Introduction to 1421 Laveta Terrace

When Stuart came to reside at TOM House and enter into our informal artist in residence program, he had fairly defined ideas on what he wanted to achieve whilst in residence yet, not unlike many artists coming to terms with their own bailiwick of issues they have to contend with in being artistic, as days passed and as financial resources went down and not up Stuart started to display nervousness and uncertainty. We had several informal chats revolving around trusting the process and that there were larger forces at work here and the wise action was to get out of ones way. It was not long before it was evident that Stuart was in the flow of it, as opportunities started coming his way and his creative flow of ideas were springing up on a regular basis.

TOM House operates in a communal living style and for those who are not used to such there can be a definite attitude adjustment required to bring one in harmony with the house. I doubt if he would ever choose such living situations over more singular private scenarios. He at least can now say he knows what it’s all about!

Much like a symphony, he relaxed into living at TOM House and taking advantage of the vast archives both in books, art, and video and film. He had the brilliant idea to document his time here with assistance from the Impossible Project (the company who bought the last Polaroid film factory and who now manufactures Polaroid film under the Impossible Project brand and reconditioned Polaroid cameras) and with a steady beat he captured the house itself (a 104 year old Craftsman style house, considered to be the jewel in the crown of Laveta Terrace when it was built) alongside both the eclectic mix of humans visiting and residing within it and the cat and dog menagerie both resident and visiting, with the regular almost daily offering of tours, events, and visitors, using the amazing light offered up at the sunset of a winters day.

TOM House is more or less a cultural site, of which there are few such locations in the world that offer an ever growing collection of visual works that depict the expressions of the male homosexual (with a dash of everyone else for public opinion). I need to let you all know that homosexuals do not have many sites in the world that they can call theirs, this is one such place that has a wealth of visual creations that speak to the magic and power of such and as Stuart began going out and meeting new friends he would bring them for tours that he himself conducted through the House and gardens. I felt he owned this responsibility and thus It did not occur to me to stop him for I knew that he would communicate the essence of this place, no matter if he didn’t always know the name of the artist whose work was on the wall or not.

I was notably impressed upon standing back and observing Stuart’s involvements here, indulging in the varying environments of TOM House and the Tom of Finland Foundation, taking advantage of the abundant archive resources, and the actual physicality of the property. I started to view what was coming forth from him much like a small symphony that was being written through his actions and creations. There is an amazing harmony in the movements as separate entities were brought together by forces that, for descriptive purposes, can be described as the actual presence of TOM House. In- deed an individual gallerist, Edward Cella, and a fellow companion came to view Tom’s work and, in the process, met Stuart. This would lead to another movement, later in the symphony, which would see Edward purchase the series of Polaroids taken by Stuart thus leading to the book you currently hold in your hands and to another movement in the symphony.

Well as is the case with the amazing garden of artistic expressions the foundation house and grounds produce and grow, Stuart was a beam of sunshine to have on a daily basis at the TOM House. Full of rather individualized characteristics he had concerns of getting too involved in the house and being sidetracked in his work, to having a rather interesting relationship with spirits, no, not ghosts but the alcohol variety. No insult intended but you have to know a few Brits to understand! Well let’s put it this way if you are going to have a party make sure you invite some Brits then you and everyone else will have a good time, as was the case on New Year’s Eve when Stuart brought to TOM House his own caravan of attractive gypsy troop of young men who became completely at home and expanded out into the far reaches of the garden within minutes to bring in the new year and spread their good spirits into the ethos of the house.

Upon reading the above depiction you will, I hope, make your own journey over to TOM House
in Echo Park and when you do make sure you turn your eyes upward in the breakfast room where lies on the ceiling one more artistic presence of Mr. Sandford’s mark. He is a man that designs his life much alike a Johnny Appleseed spreading his insights and observations as he trots down that cobblestone pathway of his life. Please see his “end of term” discussion that is available on YouTube at TomOfFinlandsMen channel ...and, of course, enjoy this book. Although filled with photographs capturing both real and created/curated moments, Stuart prefers not to be type cast as a photogra- pher, and indeed nor a sculptor, but an artist free to use any medium to express his love of life.

Durk Dehner
Co-Founder and President, Tom of Finland Foundation Los Angeles
June 4th 2015

© 2015 Durk Dehner/Tom of Finland Foundation