Letters Home from the Vietnam War: Herbert Lotz in conversation with Gregory Hinton

September 16, 2017 03:00 PM
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04:00 PM
New Mexico History Museum

On Saturday, September 16 at 3:00 the New Mexico History Museum will present Letters Home from the Vietnam War: Herbert Lotz in conversation with Gregory Hinton in conjunction with the Lotz photography exhibit Sleeping During the Day: Vietnam 1968; in honor of Santa Fe Gay Pride weekend.

The evocative photographs Herbert Lotz exhibits in Sleeping During the Day offer a rare glimpse into the perspective of a gay soldier when homosexuals were forbidden to serve openly in the United States armed forces.  Also on display are personal letters home from the war, which Lotz made available to historian Gregory Hinton in the planning stages of this exhibition. Following an overview of LGBTQ military service from Vietnam to present day, Hinton will read excerpts from selected letters in conversation with Herb Lotz.  Hinton is a writer, filmmaker, and producer of Out West, a national museum program series dedicated to shining a light on LGBTQ history and culture in the American West.

There is no shortage of photographs documenting the horrors of the Vietnam War. In fact, between military photographers and the free press, millions of photographs of the Vietnam conflict were taken between 1962 and 1975. But, there are very few that document the war from the perspective of a young gay man serving in the United States Army. The New Mexico History Museum will display this unique perspective through the photographs of Santa Fean Herbert Lotz, acquired through the museum’s Photo Legacy Project in 2008. The exhibition, Sleeping During the Day: Vietnam 1968, will run from April 7 to October 1, 2017.

Against the backdrop of the Vietnam war, the photographs of Herbert Lotz humanize the men who served amidst the rising disillusionment that became the rallying point for the emerging counter-culture movement. As a gay man, his perspective of life on an Army base was the same as any other soldier doing his job, only Lotz documented it with his camera and poignant letters home.

Of the exhibition, Herbert Lotz says, “I have wanted to show these photographs for some time, I’m so grateful to the archives and history museum for the opportunity to show them.  It feels as if I can close a chapter of my work".

Born and raised on a small farm town in Illinois, Herbert Lotz was drafted in his third year at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where he studied photography. He served as a radio operator in Vietnam in 1968 detached to the 25th Infantry Division at Cu Chi, the experience of which was to affect him the rest of his life, not unlike so many others of his generation. Lotz moved to Santa Fe in January 1970 unable to reenter his life in Chicago. Driving into Santa Fe from the north passing by the National Cemetery, Lotz felt he had found his new home but still struggled to deal with his wartime experiences. Unlike contemporary society’s view of military veterans, Vietnam vets were scorned and marginalized to the point most hid their service, suffering in silence. In 1981, Lotz finally came to terms with his experience and continues to work with the photographs he took in Vietnam.

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