Tea Dance 1980


Photographs by Thomas Moore of artist, performer, activist Michael Biello (and Friends) from the 1980s

By Appointment Only: info@biellomartin.com

Biello Martin Studio / 148 N. 3rd Street / Old CIty / Philadelphia / 19106

Thomas Moore’s photos capture Biello, his life-partner Dan Martin, dancer Ishamel Houston-Jones and artist Warren Muller in a series of sculptural tableax. His 1980 Tea Dance Series features the dramatic ceramic, wood and leather tea sets, helmets and codpieces Biello designed and built for an exhibit at the Tyler School of Art: Clay 1980.

In an act of creative expression and gay liberation, Biello & Martin attended the opening of Clay 1980 wearing the ceramic codpieces.

Biello’s Striped Tea Set, Helmet & Codpiece were purchased by renowned collectors Andy and Ginny Lewis, however Biello was never invited back into other prestigious shows or publications by Philadelphia’s conservative curators of contemporary crafts, who missed the opportunity to showcase Biello’s adventurous use of the clay medium which he has continued to pursue to this day.

Moore’s 1988 Shroud Series of photographs are being exhibited for the first time, featuring Biello & Martin in a series of intimate poses inspired by the extraordinary impact of the AIDS epidemic on gay life and love.

Tea Dance 1980 also features new ceramic sculpture by Biello.

Here’s a short (2 minute) tour of the exhibition:

Moore, Biello & Martin were moved to share this work as a celebration of their own queer histories, and in response to recent rulings limiting LGBTQ freedoms. As they did 40+ years ago, Moore, Biello & Martin embrace the role artists and cultural activists need to play now, continuing to push the limits of creative expression – challenging ongoing inequality, prejudice, censorship, and injustice.