Category Archives: William Way LGBT Community Center

Drag

DRAG IN PHILADELPHIA: THE BOLD, THE BEAUTIFUL & THE BRUNCH
The Citywide Special—a shot of Jim Beam and a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon for $4 ($3 during happy hour)—may have originated at this beloved dive, but it’s only a part of what makes Bob & Barbara’s Lounge so fun. Thursday brings the drag show, Friday and Saturday nights feature live jazz, and karaoke ends the weekend on Sunday.
 
Credit: Photo by A. Ricketts for VISIT PHILADELPHIA®

DRAG IN PHILADELPHIA: THE BOLD, THE BEAUTIFUL & THE BRUNCH

Philly Drag History, Current Shows & Queens To Follow

PHILADELPHIA, March 26, 2019 – Philadelphia’s drag scene dates back centuries—and thrives to this day. Contemporary Philly drag queens most often perform in the bars and clubs of the Gayborhood, part of Center City’s Washington Square West neighborhood. But a growing number of venues beyond the neighborhood host drag brunches, game nights, variety shows and kids’ story times.

Philadelphia men have been costuming in ruffles and feathers since the 1600s, when Swedish immigrants began a raucous New Year’s tradition that, in 1901, officially became the Mummers Parade. Modern Mummers’ costumes are bold, bright, sequined—and blue collar. Women were permitted to join their ranks in the 1980s. In 2012, the Philly Drag Mafia became the first official queens to strut in the parade.

The city’s drag nightlife dates to at least to the 1950s, when the The New Forrest Lounge—now The Bike Stop, in the Gayborhood—required reservations for drag shows such as The Fabulous Fakes. Other drag hotspots Miss P’s at 18th and Lombard streets and ’90s dance club Shampoo helped broaden the audience for local drag culture, while dive bar Bob & Barbara’s emerged as a once-a-week base for performers.

Today, drag personalities replete with tongue-in-cheek names and spectacular style make their marks at nearly every queer bar in the Gayborhood, including Tabu Lounge & Sports Bar andVoyeur Nightclub, known for hosting frequent performances by both top-tier local talent up to nationally known queens from “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”So-called straight scenes that have gotten into the act include Northern Liberties’ Bourbon and Branch and Fishtown comedy club Punch Line Philly, hosts of brunch-time drag shows. There’s also a growing trend of drag queen story times, where queens read books aloud to rooms full of little ones.

Drag Shows:

  • Bob & Barbara’s – The South Street dive is as loved for its shot-and-a-beer special as it is for Miss Lisa Lisa, the teasing, raucous host of the bar’s Thursday night drag show. With a diverse rotating cast of new and seasoned queens, the event has the distinction of being the longest-running drag show in Philadelphia. 1509 South Street, (215) 545-4511,bobandbarbaras.com
  • Boxers PHL  Iris Spectre and VinChelle perform in a Gayborhood sports bar on Turn Out Tuesdays. Their variety show features local talent, tunes from DJ Drootrax and cocktails made with Philly-based Stateside vodka. Iris also hosts a live “RuPaul’s Drag Race” viewing party here. 1330 Walnut Street, (215) 735-2977, boxersphl.com
  • Franky Bradley’s – The Gayborhood’s self-described “house of weird,” presents Farrah Thorne’s Get Hype showcase on the third Wednesday of every other month and hosts drag-boosted burlesque performance Honeygasm on the first Sunday of every month. The shows take place upstairs in an area complete with a corner stage and modern sound system, all bolstered by a funky ’70s-hippie vibe. 1320 Chancellor Street, (215) 735-0735, frankybradleys.com
  • FringeArts – This performing arts venue attached to brasserie La Peg presents queer cabaret Get Pegged about once per month fall through winter. The Bearded Ladies Cabaret founder John Jarboe hosts the series, which features diverse queer musical and burlesque artists from Philly and beyond. The venue also hosts a variety of drag shows as part of the fall Fringe Festival. 140 N. Christopher Columbus Boulevard, (215) 413-9006, fringearts.com
  • GayBINGO! at Congregation Rodeph Shalom – For 20 years, GayBINGO!,a fundraiser for Aids Fund Philly, has been one of Philadelphia’s most in-demand Friday night events. Every month in the fall and winter, drag hosts dress according to a theme, interact with audiences, perform numbers and call winners. 615 N. Broad Street, (215) 731-9255, aidsfundphilly.org
  • Knock Restaurant and Bar – Iris Spectre hosts All-Star Karaoke every Wednesday at Knock, a Gayborhood restaurant and bar known for its gentlemanly clientele and expertly made cocktails. 255 S. 12th Street, (215) 925-1166, knockphilly.com
  • L’Etage – The dimly lit, Paris-inspired performance space above Bella Vista creperie Beau Monde hosts one of Philly’s most popular monthly drag shows, the Martha Graham Cracker Cabaret. The line stretches around the block for the performance, which features covers of beloved pop songs by the self-proclaimed world’s tallest, hairiest drag queen. The space also hosts a regular lineup of drag shows, including an amateur drag night on the first Sunday of every month from Philadelphia producer John Burd. 624 S. 6th Street, (215) 592-0656, creperie-beaumonde.com
  • The Raven Resort – New Hope, Bucks County has long been an LGBTQ destination, and every visit must include a stop at this sprawling piano bar, restaurant, motel and pool, whose legacy stems back to the 1970s. The Raven has played host to notables such as local legend Tinsel Garland and drag big-timers Paige Turner and Sherry Vine. The current roster includesLipstick Mondays, when Cyannie Lopez hosts trans and queen performers on the first and third Monday of every month. 385 W. Bridge Street, New Hope, (215) 862-2081,theravennewhope.com
  • Tabu Lounge & Sports Bar – Home to a wide-range of queer performance art, Tabu is perhaps best known for its drag variety shows, constantly being reshaped to fit with the goings-on in pop culture and cravings of local audiences. The nightclub holds competitions, cabarets, drag queen-hosted karaoke and, on the first Saturday of the month, “Christian” comedy queen Bev’s popular drag show, Bev’s Bitchfest. 254 S. 12th Street, (215) 964-9675, tabuphilly.com
  • Tavern on Camac – Staying true to its reputation, the atmospheric piano bar tucked away on Camac Street hosts two regular live singing-focused drag events. Every Thursday, it’s GayBill, a night of showtune sing-alongs with host Cleo Phatra and her closest friends. On the third Saturday of every month, ukulele-strumming bearded lady Eric Jaffe hosts The Eric Jaffe Show, spotlighting some of the area’s fiercest musical talents. 243 S. Camac Street, (215) 545-0900, tavernoncamac.com
  • Toasted Walnut Bar & Kitchen – Cleo Phatra hosts Totally Toasted Trivia, a game night every Tuesday at this friendly, lesbian-owned bar. During “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” comedy queen Bev hosts viewing parties followed by karaoke. 1316 Walnut Street, (215) 546-8888, toastedwalnut.com
  • The Victoria Freehouse – A British pub named after one of history’s most outspoken queens hosts one-Saturday-a-month drag shows with themes that have been inspired by Harry Potter, “Game of Thrones” and Bettlejuice. Two or three times a year, hilarious Aunt Mary Pat, perhaps the most Philly queen of them all, performs sold-out standup. 10 S. Front Street, (215) 543-6089, victoriafreehouse.com
  • Voyeur Nightclub – The Gayborhood’s fiercest drag fans head to this after-hours club once a month to catch Philly Drag Wars hosted by local “RuPaul’s Drag Race” alum Mimi Imfurst. Described as “RuPaul’s Drag Race” meets “The Voice,” the competition follows a similar format to both shows, including a the lip-sync-for-your-life contest and a rotating cast of high-profile local judges. 1221 St. James Street, (215) 735-5772, voyeurnightclub.com
  • Woody’s – Drag diva VinChelle hosts a “RuPaul’s Drag Race” viewing party every Thursday during the show’s regular season. The night features drink specials and boisterous banter directed at the screen. VinChelle also hosts karaoke on Woody’s second level on Wednesday nights. 202 S. 13th Street, (215) 545-1893, woodysbar.com

Drag Brunches:

  • Bourbon and Branch – On the fourth Sunday of each month, this Southern restaurant in Northern Liberties hosts a troupe of local drag queens in Babes of Bourbon and Branch, making the restaurant and music venue one of few surefire spots to enjoy live drag with a side of grits. 705 N. 2nd Street, (215) 238-0660, bourbonandbranchphilly.com
  • L’Etage – French toast, crepes and mimosas are part of the Ladies of L’Etage Drag Brunch, when queens come together for an afternoon of song, wowing death drops and, on occasion, a naughty puppet show. 624 S. 6th Street, (215) 592-0656, creperie-beaumonde.com
  • Mifflin Tavern – Drag brunch arrives South Philly-style every fourth Saturday of the month, when comedy queen Brittany Lynn sings and jokes as diners chow down on pub grub and throw back beers. Lynn also hosts a game night at the Pennsport pub every Wednesday. 1843 S. 2nd Street, (267) 273-0811, mifflintavern.net
  • Punch Line Philly – Each Saturday, this comedy club and restaurant charges a flat fee for brunch and an all-ages drag show—with a dash of raunchiness—hosted by two-time “RuPaul’s Drag Race” contender Mimi Imfurst. The weekly performance also features longtime Philly queens such as Cleo Phatra, Brooklyn Ford and Sutton Fearce. 33 E. Laurel Street, (215) 606-6555, dragdivabrunch.com
  • SouthHouse – Tater tots may be the star attraction at this unassuming neighborhood bar in South Philly’s Lower Moyamensing neighborhood, but drag queens Brittany Lynn, Navaya Shay and Crystal Electra try to outshine them during a drag brunch every first Sunday of the month. 2535 S. 13th Street, (267) 457-3682, southhousephilly.com
  • Tabu Lounge & Sports Bar – A rotating cast of queens that includes Onyx Black, Sasha Magnolia and Patty Spaghetti hit Tabu’s sports bar two Sundays a month for the Ladies of Tabu Drag Brunch. 254 S. 12th Street, (215) 964-9675, tabuphilly.com
  • The Victoria Freehouse – Old City’s atmospheric British pub gets wild on select Saturdays, when comedy queens host drag brunches with themes from Alice in Wonderland or Disney, and diners dress the part. 10 S. Front Street, (215) 543-6089, victoriafreehouse.com

Drag Queen Storytime:

  • Free Library of Philadelphia – Branches of Philadelphia’s public library get in on the drag queen story hour trend, where queens read aloud to a roomful of wide-eyed tots. Brittany Lynn is the Free Library’s most frequent storyteller. She has read at Lovett Memorial in Mount Airy and the Fumo Family Library in South Philly. Various locations, (215) 686-5322, freelibrary.org
  • Please Touch Museum – One day during Pride month, Philadelphia’s hands-on kids’ museum invites drag queens to read tales of diversity and acceptance to audiences of hundreds as part of its family Pride Celebration. The daylong event also features a dress-up corner, runway show, interactive puppet skits and singalongs. 4231 Avenue of the Republic, (215) 581-3181,pleasetouchmuseum.org

Drag Queens To Follow:

  • Ariel Versace – With a massive Instagram following and a closet to match, this self-described “life-sized Bratz doll” became the second local queen to nab a spot on the 2019 season of “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” Versace’s newfound stardom means she’ll now be performing around the world, but followers can still catch her around Philly. @arielversace
  • Aunt Mary Pat – She eschews expensive costumes and rocks a 5 o’clock shadow, but what Aunt Mary Pat lacks in glam she makes up for in hilarity. The beer-guzzling comedy queen is the epitome of Philly, entertaining audiences at her standup sets with anecdotes about her love for Wawa and “the Iggles.” facebook.com/auntmarypat
  • Aurora Whorealis – An Alaska transplant and Gayborhood staple, Aurora is primarily a comedy queen who performs at a slew of clubs and hosts “Trivi-YASSS” on Monday nights at Tabu. She was crowned “Best Lip-Sync Artist” at the 2017 Philly Drag Awards, an annual competition at Voyeur Nightclub. instagram.com/aurorawh0realis
  • Bev – Philadelphia’s self-described “premier Christian drag queen” is, intentionally ironically, known for her “Bitchfest” drag showcase at Tabu, when she presents other queens while tossing out quip after quip. Bev’s awards include “Best Comedy Performer” at the 2018 Drag Awards, “Miss Gulf Coast Comedy Queen,” 2017 and “Miss Northeast Comedy Queen,” 2016.facebook.com/theoneandonlyBev
  • Brittany Lynn – Created at former gay club 12th Air Command in 1996, Brittany Lynn is a cornerstone of the city’s drag scene, constantly reinventing herself with new events: a talk show, standup acts, live singing, weekly showcases and story time at the Free Library, for example. In 2013, she ushered in a new era of drag-queen involvement in the Mummers Parade by establishing the Miss Fancy Brigade, an achievement Philadelphia City Council recognized by honoring her with her own, official holiday: March 15 is Brittany Lynn Day. phillydragmafia.com
  • Iris Spectre – Every queen has her niche, and for this 2016 Philly Drag Awards “Drag Queen of the Year,” it’s costumes, costumes, costumes. The Parsons School of Fashion-trained designer’s costumes have been weird, fantastical and downright chic. She’s created pieces for big-name queens such as “RuPaul’s Drag Race” favorite Peppermint. facebook.com/Iris-Spectre
  • Martha Graham Cracker – Pig Iron Theatre Company co-founder by day, Dito van Reigersberg may be better known by his nighttime persona, Martha Graham Cracker, a hairy drag queen who skips the lip-syncing in favor of glass-shattering live vocals. Martha has been a regular on the drag performance circuit since 2005 and recently performed a one-woman show at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. facebook.com/MarthaGrahamCracker
  • Mimi Imfurst – Notorious for competing on “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and “RuPaul’s Drag Race All-Stars,” Philadelphia-based drag performer and event producer Mimi Imfurst hosts an all-ages Drag Diva Brunch at the Punch Line featuring a boisterous cast of local drag queens. She also produces theatrical events and national drag tours. mimiimfurst.com
  • Miss Lisa Lisa – All-out with her charm offensive, Miss Lisa Lisa—“so nice, she was named twice”—is a local icon, strutting her stuff and touting her strong-as-steel personality weekly at Bob & Barbara’s on South Street. She’s also been known to introduce new queens and performers at-large to the scene with her freestyle slots during her shows.phillydragmafia.com/project/underboss-miss-lisa-lisa
  • VinChelle – This Nashville-born University of Arts graduate, who also goes by the nickname Shea Better Werk, also refers to herself as a “tribal queen.” The “Drag Queen of the Year” at the 2017 Drag Awards and winner of the 2015 Drag Wars often incorporates African costumes, song and dance into her stage shows. facebook.com/SheaButterWerk

VISIT PHILADELPHIA® is our name and our mission. As the region’s official tourism marketing agency, we build Greater Philadelphia’s image, drive visitation and boost the economy.

On Greater Philadelphia’s official visitor website and blog, visitphilly.com and uwishunu.com, visitors can explore things to do, upcoming events, themed itineraries and hotel packages. Compelling photography and videos, interactive maps and detailed visitor information make the sites effective trip-planning tools. Along with Visit Philly social media channels, the online platforms communicate directly with consumers. Travelers can also call and stop into the Independence Visitor Center for additional information and tickets.

Thank you to Arturo Varela for the content of this post.

arturo@visitphilly.com

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Tweet It: The queens and the scene that make Philadelphia drag so fun @visitphilly: https://vstphl.ly/2G84zRN

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Picket

“PICKET FENCES” BY TEXTUAL ARTIST GERARD SILVA

ART GALLERY AT WILLIAM WAY LGBT CENTER DEBUTS

“PICKET FENCES” BY TEXTUAL ARTIST GERARD SILVA

Solo Exhibition  Features 26 Works on Paper through April 28, 2017

Picket Fences,” a solo exhibition by textual artist Gerard Silva, made its debut at the Art Gallery at the William Way Center on March 10 and runs through April 28, 2017.

Each of the exhibition’s 26 works on paper has been hand-printed by Silva and culled from a larger group in his “Picket Fences” series, serving a symbol of the way we choose what parts of ourselves to present to a society that makes judgements of approval or disapproval, of acceptance or rejection. While Silva strives for perfection, the hand-printing process produces slight variations that he can’t help but leave for the viewer to pass their judgements on.

“These screen prints relate to our daily lives in which we strive for acceptance; we are selective and we seek some kind of perfection in ourselves and in others,” Silva explains. “And it is this search for perfection in the many roles we all play that leads to insecurities that we have a difficult time admitting to or sharing with someone: insecurities that I’m acknowledging here.  But ultimately, I am who I am.  We are who we are.”

This project originated from the artist’s own frustrations and discouragement while working in his studio, often resulting in insecurities and self-doubt that spilled over into the many other roles in his life: a son, a friend, a gay man, a minority, a citizen, an outcast, a non-white, a non-black, a punk, a skeptic, a sinner, a foreigner, an American.

When pondering how he measures up, Silva’s collective work asks, “Is there a perfect state of being out there? Is the grass greener on the other side? Where is my white picket fence?”

Silva is a Philadelphia-based artist who has studied in New York, London and Arizona. His work has been shown in the Meyerson Gallery at the University of Pennsylvania, at the Kingston Gallery in Boston, at the San Diego Art Institute and at the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico. He was also included twice in the Arizona Biennial.

The William Way Center is open Monday through Friday from 11:00am -10:00pm and on Saturdays and Sundays from 12:00pm – 5:00pm.  Admission to the main floor gallery is free.

The William Way LGBT Center is located at: 1315 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107

215-732-2220

PICKET FENCES” is showing the following 15” x 22” works on paper:

PERFECT

WHITE

LATINO

PRETTY

PHONY

LUCKY

ESTABLISHED

PREEMINENT

COMMERCIAL

IMPORTANT

RICH

PROMISCUOUS

OLD

EMERGING

POOR

SERIOUS

WILD

BLACK

YOUNG

MAN

FABULOUS

QUEER

FUCKED-UP

BUTCH

CONNECTED

ANGRY

Thank you to Jolyn for the content of this post.

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Way

William Way LGBTQ Community CenterWilliam Way LGBTQ Community Center Group Art Show: Gina Giles, Thom Duffy, Lance Pawling

Thom DuffyGina Giles, and Lance Pawling are the winners of the 2013 William Way LGBT Community Center Juried Art Competition and their exciting and diverse bodies of work will be on display this September and October in the gallery.

Thom Duffy will display beautifully created watercolor still lifes on paper featuring an autumn theme. Gina Giles has exhibited in The Plastic Club, Off the Wall Gallery at Dirty Franks, Hicks Art Center Gallery, and more and will display photographic works. Pawling is a performance and installation artist known for his work with the improvisational theater group Dumpsta PlayersLance Pawling’s found-object sculptures ‘provide the viewer with a magnetic vounce through wonder. Evocative, often disturbing and equally alluring, his work redefines our ideas of refuse.’ The show will be on view in the gallery from through October 31, 2014.

The group art show at William Way LGBTQ Community Center presents three of Philadelphia’s most interesting and influential artists that were chosen from the 2013 Juried Community Art Show. I believe these artists are influential because they each are living their own authentic artistic self-actualized selves and influencing Philadelphia’s artistic culture.

Gina Giles is documenting the drag scene in Philadelphia, a performance art with a long Philadelphia history, through candid and backstage photographs. Thom Duffy is a fine painter who created a whole new body of work, beautiful Autumnal watercolors in a variety of sizes. Thom also operates a successful business, Thom Duffy Massage Therapy LLC, ‘offering a full array of therapeutic massage services for men and women to achieve specific targeted goals and physical well-being’. His job is to make you feel better. Lance Pawling, who’s day job is at The Philadelphia Museum of Art, is influential because of his fearless performances in burlesque shows as well as his visual art skills. I caught the latest performance of The Weird Beard Review, an all male burlesque review, at L’Tage and watched the man with the Dali moustache transform from art nerd to bearded lady sex bomb before my eyes.

October is Gay History Month and a lot of gay history is being made around the world. ‘LGBT History Month is a month-long annual observance of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender history, and the history of the gay rights and related civil rights movements. It is observed during October in the United States, to include National Coming Out Day on October 11.[1] In the United Kingdom, it is observed during February, to coincide with a major celebration of the 2005 abolition of Section 28.’ (Wikipedia).

The group art show at William Way LGBTQ Community Center is part of gay history now and I believe that the main takeaway is that ‘gay art’ is art just like LGBTQ people are people. Living an authentic life with a freedom of spirit and nature just feels right and brings happiness to our lives.

Read my interviews with each of these artists on DoNArTNeWs Philadelphia Art News Blog.

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Which Side Are You On?

Shawn Towey, Which Side Are You On?, fiber, 2012, William Way LGBT Community Center 8th Annual Juried Art Show

Shawn Towey, William Way LGBT Community Center

Shawn Towey, Which Side Are You On?fiber, 2012William Way LGBT Community Center 8th Annual Juried Art Show

Shawn Towey, Which Side Are You On?, fiber, 2012, William Way LGBT Community Center 8th Annual Juried Art Show

Shawn Towey, Which Side Are You On?fiber, 2012William Way LGBT Community Center 8th Annual Juried Art Show

Shawn Towey, Which Side Are You On?, fiber, 2012, William Way LGBT Community Center 8th Annual Juried Art Show

Shawn Towey, Which Side Are You On?fiber, $600.00, 2012William Way LGBT Community Center 8th Annual Juried Art Show

Inspired by the song of Florence Reece 1900 – 1986.

The William Way LGBT Community Center 8th Annual Juried Art Show drew 80 entries from artists winnowed to a show of twenty-five outstanding works of art by Philadelphia artists. The three top award winners will have a group show in 2014. The art show is in the lobby of the historic gay community center in Philly’s famous Gayborhood.

Shawn Towey‘s fiber wall hanging is rife with information and infinite inter-changing patterns. Each of the diamonds flips to reveal a different image. The collage effect drives a strong argument with it’s flipping photos but the beads attaching the tips are bead letters saying the words, “Which Side Are You On?“. Spelling out the ultimate question of the day. The story never ends.

“Which Side Are You On?” is a song written by Florence Reece in 1931. Reece was the wife of Sam Reece, a union organizer for the United Mine Workers in Harlan County, Kentucky. In 1931, the miners of that region were locked in a bitter and violent struggle with the mine owners called the Harlan County War. In an attempt to intimidate the Reece family, Sheriff J. H. Blair and his men (hired by the mining company) illegally entered their family home in search of Sam Reece. Sam had been warned in advance and escaped, but Florence and their children were terrorized in his place. That night, after the men had gone, Florence wrote the lyrics to “Which Side Are You On?” on a calendar that hung in the kitchen of her home. She took the melody from a traditional Baptist hymn, “Lay the Lily Low”, or the traditional ballad “Jack Munro“.[1] Florence recorded the song, which can be heard on the CD Coal Mining Women.'” – Wikipedia

Come all of you good workers
Good news to you I’ll tell
Of how that good old union
Has come in here to dwell

Chorus
Which side are you on?
Which side are you on?
Which side are you on?
Which side are you on? – Florence Reece

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Shagging – Kathryn Pannepacker at William Way LGBT Community Center

Shagging - Kathryn Pannepacker at William Way LGBT Community Center

Shagging – Shagging – Kathryn Pannepacker at William Way LGBT Community Center

DoN asked Kathryn Pannepackerr about the title of her fiber arts show at the William Way LGBT Community Center at 1315 Spruce Street called Shagging, what’s it mean?  “Get your jiggy on!  The title I started with was much too long, it was called Shag Tagging Graffiti Art for All, it was just too wordy, so I kind of just broke it down to the essence, Shagging. So, you know, working with fibers, a lot of texture, real simple knotting, kind of like shag rugs, my whimsical, funny, playful side, the sexy side of shagging.”  So it is a double entendre like rolling around on the rug?  “Well, it’s good to know that under it is chain link fence.”  Another metaphor?  “In a way, yeah.  A lot of this work came from doing a lot of guerilla work outside on chain link fences around abandoned lots around the city.  Just wanting to bring art outside for everybody, so that it’s really accessible for anyone.”

Shagging - Kathryn Pannepacker at William Way LGBT Community Center

Shagging – Kathryn Pannepacker at William Way LGBT Community Center

“I’ve been known to go around and tag, make little checker boards or little, beautiful ditties, on fences and gates throughout many years.  But, the last year or two in particular mostly on chain link fences.  So, I got this idea, why not get a huge roll of chain link fence at Home Depot?  You have to get it on line, and like an eighty pound order came, a huge roll, the idea was just to break it up and start doing huge wall pieces that I would exhibit in museums and galleries with the thought of art outside for everybody or art inside, sort of merge the two.  Inside/outside.  The other thing was I wanted to do large abstract painting-like pieces that were all about color and shape.  Sort of like intuitive, quick and expressive.”

What do you mean quick?  “Well, there’s nothing quick about textiles so I guess in a way it’s a funny way to think of it, but, it’s really just getting the juncture at the link of the fence and tying a knot and cutting it long enough so that it’s a shaggy knot.”

Shagging - Kathryn Pannepacker at William Way LGBT Community Center

Shagging – Kathryn Pannepacker at William Way LGBT Community Center

“But, quick in the sense of, the background study that I have with with very detailed French tapestry which is pictorial flat weave, hyper-intensive timing, this was doing my own designs, simple forms and shapes, abstract, painterly-like, so, even though there’s nothing real quick about it, it’s certainly quicker than flat weave tapestry.”

DoN asked, “How do you do it?  Is it hanging on the wall or do you just lay on the floor?”  Kathryn Pannepacker replied, “No, I actually would hang it between a door frame or I’ve got those pipe looms, like a coat rack, or something like that, so I just hang it from there.  The other thing is that people are always giving me yarns, it’s sort of like an ongoing thing.  It’s kind of like a joke, that when I run out of yarn, I’m going to change careers because I’ve got this idea in my head that it should be OK that everyone changes careers at least three times in life, that should be a cultural given.  Like at one point in time I would have liked to be a farmer or sell flowers on the corner.  But I think when I run out of yarn I’ll switch careers but people keep giving yarn, so I’ve got more work to make.”

Shagging - Kathryn Pannepacker at William Way LGBT Community Center

Shagging – Kathryn Pannepacker at William Way LGBT Community Center

At this point in our conversation a group of students entered the gallery and DoN followed around while Kathryn Pannepacker described the work.  “Many of these pieces are done by homeless men and women or people in recovery, so we would use the pellum fabric, to ask lead-in questions like, ‘What does home mean to you?’  So, they would write their comments into the weave and add that to the fencing.  The fabric is called pellum, a non-woven interfacing that a tailor might use inside of a coat.  And the beauty of working with this material is that after they would write and tie a knoe you don’t necessarily read the message on it.  So, it’s a nice opportunity for folks to share their thoughts and feelings but if they want to keep it private they can keep it private.  So, in some of the cases they wanted to share their thoughts, so, I also recorded on a paper a list that writes it all out, like blessings, and prayers, poems and words of advice or things they’re looking forward to.”

Shagging - Kathryn Pannepacker at William Way LGBT Community Center

Shagging – Kathryn Pannepacker at William Way LGBT Community Center

“What gave me the idea was for a number of years I’ve been doing little weavings between fences and gates around the city, in fact, I was doing little ditty weavings between fences and gates wherever I would travel around the world and it would be a way of leaving a popcorn trail of what I was doing.  So, then I started to use chain link fences around abandoned lots around the city because, around different neighborhoods where I was living, it was so depressing, I just wanted to add some color and life to that abandoned lot.  I would do large, or smallish it didn’t matter, but like shags, colorful checker boards or whatever and the idea came from that and what would it take to bring that into a gallery.  You might find yourself, you know, you work so much in your studio, then we work in a classroom situation, you need your own time to feed yourself or refuel.  So I was like,’What’s the good link between what I’m doing in the community but also that going to inform my own personal work?”

Shagging - Kathryn Pannepacker at William Way LGBT Community Center

Shagging – Kathryn Pannepacker at William Way LGBT Community Center

“In fifth grade we were introduced to macrame and we were making plant hangers with macrame and so immediately after that I was doing these like wall pieces with macrame knot but then I got into latch hooking and all that, so I love all that.”

Professor of Fibers at Tyler School of Art, Pazia Mannella, was with the group of students, so DoN took the opportunity to ask her feelings about FiberPhiladelphia 2012?  “I think it’s just amazing, especially someone who works in textiles and fibers, it’s so exciting to see so many examples of textile work and fiber arts work and really ranging from very traditional to experimental installation.  I was at all the opening events and it’s an amazing community that is in Philadelphia.”  DoN asked Professor Mannella about the political discussion surrounding women at this time and how fiber is often associated with women and her opinion of the political attack on women?  “Well, I do think historically fibers has been linked with women and I think that it’s important that the voices are heard within this political realm.  And that’s been kind of the issue with it being predominately men commenting on the health of women. I think that both men and women can react to a range of issues through fiber work.”

DoN commented that men seem to forget that women are taking care of business – the clothes we wear, the food we eat, the homes we live in, are often made possible by women.  Professor Mannella replied, “We’re really trying to increase our enrollment of men in our area, we have a male major, and we’ve had male majors in the past, but I think there has been a bit of a stigma with the word ‘fibers’ among, at least, the men, the male student population, in my experience.  But I think it’s interesting, some of the men that are taking our classes that are in their early twenties, they seem less affected by these gender debates, it’s just like there’s a difference among these young men, especially the ones in our class, they have a different point of view and they have respect for this craft and don’t feel stigmatized by it as a woman’s art.  So, it’s great to see all genders working with this technique.”

Shagging - Kathryn Pannepacker at William Way LGBT Community Center

Shagging – Kathryn Pannepacker at William Way LGBT Community Center

Kathryn Pannepacker said to DoN, “I have this funny way of just using up yarn, just shagging, being textural and fun.” The art in the William Way LGBT Community Center shows influences of Mondrian and KleeDoN wondered if this was fulfilling a need to paint?  “Well, I do paint, but I don’t paint like this, I tend to paint more, sort of, art naive Matisse-like, paintings that might be narrative in a way or self portraits.  I think of me rolling a ball of yarn looking at my easel, like will you take me back when I’m ready to start painting again?  Because sometimes I get real affixed with weaving and then I shift over to a mural project or a painting project or get real intensely focussed with my time in community work.”

Shagging - Kathryn Pannepacker at William Way LGBT Community Center

Shagging – Kathryn Pannepacker at William Way LGBT Community Center

“I wanted to share this with you, I’ve got this way of thinking, that may be a little nutsy at times, that you can’t call yourself an artist unless you’re making artwork.  The whole idea of really taking care of yourself in the studio and making sure you have enough of solitude time in the studio.  This work here, and the garland that’s outside the door is all part of the one-a-day series that I did.  When I get really intensely focussed on a project and I get back home in the studio, I like to do a one-a-day or something that’s going to bring me to my own series of exploration – color, texture…”

Shagging - Kathryn Pannepacker at William Way LGBT Community Center

Shagging – Kathryn Pannepacker at William Way LGBT Community Center

“I got the good news about the Leeway Foundation grant, I wanted to start on my website, slowly, slowly, a blog charting the process of how I’m spending my time and what I’m doing.  I have all these great ideas but for now it’s a little now and then.”

Written and photographed by DoN Brewer