Making Art from the Heart: A Glimpse into the Work of Wolfgang Busch, Award-Winning Artist & Activist

Making Art from the Heart: From Germany to America, from How Do I Look to A Flow Affair, receiving the MLK Humanitarian Award, and beyond, Award-Winning, Artist-Activist and Filmmaker, Wolfgang Busch, continues to make art from the heart

Wolf Busch, MLK Award
Wolfgang Busch holding his just received Keep the Dream Alive Humanitarian Award, 2015. Photo by Alina Oswald

Some people have you at “Hello,” others at “How Do I Look.” For me, it was How Do I Look. Let me explain….
Back in 2006, Wolfgang Busch’s film documenting the ballroom scene not only introduced me to and got me interested in the ballroom community itself, but also introduced me to the life and art of an amazing artist and activist, and made me a fan of Busch’s work, in general. I smile every time I get asked how I met the award-winning activist and filmmaker. My answer always is: How Do I Look, and almost always received with “Hmms” and “Ahhs,” widened eyes and nodding heads, especially once it’s reconfirm by Wolf Busch, himself.

Wolfgang Busch: speech after receiving the MLK Award. Photo by Alina Oswald.
Wolfgang Busch: speech after receiving the MLK Award. Photo by Alina Oswald.

A German native, Busch moved to the States in 1981, with dreams to pursue a career in the entertainment industry. His contributions extend far beyond the entertainment industry, though. His activism work reaches the LGBT community, the AIDS community, and beyond. Throughout his work, creating art from the heart, he touches hearts in the most unusual and unique ways, always informing, educating, entertaining, and also enlightening, telling the most unusual stories in the most unique ways, opening not only hearts, but also eyes and minds.
Several years after the debut of How Do I Look, I got to attend the opening night of A Flow Affair, a documentary highlighting and keeping alive the art of floguing (Voguing and flagging). At the event, which took place in New York City’s West Village, I got to meet one of the artist’s mentors, Reverend Charles Gilmore. [he documented the art of floguing, in an effort to keep it alive for generations to come]
Other mentors include Darryl Hell and Kevin Omni, both whom I met last year, while covering the First International Ballroom Convention, an event produced by Busch. The artist is also a member of the House of Omni.
Busch also runs a gay table tennis group, Pink Pong, every Monday, Thursday, and Friday. “Any level player can join us,” he says.
Presently, Busch is working on a new documentary, My 90’s, covering the New York City rock scene during the 1990s.

Wolf Busch & friends. b&w
Ralph & Barb Carboy, Vic Hennegan, and Wolfgang Busch. Courtesy of Wolf Busch
Wolfgang Busch. Courtesy of Wolf Busch
Wolfgang Busch. Courtesy of Wolf Busch
Wolf Busch and Rodel Hernandez, Editorial for Compete Magazine
Wolfgang Busch and Rodel Hernandez, at the Pink Pong Foundation. Photographed by Alina Oswald.

Most recently, on January 31 of this year, Busch received the Keep the Dream Alive Humanitarian Award for his contributions to the Black community, here, in the States, and also in Germany. The event took place at Terrance on the Park, in Queens, New York, on January 31.
I got the chance to photograph Busch that night, surrounded by friends, fans and followers, receiving his award. And as I watched the ceremony unfold in front of my eyes, I could only wonder what’s next for the artist-activist. One can only wonder. I am sure it will be intriguing, interesting, entertaining, and enlightening.

To learn more about Wolfgang Busch and keep up with his upcoming events, visit him online at Art From the Heart.

To find out more about My 90’s, please visit http://my90snyc.blogspot.com

To find out more about the Pink Pong Foundation, check out www.PinkPongFoundation.org

To learn more about last year’s International Ballroom Convention, check out the article Invitation to a Ball, published in A&U Magazine–America’s AIDS Magazine.

Vampire Fantasies

Vampire Images
Coming Out represents features a vampire coming out, its bloody wings reaching out into the air, from the wet land. Coming Out was featured in OF THE MIND  art show, at Casa Colombo, in 2014.
Coming Out represents features a vampire coming out, its bloody wings reaching out into the air, from the wet land. Coming Out was featured in OF THE MIND art show, at Casa Colombo, in 2014.

“I speak Vampire!” I declared at the opening of Of The Mind art show, at Casa Colombo, when interviewed by Sally Deering for the Riverview Observer. I don’t only speak vampire, I also photograph vampires, too. And thanks to a few wonderful friends, I’ve been able to keep my vampire photography portfolio quite up to date. That’s why here, in this blog page, I’ll be sharing a few of my vampire images, together with my take on how to photograph these dramatic, dark, dangerous, and also very much desirable creatures of the night.

Primal (Fear)--The Beast Within
Primal–The Beast Within, by Alina Oswald. All Rights Reserved. Primal was first created for a photography assignment, The Animal in You (I belong to the Infinity Photographic Society here, in NYC). Primal–The Beast Within was also shown in OF THE MIND  art show at Casa Colombo

Oh, and I’m also working on revamping my book, Vampire Fantasies. More on that later. For now, here’s the Artist Statement originally written for my Vampire Fantasies body of work.

Artist Statement–Vampire Fantasies

Our fascination with vampires does not start with Edward Cullen (Twilight Saga), Sookie Stackhouse (True Blood) or Vampire Lestat (Interview with the Vampire). It doesn’t start with Forks or New Orleans, but with an enigmatic, far-away place called Transilvania (or Transylvania, using English spelling), a region in a country called Romania, the homeland of the original vampire—Count Dracula.

Ghost of a Vampire © Alina Oswald. All Rights Reserved.
Ghost of a Vampire, sepia photography, OF THE MIND art show at Casa Colombo.

Dracula goes by many names: Vlad Tepes, Vlad the Impaler, or Prince of Darkness. Ever since his death, his legend has lived on, surpassing centuries and generations. Dracula is the original vampire, the one who started our fascination with this enigmatic creature of the night, the dark predator whose very survival depends on bloodshed and, ultimately, death, human sacrifice.

Vampire characteristics have transformed and evolved, becoming trends of today’s fictional vampire—the vampire as a source of inspiration for our creative selves. Over the years, the vampire character has also evolved—from a hideous monster to a fabulous predator, a hero and even a protector of human life; from a creature of Darkness to one who can survive natural light; from a solitary individual to someone able to blend in perfectly and live among humans in modern society.

Vampire Faces. Hooded Vampire
Hooded Vampire. OF THE MIND art show at Casa Colombo.

Yet, some things do remain the same when it comes to vampires—their blood-thirst, their super-human powers, the wooden stake and, still, natural sunlight. While in the past these beliefs used to fuel our fear of vampires, nowadays they add to our fascination with vampires, to our intrigue and desire to break through their enigmatic aura and, quite possibly, fall for them.

It is precisely the mystery surrounding vampires that seeds related myths and beliefs, which, in turn, help elevate the vampire character to a subject of art. In this sense, art becomes a vehicle through which we express our feelings, our beliefs, fantasies and desires for these creatures of Darkness.

‘Til next time, I’ll leave you with a few vampire words–vampires, by other names:

Vampire. Vampir. Strigoi. The Cold Ones. The Undead.

Thanks for stopping by!

Alina Oswald

Ouroboros

Ouroboros: First post on my new blog

Several years ago I had the unique opportunity to become a member of New York City’s Infinity Photographic Society. Attending my first Infinity meeting, I was asked to introduce myself and my work using one word. The word I chose was “reality.” That is because reality has been my source of inspiration throughout the years. Especially the less popular side of it, which includes topics like HIV/AIDS, LGBT, human and animal rights, severe weather and its effects on the environment, health/medical, editorial and current events.

zigzagging the world
Horseback riding at the bottom of dormant Haleakala crater, Haleakala National Park, Hawaii

I have always been fascinated by the delicate balancing act defining reality–a balance dictated by contrasting elements in our life–the good and the bad, darkness and light, creation and destruction, and so on.

This balance and our role in maintaining it, brings to mind another term–ouroboros, the serpent that consumes itself. Ouroboros is a symbol of self-reflexivity, of reinvention through cyclicality. In a sense, it represents new meaning, shaped by the fight between two contrasting elements. Examples of ouroboros are present all around us, including nature and the environment, HIV/AIDS, our very existence at the intersection of reality and fantasy, and many more. It is up to us to interpret and use them to our advantage.

I have worked with business professionals, and small and larger business owners helping them with marketing and promotion or office art work. My writing and photography have appeared in print and online publications, while my photography artwork has also been part of several New York City art shows and galleries. My books include photography collections like Sandy Tales: Snapshots from a Hurricane, Infinite Lights: A Collection of 9/11 related photography, and Journeys Through Darkness: A Biography of AIDS telling the story of the pandemic through the story of award winning, legally blind photographer Kurt Weston. Journeys also features a few of Weston’s images.

To learn more about me, you can check out an interview by E.L. Lindley, author of Dare to Lose and Don’t Look Back, posted on her website.