DC Arts Center Presents Josh Tetzlaff Gaze Upon Gays

By Editorial Team on June 5, 2023

Fri, May 26 2023 — Sun, June 25 2023

Shirts Off #5 by Josh Tetzlaff
Artist Talk: Sunday, June 11 at 3pm
Closing Reception: Sunday, June 25 at 6pm

The DC Arts Center is excited to announce the upcoming exhibition, Gaze Upon Gays, featuring the work of artist Josh Tetzlaff. In his debut solo exhibition in the District of Columbia, Tetzlaff showcases a collection of homoerotic and optical art. This remarkable collection delves deep into Tetzlaff’s journey of self-discovery, examining the profound influence of societal constructs of masculinity on his own sexuality.

Tetzlaff utilizes painting, printmaking, and installation to comment on the changing perceptions of male beauty and encourages viewers to question their own insecurities and expectations surrounding gender norms. By subverting traditional notions of masculinity and manipulating the viewer’s gaze, Tetzlaff invites contemplation of the diversity and beauty of the male form.

According to Tetzlaff, his art engages with the “gay gaze” in conversation with the heteronormative fear of being “turned” gay. His practice has two lines of inquiry: queer espionage, which allows queer imagery to be seen without someone knowing they are looking at something queer, and optical illusions, exploring what happens between the eye and brain, allowing the viewer to activate the image within a mental paradox.

As Curator Jerry Truong explains, “Josh Tetzlaff’s art is a provocative and powerful expression of the artist’s personal journey towards self-acceptance and empowerment. His work is a celebration of masculinity and an exploration of its complexities and contradictions.”

“As we celebrate Pride Month, it’s important to remember the profound significance of queer art and visibility,” said Executive Director Sean Elias. “Through the power of Josh’s work, we not only honor the diverse experiences and narratives of the LGBTQ+ community, but we also forge paths of acceptance, understanding, and celebration. Queer art ignites conversations, challenges norms, and ultimately helps create a world where everyone can live authentically and unapologetically. The DC Arts Center is proud to hold space for diverse artists during Pride month and every month of the year.”

Josh Evans Tetzlaff is an artist working in painting, printmaking, and sculpture. His artwork focuses on exploring themes related to gay identity, utilizing optical illusions to challenge stereotypes and debunk the notion that homosexuality can be influenced by external factors. Tetzlaff obtained his BFA from Austin Peay State University in 2016 and recently completed his MFA in Studio Art at American University in 2023.

His work has been showcased in numerous solo exhibitions held in various locations, including Clarksville, Nashville, and Johnson City, Tennessee, as well as Spokane, Washington, and Syracuse, New York. Additionally, he has actively participated in group exhibitions at esteemed venues such as the American University Museum in Washington, DC, the Portico Gallery in Brentwood, MD, and the Touchstone Gallery in Washington, DC.


  • Artist Talk: Sunday, June 11, 2023, at 3:00 PM
  • Closing Reception: Sunday, June 25, 2023, at 6:00 PM
    Free. Light refreshments and beverages provided.

Gaze Upon Gays by Josh Tetzlaff
Curated by Jerry Truong
May 26 – June 25, 2023
Wednesday – Sunday, 2:00 PM – 7:00 PM

Join the discussion about The DC Arts Center’s new exhibitions online at: #dcartscenter Instagram: @dcartscenter Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dcartscenter

The DC Arts Center (DCAC) is the only institution solely dedicated to fostering underrepresented artists in the greater Washington, D.C., area. We believe that by encouraging artists of all types and all levels to pursue their passion, community transformation is possible. Located in the heart of Washington, D.C.’s vibrant Adams Morgan neighborhood, DCAC operates a small arts facility that includes two art galleries, a 41-seat black box theater, and office space. Founded in 1989 as an accessible alternative arts center in response to eroding support for local artists, DCAC has since become a hub of creativity in the visual and performing arts, receiving local, national, and international attention. Artists of all types, including poets, painters, actors, storytellers, sculptors, and performance artists, have been drawn to DCAC from as close as around the corner to as far as from other continents.

The DC Arts Center is located at 2438 18th Street NW.