In honor of the centennial of artist Tom of Finland’s birth and his titular foundation’s 36th anniversary, winners were announced in the 10th Tom of Finland Emerging Artist Competition.
The annual competition — intended to encourage artists to share erotic work — is open to any non-commercial artist. This year’s prize went to New Zealand’s Mr. Gruts for “Country Club,” with his victory announced during the online Arts & Culture Festival. The selection was made by a panel of judges comprised of Jonathan Anderson, Seth Bogart, Nao Bustamante, Matt Lambert, Felipe Meres, Silvia Prada, Martin Sorrondeguy (Martin Crudo), and Russell Tovey and Robert Diament.
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Several LGBTQ+ icons were also honored during the ceremony: They included filmmaker, photographer, writer, and artist Bruce LaBruce (Artist Hall of Fame); performance artist Annie Sprinkle (Lifetime Achievement Award); and columnist Dan Savage (Cultural Icon).
“Like Tom, in a way, my work has always been very sexually explicit,” Savage said in a recorded acceptance speech. “I’ve always tried to meet people where they are and have an honest and fun and playful and explicit conversation about sex. [And] to see the work that the Tom of Finland Foundation has done since it branched out from the important job of preserving and promoting Tom’s work to promoting and helping to create works by queer artists is really inspiring.”