Abe Lincoln was many things: impressively tall, our nation's 16th president, the great emancipator...but, gay? During New Orleans-based artist Skylar Fein's exhibit The Lincoln Bedroom at Chelsea's C24 Gallery, the question of Lincoln's sexuality is played with, raising a titilating (and punny) question: Was Abraham Lincoln a Log Cabin Republican?
It sounds like a wild, unfounded notion, right? But, believe it or not, historians have been asking this very questions for years. While most of these musings are based on conjecture, there is a (fairly shaky) foundation to the rumors. In the 1830s, Lincoln shared a single bedroom (and, presumptively, a bed) with a man named Joshua Speed in Springfield, IL. In this small fact, Fein found inspiration for his show. He has masterfully recreated this mysterious bedroom, combining historical fact with fantastical imagination (and, perhaps, wishful thinking) to give viewers a glimpse into a shadowy part of a great man's past. Suggestive details as to Speed and Lincoln's sexual relationship, designed by Fein, are sprinkled throughout. And he pursued every detail—from the straw-stuffed mattress to décor and furnishings to the faint smell of hay and tobacco upon entry.
They say the man never told a lie. If honest Abe were here today, we could just ask him. Because he's not, why not take it from an artist?
>>The Lincoln Bedroom, Nov.1 thru Dec. 21, C24 Gallery, 514 W. 24th St., 646.413.6300