For over twenty years Donna Nadeau has been photographing and painting backstage scenes, her co-dancers, and the men who paid to see them, in the strip bars and “gentleman’s” clubs in which she worked, from Maine to Las Vegas, beginning in 1980. Her intention was to document an extraordinary world—its colorful habitués, front-line gendered power structures, and sometimes harrowing psychologies—from the unheard perspective of the women around whom the entire cavalcade still revolves. With exquisite subtleties of form and palette Nadeau endows her watercolors with the atmospherics of these usually obscured environments, and their physical and social architectures—from drab backrooms to glittering, mirrored stages; destructive relationships, underworld dangers, and the financial pursuit that keeps the industry in tension. The artist’s own experiences are embedded in the vignettes she depicts, imbuing them with authenticity, humor, and stirring emotive impact. These paintings and the fascinating stories that inspired them are pointedly relevant to today’s cultural discourse, although they have remained largely unseen in the decades since Nadeau began making them—until now.
sponsored by Venter Surf & Sport