Celebrating twenty-five years of creating unforgettable art together, artists and provocateurs David Faulk (aka “Mrs. Vera Newman”) and Michael Johnstone present VERASPHERE: 25 Years of Love, Art, and Joy, a comprehensive retrospective exhibit of the prolific pair’s beloved work. The exhibit opens on September 21, 2018 at the Harvey Milk Photo Center with a Gala Opening Reception from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. and runs through October 14, 2018.

The exhibit, curated by HMPC’s Dave Christensen and Thomasina DeMaio of Art Saves Lives, will feature many of the costumes created by David for Mrs. Vera and others (including the Verasphere Pride Project, which costumes a contingent of revelers in each years’ SF LGBT Pride Parade), photographs of Mrs. Vera and others taken by Michael, and paintings by David. This show should confirm the pair’s most potent, most important impact—they have spread unmitigated joy throughout the community and worldwide.

Mondrian Clock, 2000. Photo by Michael Johnstone

“This show is a timeline of our collaboration over twenty-five years, from intimate portraits on gallery walls, costumes and community workshops, to whimsical street art that generates thousands of smiles,” Michael told A&U. He continued, “The show features examples of varied mediums we’ve used over time, beginning with the Daybook series photos, costumes for the series that led to the concept for the Verasphere Pride Project. The works are all intrinsically linked by our mutual love of color and being in the moment.”

As eloquent as he is wildly creative, David Faulk added, “This is the Verasphere, in a nutshell, an oddly decorated, amazing, unexpected nutshell. And so rather than being defeated by a strange environment too hard to understand, we somehow decided, instead, to simply wear that environment, translated into outfits refashioned out of its most unlikely and discarded elements, as a message to others about the power of the choices we can make, in facing the obstacles that confront us, whatever they may be.”

For the first time in a Verasphere exhibit, David’s paintings will figure prominently. “It’s very satisfying to show the paintings, costumes, and photographs together in a single show,” he said, “having most often exhibited them separately. The paintings and photos and costumes all inform and complement each other visually and thematically, while requiring distinctly different materials and practices to produce.

Mrs. Vera with paint brush. Photo by Michael Johnstone

“But,” he clarified, “it is in the collaborative works, such as the ‘Mrs. Vera’s Daybook Series,’ and finally in the life-affirming, joy-seeking Verasphere photos, that one can find Michael’s perspectives and mine entangled, and reinforced, allowing for the struggle to escape harm to evolve into a kind of invulnerability to harm and an ability to overcome challenges, rather than evoking the sense of dread and paralysis that can arise from uncertain or gloomy outcomes.”

VERASPHERE: 25 Years of Love, Art & Joy promises to be most colorful, most lively, most joyous gallery exhibit of the Fall. You will be amazed and mesmerized by the incredibly colorful, joy-affirming works by these two phenomenal artists.

The Harvey Milk Photo Center is located at 50 Scott Street, at the top of Duboce Park, in the lower level of the Harvey Milk Center for the Arts building. Curator: David Christensen. The Gallery is closed on Mondays and Fridays. Gallery hours: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday: 3 p.m.-9:30 p.m.; Saturday: 10 a.m.-5:30 p..m.; and Sunday: 11 a.m.–5:30 p.m. Phone: 415-554-9522. Admission is always free. Log on to www.harveymilkphotocenter.org.

For more information about Verasphere, see our Gallery article in A&U, March 2017. You can also join their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/groups/299728543438767/.

—Reporting by Hank Trout

Hank Trout, Editor at Large, edited Drummer, Malebox, and Folsom magazines in the early 1980s. A long-term survivor of HIV/AIDS (diagnosed in 1989), he is a thirty-eight-year resident of San Francisco, where he lives with his fiancé Rick. Follow him on Twitter @HankTroutWriter.