Staten Island, NY……..The Alice Austen House, a Staten Island based museum which fosters creative expression, explores personal identity, and educates and inspires the public through the interpretation of the photographs, life and historic home of pioneering American photographer, Alice Austen, will hold its annual gala for the first time in Manhattan, honoring LGBT historian and Stonewall 50 consortium founder Eric Marcus and Joan ( JEB ) Biren, pioneering lesbian photographer who has chronicled LGBT lives since the 1960's. The gala will be held on October 11, 2018 ( also National Coming Out Day ) at the National Arts Club ( 15 Gramercy Park South ) from 6:30pm -9:30pm. A collection of Alice Austen's photographs will be on display at the Arts Club for the event. In addition, as part of the program, Marcus will record a live oral history with JEB.
Said Victoria Munro, Executive Director of the Alive Austen House: "The Friends of Alice Austen House is thrilled to be presenting our annual gala and benefit event at the National Arts Club in Manhattan and recognize the extraordinary accomplishments of JEB ( Joan E. Biren ) and Eric Marcus in documenting the history of LGBTQ people. JEB will receive the 'Alice Austen Award for the Advancement of Photography' for her work in documenting the lives of feminist and LGBTQ people through photography and filmmaking and Eric Marcus will be honored for his work recording personal portraits of both known and long-forgotten champions, heroes, and witnesses to history from LGBTQ civil rights movement. We are very excited that the centerpiece of our gala program will be our honorees taking the stage together, where Eric will record a live oral history with JEB. This gala and our honorees exemplify the spirit of Alice's life and work, and ties in with the longtime lack of visibility of her over 50 year relationship with her partner Gertrude, which is now so much better understood and has been integral in our efforts to obtain the LGBT Historical Designation for the Alice Austen House."
JEB ( Joan E. Biren ) said: "Unlike anyone else, Alice made photographs of her intimate, funny, sexy, private life with her women friends. I don't know if she could have guessed what a profound effect they would have on a young dyke photographer searching for her foremothers."
Eric Marcus said: "The first time I read about Alice Austen I was filled with a range of emotions. A sense of pride in a forebear who was true to herself and found love against all odds. Admiration for Alice's pioneering artistry. Tears and rage for the indignity Alice and her beloved partner faced when forced apart and denied a final wish to be buried side by side. And gratitude to the museum professionals who risked their careers to guide the Alice Austen House out of the closet and into the light of day so Alice could be recognized and celebrated for the totality of who she was. I am thrilled to be honored and to now add JEB's oral history to our archive as part of the program, so befitting of this event, the work of the museum and the spirit of Alice's legacy."
ABOUT THE MUSEUM
Alice Austen ( 1866 - 1952 ) captured a changing New York City in more than 7000 photographs taken mostly around the turn of the twentieth century. Austen documented her life on Staten Island and went onto the streets of Manhattan to photograph the activities of immigrants and the working class. She was versatile and forged her own path beyond the restrictive Victorian expectations for women. Austen was a master tennis player, an early advocate for women riding bicycles, founder of the Staten Island Garden Club, and is said to be the first women on Staten Island to own a car.
A vibrant cultural center, the Alice Austen House keeps the daring spirit of the early American photographer alive by presenting changing exhibitions of Alice Austen's pioneering historic photographs and of contemporary photography, providing educational programs for students, and offering a range of cultural programs for the public.
In June 2017, the Alice Austen House, where Austen and her life partner, Gertrude Tate, lived together for nearly 30 years, marked its national designation as a site of LGBTQ history. The museum's listing on the National Register of Historic Places was amended to include LGBTQ history as an area of significance. This was an achievement of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, funded through a grant from the New York State Historic Preservation Office and made possible by the National Park Service.