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
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
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
May 8, 1925 – March 23, 1993
One of the most esteemed African American artists in Detroit history, LeRoy Foster was renowned for painting public murals in numerous buildings, including Cass Tech High School and the Frederick Douglass branch of the Detroit Public Library. As with many gay men of his generation, Foster was arrested on charges of accosting undercover vice in the 1950s.
Detroit Free Press, March 26, 1993
September 5, 1958 – August 18, 1992
Birmingham resident Michael Connelly attended the Center for Creative Studies in Detroit and worked as a portrait artist. He died from AIDS-related complications at age 33.
Cruise, September 9, 1992