By Holland Cotter
At times the fight for civil rights is a straight road pocked with speed bumps; at other times a maddening spiral of detours. It was a battlefield in the early hours of June 28, 1969, when a small group of gay, lesbian and transgender people, herded by police out of a Greenwich Village bar called the Stonewall Inn, just said no: shoved back; threw bricks, bottles, punches. As the police defensively barricaded themselves inside the bar, the fight — since variously termed a riot, an uprising, a rebellion — spread through the Village, then through the country, then through history.
It’s still spreading, expanding the way the term “gay” has expanded to include lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer and other categories of identity. And for this summer’s half-century Stonewall anniversary, substantial displays of art produced in the long wake of the uprising are filling some New York City museums and public spaces.
The largest of them is the two-part “Art After Stonewall, 1969-1989”shared by Grey Art Gallery, New York University, and the Leslie-Lohman Museum in Soho. A trio of small archival shows at the New-York Historical Society adds background depth to the story. And at the Brooklyn Museum, “Nobody Promised You Tomorrow: Art 50 Years After Stonewall,” 28 young queer and transgender artists, most born after 1980, carry the buzz of resistance into the present.