The year 2017 was one of unprecedented growth for the Bob Mizer Foundation. Exactly a quarter of a century after Mizer's death, the organization that bears his name relaunched the celebrated quarterly Physique Pictorial; began a move across the bay from El Cerrito, Calif., to its new headquarters in downtown San Francisco; launched a video streaming website that features an array of Mizer's short films; and oversaw a successful Kickstarter campaign, among other accomplishments.
But if 2017 was a year whose success could be measured in sheer volume of projects initiated, 2018 will be a year of taking those projects and fine tuning them. Here's what we're looking forward to in 2018 so far:
The second year of a new Physique Pictorial ... well, sort of
Foundation President and CEO Dennis Bell continued the printed legacy of Mizer's flagship beefcake magazine, Physique Pictorial, in August. Though it was the first issue printed in 27 years, Bell says he's hesitant to call the 2017 issues 'new.'
"These issues build upon what Bob started in 1951. This isn't a new publication, but a relaunch," he explained. "This is a quarterly magazine that features images from Mizer's era that have never been seen before, but we also feature profiles of more contemporary male physique and experimental photographers."
The autumn 2017 issue, printed on heavy paper and rich in photos both old and new, was individually numbered and signed by Bell. Orders for the inaugural issue have come in from around the world. The winter issue built upon the success of the previous edition, expanding to a full 100 pages, many of which featuring full-color images.
"We're already hard at work on the spring 2018 issue, and while it's a bit early to discuss its contents, I can tell you that we've received so many messages of support and positive feedback from those who have read our first two issues. We plan to use that input in our publication as it evolves over the course of the year."
The big move across the Bay
With the Foundation's acquisition of the building at 920 Larkin St. in downtown San Francisco, a new chapter in the organization's growth began this year. By the end of 2018, Bell says, the Foundation hopes to occupy the entire third floor of the building that currently houses The Magazine.
"We eventually will turn the first floor into a big, open gallery space, where we'll display some of Bob's works, as well as exhibit the works of other photographers," he explains. "The upper floors will house our archives and a space where scholars and students can browse our effects for use in their research. We're most excited about that -- being able to open up our headquarters for the entire community to enjoy and to study."
Bell and other Foundation staffers and volunteers have already moved into two rooms on the building's third floor, where they archive boxes of slides and catalog books to be included in the organization's library.
Everything in its place
Another project Bell says he hopes will be finished by the conclusion of 2018 is the archiving of 500 boxes of Mizer's beefcake slides.
"We have some folks who assist in this venture, and it has taken us a long time to even get down to 500 remaining boxes," notes Keith Foote, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. "The archiving process is a long process but an extremely important one, and the area in which we have the greatest need for volunteers."
Many of Mizer's materials were almost lost, unceremoniously discarded in a dumpster upon his death. Bell, who worked for months to purchase Mizer's estate, says that in the years since the artist's slides, images, films, props, and other personal effects were rescued from destruction, Foundation staff members continue to piece together the empire of the father of modern beefcake photography.
"Bob had a very specific way that he archived and filed his own works, and so our mission continues to treat them with the care they deserve," Foote says. "We hope to be able to finish archiving his remaining slides in 2018, but in all honesty, we're happy to work as long as it takes. None of us here at the Foundation would be so immersed in this work if we didn't wholeheartedly believe in the mission of Bob Mizer and the Athletic Model Guild."