Artist, illustrator and sometime photographer, Michael Kirwan has come a long way from his childhood attending Catholic school while growing up in New York City’s Washington Heights District. In those days he spent most of his time sketching his own private worlds on paper bags from the local A&P because he couldn’t afford art supplies. And, when we say he’s ‘come a long way,’ we don’t just mean relocating cross country to Los Angeles with a protracted and influential detour through Miami’s South Beach… While Michael would be the first to tell you that no one gets rich illustrating porn, we’re pretty sure that, given his widely published and highly collectable works, he can now afford his own art supplies. But, the greatest testament to how far he’s come is that, these days, no one is going to mistake Michael’s work as that of a good Catholic school boy! His sexually explicit homoerotic illustrations would send the most progressive Mother Superior running for her rosary and probably a steel ruler for the artist!
We, however, do not share the good sister’s concerns. Instead, we would side with Michael’s own description of what he called his “randy little creations” in 2006 metroG interview. In the interview, the artist points out that it’s not his place to judge and takes great pride that the characters in his work are never debased, defamed or derided for being different. Instead, they are depicted as “horny, happy and human.” We couldn’t agree more!
Though Michael received no formal art training, his natural talent seems to have been enhanced and nurtured, along with his own emerging homoerotic sensibility, by an oddly fortuitous employment choice. In 1980, after a failed 5-year marriage, Michael fully embraced his new-found gay identity by taking a job at New York’s famous St. Mark’s Baths. It was here he learned to appreciate the diversity of gay men in all shapes, sizes, colors and sexual interests. And, from a technical stand point, it was here that he learned to memorized their physiques, gestures, poses and sexual positions till he could get it all down on paper. The results of his time at the baths are clearly reflected in his drawings. And, just as clearly, judging by the quality and distinctive style of Michael’s illustrations, it was time well spent!
Michael was first published by Stroke Magazine in 1984. Since then his illustrations have appeared in numerous national adult publications including Freshmen, Mandate, Honcho, Playguy, Inches, Advocate Men, Blueboy, Dude and Badpuppy, as well as dozens of lesser regional and local one. His work has also been exhibited in several major cities including New York, Portland, Miami and Los Angeles. And, Tom of Finland Foundation, in 2004, named Michael as Artist-of-the-Year.
Roosterfish will be displaying several of Michael’s homoerotic works through the end of October, so please come down and check them out. You can view or purchase numerous additional pieces on his website at www.KirwanArts.com or visit him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/KirwanArts.