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Performance, Protest and Politics: The Art of Gilbert Baker

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GLBT Historical Society / San Francisco / Art

Kansas-born artist Gilbert Baker, who died in 2017, once said, “unlike Dorothy, when the tornado came, I ran right for it, saying, ‘Take me away!’” The man didn’t tread lightly, blurring the lines between artist, activist, protester, and performer. Baker served in the U.S. Army in 1970, as a medic in San Francisco. After his honorable discharge, he stayed in the city to fight for LGBTQ+ rights. It was Baker who conceived, in 1978, the rainbow flag we associate with Gay Pride. In 1994, Baker sewed a mile long rainbow flag for a Pride Parade. “When all else fails” he often said, “art is the ultimate weapon.” This exhibition places that out-and-proud flag in the context of Baker’s body of work. —E.C.

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