John Arsenault, Exit (Self Portrait)
Exit (Self Portrait)
John Arsenault, Blue Dancer
Blue Dancer
John Arsenault, Marcus
John Arsenault, Darkness I Became (Self Portrait)
Darkness I Became (Self Portrait)
John Arsenault, Interior Landscape Two
Interior Landscape Two
John Arsenault, Barmaid (Self Portrait)
Barmaid (Self Portrait)
John Arsenault, John
John Arsenault, Dancer for the Lonely
Dancer for the Lonely (Self Portrait)
John Arsenault, Devan
John Arsenault, Love Letter Number Five
Love Letter Number Five
Bowl with Limes
John Arsenault, Entrance (Self Portrait)
Entrance (Self Portrait)
John Arsenault, Exterior Landscape One
Exterior Landscape Number One
John Arsenault, Joey
John Arsenault, Counterfeit (Self Portrait)
Counterfeit (Self Portrait)
John Arsenault, Harley
John Arsenault, Portrait of a Girl
Portrait of a Girl
John Arsenault, Green Dancer (Self Portrait)
Green Dancer (Self Portrait)
John Arsenault, Parachutes (Self Portrait)
Parachutes (Self Portrait)
John Arsenault, Interior Landscape One
Interior Landscape One
John Arsenault, Johnny
John Arsenault, Love Letter Number Four
Love Letter Number Four
John Arsenault, Middle Ground (Self Portrait)
Middle Ground (Self Portrait)
John Arsenault, Miss Barbie Q
Miss Barbie Q
John Arsenault, I Fell In Love With The RIght One (Self Portrait)
I Fell in Love with the Right One (Self Portrait)
John Arsenault, 2012
John Arsenault, Pussy Cat
Pussy Cat
John Arsenault, Man in the Mirror (Self Portrait)
Man in the Mirror (Self Portrait)
John Arsenault, Rose in a Bottle
Rose in a Bottle
John Arsenault, Exterior Landscape Number Two
Exterior Landscape Number Two
John Arsenault, Salvador
John Arsenault, Red Dancer
Red Dancer
John Arsenault, Son of Judy
Son of Judy (Self Portrait)
John Arsenault, Silhouette of a Leatherman
Silhouette of a Leatherman
John Arsenaut, Sister Candy Cide
Sister Candy Cide
John Arsenault, The VIP Room
The VIP Room
John Arsenault, The Pool Table (Self Portrait)
The Pool Table (Self Portrait)
John Arsenault, Turkey Flex (Self Portrait)
Turkey Flex (Self Portrait)
John Arsenault, Embrace
John Arsenault, Turned Off
Turned Off
John Arsenault, Praying For Tomorrow (Self Portrait)
Praying for Tomorrow (Self Portrait)

For nearly two years, artist John Arsenault worked as a bar-back at the Eagle L.A.—a gay leather bar in the Silverlake neighborhood of Los Angeles.  Over the course of that time, he shot thousands of photographs largely with his iPhone.  A visual diary of sorts, the collection of images is titled “Barmaid.”

Larry Collins writes:

Édouard Manet’s 1882 Impressionist masterpiece “A Bar at the Folies-Bergère,” in the Courtold Gallery in London, is the touchstone for John Arsenault’s “Barmaid.” It is a painting featuring an expressionless young woman in heavy makeup, seen behind a white marble bar with sparkling glass and foil, bottles of red and green liqueurs and champagne, a bowl of tangerines and a vase of roses.

The key photograph in Arsenault’s “Barmaid” is found somewhere in the middle of his group of 50 images. It re-creates Manet’s painting closely, casting Arsenault himself as the barmaid, but now at the Eagle L.A., 133 years later. Arsenault stands impassively, just as Manet’s model does, with a bowl of limes instead of tangerines, an intense orange backlight as compensation. Behind Arsenault hangs a large painted mural of leathermen engaged in an erotic dance. The Folies-Bergère was like the Eagle in many respects: a place of entertainments and erotic negotiations. In Arsenault’s collection we also find a photograph of the pink rose, a nod to the pink rose in Manet’s painting. Arsenault has bared his furry chest to us, whereas the young woman has a floral posy at her décolletage. Manet’s painting represents a nightclub, a circus even, with a trapeze artist above the crowd, all reflected in the mirror behind the bar. A hallmark and a strength of Manet’s greatest paintings is that much is left unexplained, not meant to be decoded.

Work by John Arsenault

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