. To me, a fully dressed man is more erotic than a naked one. A naked man is, of course beautiful, but dress him in black leather or a uniform — ah, then he is more than beautiful, then he is sexy!” –Tom Of Finland
For more info: Foundation office hours are Monday - Friday, 10 AM - 5 PM 213-250-1685