Beyond The Bar: June 6 Motor City Pride Kickoff Showcases Local Graphic Arts And More

The ad created by GM for BTL 2012 Pride edition that took off virally around the globe. BTL file photo: Crystal Proxmire.

Don't you love when little celebrations make it big? That's what happened to Beyond the Bar, the premiere Motor City Pride kick-off event taking place at Start Gallery, 206 E. Grand River, Detroit on June 6 at 7 p.m.
Beyond the Bar: An LGBT Art and Design showcase started out three years ago as a small, one-day showing where members of the design profession who happened to be LGBT could come together and celebrate their work.
The title Beyond the Bar comes from creator Alexander Harvilla. "I get tired of people thinking that gay people are all about going to the bar, and the stereotypes of the work we do. There are gay people in every profession. This is all about art first, LGBT second," Harvilla said.
This year it's the opening night event for Motor City Pride, complete with art, appetizers, beer and wine and music by DJ Lena. Art will be auctioned off for the benefit of the Ruth Ellis Center, and entrance to the party is just a recommended donation of $5.
The first year featured 14 design projects. This year there are over 70.
"This year, thanks to one of our event partners 'The AdCraft Club of Detroit,' some of the local area's largest ad agencies are contributing work that contained the involvement of an LGBT individual. Knowing that the local advertising community is so supportive of the growth/relevance with the careers of their LGBT employees is amazing and truly encompasses what this show is about. I don't want to ruin the surprise of what larger campaigns we may recognize, but it's pretty amazing," Harvilla said.
"My absolute favorite aspect of the show is that every year, I hear attendees gush over recognizable work. The fact that attendees have these real, 'wow' moments not only illustrate the importance of the LGBT community, but also showcase the acceptance, tolerance, diversity and strength of the Detroit community as a whole.
"We all know that stereotypes exist everywhere and the LGBT community is not immune. Going through school and college, I noticed that many people would stereotype the career choices of LGBT individuals and assume we were all confined to one area of thinking. There are many different methods to debunk stereotypes. With this show, we used this simple approach: 'instead of telling people we are a diverse community of professionals, let's show them,'" said Harvilla.
"What I also love about this showcase is that it debunks the stereotypes behind Metro Detroit as well," he continued. "So many think that we live in a depressed, ruined community. Beyond the Bar takes a stand with the local creative community and showcases an even broader message around the creative energy and accomplishments of the Metro Detroit Area."
Among the exhibits are pieces by well-known local artists and designers. David Wysocki, creative director at Doner Advertising, has pieces showcased for brands that people will likely recognize. Chris Gorski of Detroit GT started his own, local Detroit T-shirt company and has done a lot of graphic design work.
Harvilla is pleased to recognize the work of Lorenzo King for the third year in a row. "During the first showcase, Lorenzo had just graduated college and displayed his student work. This year, he is displaying many of his professional pieces. I think it is amazing to notice how much he has grown as a designer over the span of this showcase, and have hopes that Beyond the Bar had an influence with his growth," Harvilla said.
AIGA Detroit and other partners like The Detroit Design Festival, the AdCraft Club of Detroit, Between The Lines, Motor City Pride, Wink Detroit and Ruth Ellis Center, are making the Beyond the Bar opening possible. Learn more at


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