CTU prepares for Sunday's Pride Parade... and history of STONEWALL as the Pride Parade approaches... A first-hand history lesson...

On June 22, 2015, the Chicago Teachers Union notified its members that the union will be among the leading contingents in the Sunday, June 28, Pride Parade (formerly the Gay Pride Parade).

CTU at the 2014 Pride Parade.The CTU memo said:

The Chicago Teachers Union will join the 46th Annual Chicago Pride Parade on Sunday, June 28. This will be the fifth consecutive year that our unions LGBTQI members, allies and friends will participate in what always turns out to be a fun event on the citys North Side!

The parade kicks off at noon next Sunday. Please arrive at Broadway & Montrose early enough to get to the float before noon.

This year the school and student groups will march together, and we invite you to wear red when you join our marching contingent at this years parade. We will be Float No. 6 out of more than 200 participating this year!

We invite all Chicago public school teachers, students, staff, parents, and other LGBTQI and education allies to march with us! Please wear red or a CTU Pride Tee Shirt (a limited quantity will be available for sale at the parade). The art of Thomas Lanigan Schmidt includes the ubiquitous rat, shown above. The rats were made from foil, with Magic Marker for the coloration.As Chicago approaches the 2015 Pride Parade, one of the things that needs remembrance is the actual history of the rebellion that gave the date to what was originally "Gay Pride Day". It has been called "Stonewall," named after a bar in New York City where a group of gay people -- mostly men -- decided to fight the cops rather than simply be rounded up. Within three days in 1969, things changed.

A recent Gay TV show included an interview with Thomas Lanigan Schmidt, a New York artist and teacher who may be last survivor of the rebellion at the Stonewall. Lanigan Schmidt was there, and as he narrates in the interview, one of the motivations for the rebellion was "love." The URL for the video is:

Wikipedia has a decent entry on Thomas Lanigan Schmidt:

"Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt (born 1948) is an American artist who is also a veteran of the Stonewall riots.

Lanigan-Schmidt's artwork incorporates materials such as tinsel, foil, cellophane, saran wrap and glitter, embracing kitsch and intentionally tacky.[1] His work has been compared to that of Florine Stettheimer, who used cellophane in her sets for the Gertrude Stein/Virgil Thomson opera Four Saints in Three Acts; his art was included in an exhibit of artists influenced by Stettheimer.[2] His work has also been likened to the religious-themed tinfoil-covered thrones of art brut artist James Hampton.[3] He is sometimes grouped with the Pattern and Decoration art movement, though he says that is "retrospective craziness".[4][5] His art is noted for its incorporation of Catholic iconography.[6] [7] Joe Brainard is also cited as a forerunner with his use of decorative collage and queer and religious themes.[8][9]

Lanigan-Schmidt attended Pratt Institute in 1965-66, was rejected by Cooper Union, and attended School of Visual Arts.[5]

Lanigan-Schmidt began by exhibiting his art in his own apartment; an early major exhibit in 1969 was titled The Sacristy of the Hamptons.[1] Another home exhibit was titled The Summer Palace of Czarina Tatlina.[10] In these early home exhibits, and also in at least one later recreation of an early exhibit, he guided visitors through the exhibit in drag in character as art collector Ethel Dull.[11][12]

While Lanigan Schmidt's art is not widely known, he has received critical acclaim.

Reasons for Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt's art not reaching a wider audience totally elude me. This is major, major work, reflecting and augmenting today's dialogue in a unique and commanding voice. Many artists, including a generation of Lanigan-Schmidt's students, have been repeatedly amazed, inspired and guided by its panache, rapier-sharp wit, subversiveness and opulent beauty.

Robert Kushner, Art in America[13]

He has been referenced as an antecedent to Jeff Koons in the intentional use of kitsch in art.[14]

Lanigan-Schmidt's work has been included in major art museum survey exhibits. His art was in the 1984 Venice Biennale, and his trip there inspired his 1985 Venetian Glass Series.[3] His foil rats and drag queens produced in the 1970s were included in the 1995 exhibit "In A Different Light" at the Berkeley Art Museum, which was curated by Lawrence Rinder and Nayland Blake.[15][16] His art was included in the 1991 Whitney Biennial as well as the Whitney Museum's survey of 20th-century art, "The American century: art & culture 1900-2000."[17]

Lanigan-Schmidt was an associate of the underground filmmaker Jack Smith. He participated in at least one of Smith's performances, "Withdrawal from Orchid Lagoon".[18] He was interviewed in the documentary Jack Smith and the Destruction of Atlantis.[19] Another member of Lanigan-Schmidt's circle was Charles Ludlam.[20]

Lanigan-Schmidt, who is openly gay[13] was present at the Stonewall riots, a seminal moment in gay history, and is one of the few recognized veterans still living.[21][22][23] Shortly after the riot started, he was photographed with a group of other young people by photographer Fred W. McDarrah.[24] Lanigan-Schmidt appears in the film Stonewall in a documentary segment.[25] An installation art piece by Lanigan-Schmidt, Mother Stonewall and the Golden Rats commemorated the events at the Stonewall Inn.[26] In recognition of the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, Lanigan-Schmidt was among those invited to the White House to meet with Michelle and Barack Obama.[27]

He is on the faculty of the School of Visual Arts[28]

From November 18, 2012 to April 7, 2013, Lanigan-Schmidt's art was the subject of a retrospective at MoMA PS1.[29]


Add your own comment (all fields are necessary)

Substance readers:

You must give your first name and last name under "Name" when you post a comment at We are not operating a blog and do not allow anonymous or pseudonymous comments. Our readers deserve to know who is commenting, just as they deserve to know the source of our news reports and analysis.

Please respect this, and also provide us with an accurate e-mail address.

Thank you,

The Editors of Substance

Your Name

Your Email

What's your comment about?

Your Comment

Please answer this to prove you're not a robot:

4 + 2 =