New 17-Gallery Art Exhibit Celebrates 50th Anniversary of Detroit Pride

‘Mighty Real/Queer Detroit’ features the work of more than 150 local LGBTQ+ artists
Sweet Child Asha We Still Sing You Lullabies - Anthony Smith Jr.
“Sweet Child Asha We Still Sing You Lullabies” by Anthony Smith Jr. is one of many works included in the Mighty Real/Queer Detroit exhibit. // Photograph courtesy of Mighty Real/Queer Detroit

The first Detroit Pride march was held in 1972. In celebration of its 50th anniversary, the nonprofit group Mighty Real/Queer Detroit is partnering with the City of Detroit Office Arts, Culture, and Entrepreneurship to host a month-long exhibition and public programming this June. The exhibit — which is also named Mighty Real/Queer Detroit — will span 17 galleries and feature work by more than 150 local LGBTQ+ artists. It is said to be the largest exhibition of its kind in the country.

“Today is such an opportune moment for all Detroiters to just be present for queer art,” says Adriel Thornton, program director of Mighty Real/Queer Detroit, in a press release. “Given the temperature of rights and respect we’ve been fighting for years, it is more critical than ever to figuratively ‘bust out the closet,’ maybe even throw the closet away. A showcase of hundreds of works of art that tell intimate and often unheard Detroit narratives, is something I think we can all celebrate.”

Mighty Real/Queer Detroit will explore queer art and life from 1945 to today and highlight emerging, established, and deceased LGBTQ+ artists. Figurative painter and mixed media installation artist Mieyoshi Ragenoir, multi-disciplinary and hyperrealist artist Bakpak Durden, photographer Paula Allen, visual artist and jazz vocalist Stephanie Crawford, abstract narrative painter Anthony Smith Jr., and figurative artist Tylonn J. Sawyer are just a few of the many creatives participating in the show.

Havana, Yami, November 1999 - Paula Allen
“Havana, Yami, November 1999” by photographer Paula Allen will also be on display. // Photograph courtesy of Mighty Real/Queer Detroit

Starting this week, work will be on display at venues such as Affirmations in Ferndale, College for Creative Studies in Detroit, David Klein Gallery in Birmingham, Norwest Gallery in Detroit, and Anton Art Center in Mt. Clemens. Events — including a June 7 artist talk with Stephanie Crawford and June 22 Juneteenth Poetry Reading with Tommy Blount, Deidre D.S.Sense Smith, Mars Marshall, and Lester Rambus — are scheduled at Collected Detroit, Metropolitan Museum of Design Detroit, Scarab Club, Detroit Artist Market, Galerie Camille, Hatch Detroit, and N’Namdi Center for Contemporary Art.

A kickoff reception will be held tonight to mark the opening of Mighty Real/Queer Detroit. Taking place at Menjos, located at 928 W. McNichols Road in Detroit, the event will include an artist reception from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. and a celebration from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. DJ Kai Alcé will be playing soulful dance music.

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