Alma Goetsch

Alma Goetsch pic

May 9, 1901 – April 6, 1968

Alma Minna Goetsch was born in Milwaukee and studied at the Art Institute of Chicago before moving to East Lansing, where she taught as an art professor at Michigan State University for 37 years.  In the late 1930s, Goetsch and her partner Kathrine Winckler commissioned famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright to design a home for them in Okemos.  The couple moved to Arkansas upon retiring in 1965.

Lansing State Journal, April 8, 1968

James Aquash

James Aquash pic 2

September 8, 1950 – April 5, 2019

Ecorse resident and beloved Chippewa and Pottawatomi artisan James Aquash was born into the Walpole Island First Nation in Ontario, Canada.  In the early 1970s, he became involved with the gay liberation movement on the Wayne State University campus.  As a longtime member of the local Native community, Aquash was noted for presenting his beadwork and basket weaving at area pow wows.

Wallaceburg Courier Press, April 18, 2019

Monica Molinaro

Monica Molinaro pic

April 2, 1949 – April 9, 2022

Artist, educator, Detroit native, and Royal Oak resident Monica Mary Molinaro graduated from Troy High School in 1967.  She later attended the College for Creative Studies and earned a graduate degree at Cranbrook Academy of Art in 1983.  Her paintings and collages were showcased at such venues as Cade Gallery, CCS, Gallery 911, Flip, and posthumously as part of the Mighty Real/Queer Detroit exhibit.

Metro Times, April 27, 2022

Ray Johnson

Ray Johnson pic

October 16, 1927 – January 13, 1995

Detroit native Raymond Edward “Ray” Johnson graduated from Cass Tech High School and took art classes at the Ox-Bow School in Saugatuck.  He later studied at Black Mountain College in North Carolina before moving to New York City in the late 1940s.  Johnson became an acclaimed collagist and performance artist.  He relocated to Long Island at age 41 and ended his life at age 67.

New York Times, January 19, 1995

How to Draw a Bunny

Frederick Weston

December 9, 1946 – October 21, 2020

Born in Memphis, Tennessee and raised by his mother in Detroit, Frederick Weston attended the High School of Commerce and went on to earn his Bachelor’s from Ferris State.  In his 20s, he moved to New York, where he worked low-paying jobs while relishing the gay scene and creating an array of visual arts.  A long-term survivor of AIDS, Weston gained recognition for his artistic genius only late in life.

POZ, October 29, 2020

New York Times, November 18, 2020

Peggy Sauer

Peggy Sauer pic

March 2, 1925 – March 21, 1986

A 1944 graduate of Southeastern High School in Detroit, potter and sculptor Margaret Elizabeth “Peggy” Sauer earned her BFA at Cranbrook Academy and her Masters at Wayne State.  As one of the pioneering “Damsels of Design,” she worked as a designer of automobile interiors for General Motors from 1955 to 1962.  Sauer later taught and shared a home in Harper Woods with her partner Julie Sabit.

Detroit Free Press, March 24, 1986

How Margaret “Peg” Sauer Inspired the World

Virlena Reed

Virlena Reed pic

November 8, 1971 – November 27, 2016

Born in Toledo, Ohio, Virlena Cerese Reed of Ann Arbor, previously of Ypsilanti, graduated from Belleville High School and attended Washtenaw Community College.  She earned her Bachelor’s at Eastern Michigan University in 2000 and worked as a case manager as well as an artist.  Reed was survived by her son Christopher Fitzner-Reed and her co-parenting partner Melinda Fitzner.

Ann Arbor News, November 30, 2016

Dale Cramton

Dale Cramton obit

November 15, 1953 – October 24, 1991

Dale Allen Cramton grew up in Jackson and graduated from Parkside High School.  As a first-year college student, he was founder of the Gay Liberation Front at Central Michigan University in September 1971.  Cramton later moved to Los Angeles where he made a life for himself as an artist.  He died from AIDS-related complications at age 37.

Jackson Citizen-Patriot, October 26, 1991

Brent Dorian Carpenter

Brent Dorian Carpenter pic

April 19, 1964 – March 23, 2020

Writer and artists Brent Dorian Carpenter was born in Detroit and graduated from Cass Tech in 1981.  His entrée into Detroit’s African American LGBTQ community came in 2001 when he approached Hotter Than July planners to promote his first novel, Man of the Cloth.  Carpenter became and AIDS activist and he worked as a reporter and regular columnist for Between The Lines before moving to Atlanta in 2006.

Between The Lines, April 16, 2020

Jere Van Syoc

Jere Van Syoc pic

April 22, 1935 – January 6, 2018

Painter, sculptor, and pioneering filmmaker Jere Van Syoc graduated from Lincoln High in Ferndale.  She went on to earn her B.A. and M.F.A. from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and later taught at Western Michigan University and Nazareth College.  In 1977, Van Syoc co-founded Aradia in Grand Rapids, where her home was known as “a palace for the goddess.”  She died at age 82 in West Virginia.

High Lawn Funeral Home

Jere Van Syoc Collection at The Woman Behind the Camera