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 1970’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. I am humbled by Alice Austen House’s decision to honor me for my work. If not for the pioneering efforts of people like Alice Austen and my co-honoree, my work wouldn’t be possible. I have the privilege of standing on the shoulders of giants.”