Wal­ter Cooper signs copies of Un­but­toned: Gay Life in the Santa Fe Arts Scene at Col­lected Works Book­store

Pasatiempo - - NEWS - — J.L.

Gay Fe

Ac­cord­ing to lo­cal artist Wal­ter Cooper, the late and leg­endary Santa Fe artist Ford Ruth­ling — a gay play­boy and the leader of a great cir­cle of like­minded artists and artis­tic types back in the 1970s — once had a six-month af­fair with sil­ver­screen heart­throb Rock Hud­son. Cooper re­veals this juicy bit of gos­sip in his new self- pub­lished mem­oir, Un­but­toned: Gay Life in the Santa Fe Arts Scene. Cooper left a New York ad­ver­tis­ing ca­reer in 1973 to come find him­self in the City Dif­fer­ent, to live openly as a gay man and pur­sue his artis­tic im­pulses. He hit town dur­ing a fer­tile time for both of th­ese ac­tiv­i­ties, when hous­ing was still af­ford­able for peo­ple try­ing to live off their art, and Santa Fe was well es­tab­lished as a haven for gays, les­bians, and bi­sex­u­als. Cooper and his clan suc­ceeded the ear­lier bo­hemian gen­er­a­tion that pre­ferred the closet, a hid­ing place Cooper dis­dains for such lu­mi­nar­ies as Ge­or­gia O’Ke­effe, who is ru­mored to have had dal­liances with women but pre­ferred to keep her sex life sep­a­rate from in­ter­pre­ta­tions of her art. Cooper also re­calls sev­eral mar­riages be­tween gay men and les­bians, as well as the rau­cous pick-up scene that was the men’s bath­room at La Fonda, but his fond­est laments are for the ca­sual close­ness of the old Santa Fe be­fore the real- es­tate boom of the 1980s and the in­fil­tra­tion of the art scene by mon­eyed in­ter­ests. Cooper signs copies of Un­but­toned at 4 p. m. on Sun­day, March 13, at Col­lected Works Book­store (202 Gal­is­teo St., 505-988- 4226) in an event that is also a re­cep­tion for Dou­glas Atwill and his novel, Din­ner in the Labyrinth, pub­lished by Sun­stone Press. On dis­play is an ex­hi­bi­tion of vis­ual art by both men, who are long­time friends and mem­bers of the so­cial and cre­ative mi­lieu Cooper writes about.

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