Two of the most prominent LGBT organizations in South Florida—ArtsUnited and The Pride Center—have established a new exhibition space, Room 206 Gallery, on the second floor of The Pride Center in Wilton Manors. The gallery features the work of LGBT artists from South Florida. Admission is free and it is open to the public.
“This collaboration is a win-win for the community,” said Chief Operating Officer of The Pride Center Kristofer Fegenbush in a comment to SFGN via email. “We love working with ArtsUnited. They’re a true community leader in incubating, promoting, organizing and showing local LGBTQ artists.”
ArtsUnited is a local nonprofit that has supported artists within the LGBT community since 1999. The organization has given local LGBT artists the opportunity to share their work at annual events such as United & Proud, an annual art show during Pride month in June, as well as Art Explosion.
This alliance between ArtsUnited and The Pride Center seems like a natural progression since they have often worked together to offer engaging exhibits to the community such as the recent Marriage Equality exhibit in September, “We Do, Too,” which displayed wedding photographs of same-sex couples.
“Our relationship with The Pride Center started three years ago with the United & Proud show,” said ArtsUnited President Peter Meyerhoefer in an email to SFGN. “The show had been held at Gallery 6 at the downtown Broward Library. But due to budget cuts during the downturn, the library hours were cut, which affected the ability for us to produce the show we wanted. So we started looking for a new venue. We found it at the Pride Center.”
According to a member of the ArtsUnited Board of Directors, Steven Shires, the initiative to establish an actual gallery at The Pride Center came later in 2012. At the time, Stonewall National Museum & Archives had cancelled an ArtsUnited photography exhibit by Jeff Larson, “Men in Living Rooms,” which showed men in their home environments—some semi-dressed in leatherwear, others not dressed at all (albeit the men who are naked are not completely exposed).
In an email interview with SFGN, Shires, who is also a photographer, discussed how his perspective motivated him to create a new exhibition plan for ArtsUnited.
“I proposed to the Board of Directors… we should consider approaching The Pride Center for gallery space after there had been an issue of censure with and by Stonewall,” Shires said. “I personally did not feel the censure was warranted, and I felt it defeated our purpose of showcasing talented LGBT artists.”
Shires and another member of the Board of Directors, Guy Le Houx, made the proposal to The Pride Center, and commenced the process towards establishing the ArtsUnited Room 206 Gallery.
In August 2013, ArtsUnited opened their inaugural exhibit in Room 206 which stayed on display until September 14. According to Shires, the untitled show highlighted artists who had previously displayed their work with ArtsUnited, particularly those who participated in Art Explosion.
Currently on display until October 26 is Snap Shots, a photography show that features twelve artists including Shires and the aforementioned Jeff Larson. Other artists are Jane Kreinberg, Michael Mills, Timothy Leistner, Ken Merrifield, Sharon Demarest, Stephen Kuttner, Ken Harrison, Dennis Dean, Toby Blades, and Kathy Kafka.
The opening reception for Snap Shots is scheduled for Wednesday, October 23 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Although there are no November exhibits, Shires provided information about upcoming shows. He shared that each exhibit will last for two months, and December’s show, Brush Strokes, will feature paintings. ArtsUnited plans to have other themed exhibits with titles such as Mixed Media, Earth/Green Day, and Anything Goes. Snap Shots is also scheduled to return next year. Artists who are interested in exhibiting their work can contact ArtsUnited.
When asked about what it means to have a resource such as ArtsUnited, Shires responded: “Joining this group has…afforded me an avenue to express myself. I am able to help other artists…to showcase their work…I was honored to have been asked a few years ago to join the board. And the longer I serve, the more I hope to see, and have seen, our efforts grow—and our artists benefit…This is joy.”
ArtsUnited and The Pride Center present Snap Shots Photography Exhibit
On Display until Saturday, October 26, 2013
Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
6 p.m. – 8 p.m.
The Pride Center
Room 206 Gallery, 2nd Floor
2040 North Dixie Highway
Wilton Manors, FL