koitz at the Community House in Cherry Grove

  It was kind of a shame that the koitz photo exhibition at the Cherry Grove Community House Theatre was only on display for two days, yet it forced me to board a water taxi because I would not have missed it for the world.“‘It’s Good to Be Us’ Photographs of Gay Fire Island by koitz,” curated by Parker Sargent, was on display over the weekend of July 17, and was a simple grouping of only about 15 images or so – but to see his work in a large scale format was a powerful experience.Although this was the first time I was meeting the artist in person, we embraced like old friends. We have a history together after all, only a few weeks ago I was temporarily banned from Facebook for sharing one of his photos. We shared a good laugh about that.First he introduced me to his husband, Doug; then Parker who was a picture of grace in her elegant black dress and sapphire stud earrings; finally there was the APCG Homecoming Queen herself Davida Jones – who lit up the room with her presence – quite literally!“Only one of the images in this exhibit was featured in his book,” Parker said to me. However what an image it was. “From the Ashes” is a haunting photo taken in the Meat Rack, which was the stuff of a Grimm Brothers fairy tale. This image took center stage in the exhibition. Beside it was another erotic image called “Dennis Banly on the Boardwalk,” bathed in natural light. On the opposite wall “Feeling the Blessings.” Taken in 2011, it had a healthy dose of humor with men dressed as nuns on Holly Walk in Cherry Grove.However one week later as I write this article, the image that has most stayed with me was simply titled “Invasion 2020.” It was an up skirt shot of the COVID Destroyers doing their act in matching white sundresses with a cherry print on them. The Invasion was canceled last summer due to the pandemic, but a scaled down celebration was held for the benefit of local residents, an event some say was reminiscent of the early Invasions in the 1970s. Those layers of complexity and context made this photograph much more than a pretty picture.I was honored when koitz gifted me a copy of his book, “Gay Fire Island.” Only seeing the book in promotional literature when it was published last year, I expected a smallish paperback kind of thing. Imagine my surprise when he put that weighty hardcover tome in my hands! No expense was spared in the production of this luscious volume bound with heavy paper that did justice to the color plates that illuminated its pages.koitz is a master technician – like a symphony composer he works waves of light, shadow and color in ways that is sure to touch all audiences.Visit gaypinkbook.com if interested in purchasing “Gay Fire Island.”Follow koitz on Instagram at @koitznyc