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    Artist Phillip Hua’s Magnificent New Solo Show in SF

    By John Lewis and Stuart Gaffney–

    Twenty years ago, police arrested John Lawrence and Tyron Garner in bed together in Houston, Texas, for the state law crime of “homosexual conduct.” Lawrence and Garner’s challenge to their arrest went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which in Lawrence v. Texas struck down all state laws criminalizing private, consensual sexual activity. That landmark decision paved the way for the rise of the marriage equality movement that culminated in the 2015 nationwide victory for love, dignity and equality at the Supreme Court.

    Queer San Francisco artist Phillip Hua celebrates the LGBTIQ rights struggle and marriage equality victory in a marvelous new solo show entitled “Domestic. Politics.” at Ruth’s Table Gallery in San Francisco’s Mission District. In the show, Hua imbues ordinary household items with social and political messages—all in stunningly beautiful and creative ways. With respect to marriage equality, he infuses bedding, such as duvet covers and pillow cases, with newspaper headlines from the years-long struggle and the actual full text of the U.S. Supreme Court marriage equality decision.

    Hua quips, “Just when you thought we had finally gotten politics out of the bedroom, I wanted to put it right back in. I wanted to create art objects that not only celebrate social and political progress, but also that you would touch and use every day. How many artworks do you literally get into bed with?” Unlike the plaintiffs in Lawrence, LGBTIQ couples no longer must fear the police arresting them in their bedrooms. With Hua’s artwork, they can literally wrap themselves in the words and fabric of equality, dignity and love as they tuck each other in at night. 

    The show is an immersive experience that represents visually and physically the blurred line between art, politics and daily life, and also features pieces relating to gun control and environmentalism. It’s activist work with a portion of each sale of art going to a nonprofit organization working in the area. “I also hope that people will be inspired to think about how they too can be active in helping to shape the culture or government that they want to see,” says Hua.

    Hua intends that works on sale at the show will be at affordable prices (beginning at $20), enabling people to own a piece designed by a much sought-after artist with a growing worldwide reputation.
    Hua, who was raised by Vietnamese refugee parents in San Jose, is emerging not only as a prominent Bay Area artist, but also as an artist whose work is exhibited nationally and internationally. 

    In 2015, Hua’s enigmatically engaging portraits that merge half the face of one San Franciscan with that of another were displayed on Muni buses across the city as part of his commissioned project, “We Are San Francisco: Unified Portraits of a Divided San Francisco.” Hua’s work is on permanent display at SFO, Terminal 3, at the Bun Mee restaurant, and early next year will be one of three public artworks in the redesigned 19th Street Oakland BART station. His work has been exhibited at venues in New York, Los Angeles, London, Brussels, Florence, Hong Kong and Seoul, just to name a few.

    Hua’s artistry also pervades San Francisco’s Portola District, where he lives with his husband Eric Rottenberg. Hua is helping to energize the neighborhood’s growing queer population, in particular by organizing popular Drag Queen Bingo community benefit nights at El Toro, San Bruno Avenue’s Latin music and dance club. The family-friendly event is one of a number of venues where people can meet Hua’s drag persona, Severa Wang (

    “Domestic. Politics.” is a “don’t miss” exhibition that offers us an intimate experience of Hua’s artwork and literally invites us in.  As Hua says: “It’s here, it’s queer, get in bed with it!”

    “Domestic. Politics.”

    June 11–30

    Opening reception: Saturday, June 16, 2–5 pm @ Ruth’s Table, 3171 21st Street, San Francisco

    More information is available online (, ( and (

    Disclosure: The nonprofit organization Marriage Equality, founded by Stuart and John, is one of the organizations that will receive support from sales from the exhibition.

    Stuart Gaffney and John Lewis, together for over three decades, were plaintiffs in the California case for equal marriage rights decided by the California Supreme Court in 2008. Their leadership in the grassroots organization Marriage Equality USA contributed in 2015 to making same-sex marriage legal nationwide.