Exhibition a demonstration of how Pride is more than a party

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The 26th Pride London Art Show will show art from all over the world that interrogates their creators, as well as their viewers, asking them to question the past, present and societal norms.

The show, one of the longest-running Pride events in North America, features a range of art from paintings to decorated gourds and aims to prove Pride London is more than just a big party celebrating how far people have come socially.

“It’s an exploration of our cultural contributions,” said R. Bruce Flowers, the curator of the show, which opens Thursday. “We’re saying, look at the artistry and artistic innovations we’re making . . . what we’re giving to society.”

This year, 70 artists and of 168 pieces from places like Tel Aviv, Israel to Thunder Bay were submitted to the exhibition.

Ninety works were selected to be in the show.

Flowers, who founded the show, has been curating it since its inception in 1992 and swears that this will be his last year doing it in order to make way for a new vision. However, his spirit hasn’t been dampened by the finality of this year.

Excitedly, Flowers explained the uniqueness of each piece and the intersectionality of culture, the natural world and the personal life of many of the artists.

One of the pieces, called 2 Spirit Bear by Michel Dumont, explores the connection between modern day Pride culture and the artist’s roots in ancient Ojibwa culture. A bear head, which was molded for taxidermists, is covered in mosaic tile in Pride colours and features a bear claw mark on its chest, similar to a bear claw tattoo on the artist’s chest.

Other interesting sculptures at the exhibit are Jane Hook’s WANNABEs: Portraits of an Imagined History. These small, bronze cast figurines take a look at opposites such as past and present, fantasy and reality and young and old. They ask people the common yet underappreciated question, “what did you want to be when you were a child?”

One of the sculptures, called Leslie/Elvis: Psychotherapist, unsung hero, interpreter of the life song and challenger to social norms, is of a female Elvis Presley with hair slicked back and blue suede shoes on. The individual figured is a lesbian who grew up wanting to be this rockabilly star.

Another one, called Dr. A.M./Superman: Naturopath and fighter of social ills, shows Superman—legs shoulder-width apart and hands on his hips—but instead of the picturesque face of Christopher Reeves, it has the face of an old man who, in reality, grew up to be a doctor.

A Renaissance-style portrait, painted by James MacDougall called Alessio, puts a twist on female nude tradition in art. Just like a female nude painted by Giorgione, Titian or Renoir, a male is posed, naked, calm and unperturbed by the invasive, anonymous gaze.

Flowers said that some of the art forces “straight people to enter a queer aesthetic” to understand the work which, while sometimes uncomfortable, is necessary to comprehend different perspectives.

The art will be juried and awarded prizes for juror’s choice and people’s choice—which visitors can enter a ballot for. Jurors include Fanshawe College fine art professor Marla Botterill, Strand Fine Art Services’s Andrew Smyth and educator and founder of the London Artists’ Studio Tour, Kevin Bice.

Artists include Rick Mann, Candy McManiman, Margaret Rossiter, Blue Alexander, Jane Hook. Michel Dumont, James MacDougall, Richard Hudler and more.

Each unique piece has viewers take a second look at the world around them and ask questions not just about LGBTQ life but about society in general.




What: 26th Annual Pride London

Art Show

Where: The ARTS Project, 203 Dundas St.

When: Through July 30, opening night Thursday, 7-10 p.m., site is open Tuesday-Sunday, 12-5 p.m. and July 30, 12-4 p.m.

Other Pride highlights

Drag Queen Story Time: Saturday, 2 p.m., Central Children’s Library, 251 Dundas St.,

RBC Run with Pride: Sunday, 9 a.m., Wonderland Gardens, 285 Wonderland Rd. S.

Pride Spotlight Party: Circus, featuring Roxxxy Andrews from RuPaul’s Drag Race, July 29, 9 p.m., DoubleTree by Hilton, 300 King St.

Outdoor Festival: July 28-30, Victoria Park

Pride Parade: July 30, 12:30 p.m., along Queens Avenue

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