Queen Anne's March by Brian O'Neill - 8 x 10 inches Signed
Brian O'Neill
B. 1969

Queen Anne's March

Oil on masonite
8 x 10 inches

What makes a man? What makes a woman? How has society through the ages defined these roles? The obvious answers come quickly, however, as a gay man and artist who grew up in the shadow of NYC on Long Island and ‘came out’ well before the Will & Grace years, I have personally experienced what men are expected to be when I knew it wasn’t so black and white. Men are not always beer swilling, hammer swinging, axe wielding hunter gathers, nor do they need to be. Furthermore, the ideals and expectations placed upon women as symbols of beauty, pure virgins, delicate and helpless without a strong man to show them the way is a societal construct that is outdated, unrealistic and simply wrong.

I saw the theme of Sexes as an opportunity to explore and express that strong and soft, masculine and feminine exist in both men and women. The most evolved men I know can feel a feeling shed a tear and nourish a child. The powerful women I am honored to call friends and relatives claim their space; ask for what they want and deserve without guilt or hesitation, nor do they shrink in the shadow of a man.

My two paintings illustrate all of these qualities by depicting the same woman in the same beautiful field. In one she is soft, quiet, pensive and seemingly submissive given her posture, color of clothing and body language. The second clearly shows that she is not that simple and refuses to be defined by what you need her to be in order to feel safe and comfortable. She rises, wears bold colors, marches on and does not apologize for what she needs. The ‘she’ can easily be the ‘he’ and we all make choices through color, body language to project strong, demure, bold or passive depending on our life experiences and goals as we become who we truly are and deny what others need or require us to be so that we can stand in our own personal truth.

Brian O'Neill
Rehs Contemporary Galleries, Inc., New York City