Known for its biennial ArtPrize competition, Grand Rapids has long been considered a hub for Michigan artists who get to display their work across the city during the 19-day event. However, as prolific as many of the competitors are, artwork from LGBTQ creators isn’t a direct focus, that’s why The Apartment Lounge, a Grand Rapids gay bar, is putting on Art Show this coming June.
“Art show is an outlet and market for LGBTQIA artists to sell and share their works with our community in Grand Rapids,” wrote event organizers. “We found that there wasn’t a large-scale event for our community to be represented and celebrated with their art. There are more and more people in our community that are identifying as queer and with that come many things: A grand culture filled with diversity and inclusivity, stemming from the vein of acceptance. But most importantly, to say ‘We’re here!’”
Though the show’s official date is Sunday, June 9, applications are being accepted now, with a deadline for submissions of May 5. Eric Zuniga is the General Manager of The Apartment Lounge. He said that besides paying the $50 application fee, submitting artists should be aware of two rules:
1.) All work must be original and produced by the artist.
2.) Artwork displayed must reflect the category for which the artist applied.
“It’s got to go hand-in-hand with what you’re applying to present,” he said. The art won’t be accepted if you say that you have oil paintings and you show up with papier mache dolls. When asked why this year was chosen for the Lounge’s inaugural Art Show, Zuniga said that it’s been in the works for a long time, but 2019 felt right.
“We’ve thought about doing it for quite some time, [but] we didn’t really have the resources as far as personal connections,” he said. “And people in our community that could help us out with the planning process and actually getting the correct wording out and getting people that have actually been participating in art shows before, so that we could actually use that as a skeleton for our event.”
He said one of the most rewarding parts of putting on a show like this is because it’s allowed him to not only form closer relationships with the regular clientele at The Apartment Lounge, but with the Grand Rapids art community.
“The [pieces] we’ve gotten here have actually been cool,” he said. “Because I am the GM here at the Apartment Lounge, I see a lot of these people [that], unbeknownst to me, they’re actually artists. So, when the work comes in, it’s really cool; it’s kind of a little window into looking past people as patrons and now seeing them as artists in our community. It’s very eye-opening what they’re sharing and what they want to share at our art show that’s coming up.”
The free event will involve shutting down the streets in front of the bar, from Sheldon Avenue NE and Fulton Street E, to allow for artist’s booths and “we’ll have a food truck, a little bar with White Claw and some beers, and we’ll also have free water stations to make sure people are staying hydrated.”
Zuniga said that what he’s most excited for on the day is to expose the local community to the talent of LGBTQ creators and to bring them closer together, too.
“I just haven’t seen a big venue that is mainly focused on LGBTQIA, so that was kind of our whole thought process going into this like, ‘What can we do? How can we create a space for people in our community to be able to share their work?’”
To apply to present artwork in the upcoming event visit The Apartment Lounge’s Facebook or email [email protected] with any questions. The Apartment Lounge is located at 33 Sheldon Ave NE in Grand Rapids.