By Dakota Parks for Inweekly
With Pride Month just around the corner, Pensacola’s vibrant art scene is gearing up for a celebration of diversity and creativity. Held on the third Friday of every month, Gallery Night will once again transform the streets into an artistic haven with through-traffic halted and artists, vendors, nonprofits and food trucks from across Pensacola converging on Palafox Street for a one-of-a-kind cultural experience.
This month’s Gallery Night, themed “Prismatic,” will not only celebrate LGBTQ+ artists but also amplify their voices and highlight the importance of inclusivity and representation in the arts community.
“We have such an incredible art scene in Pensacola, but I think we take for granted how much of that intersects with queer identity,” Gallery Night Board Member Sydney Robinson explained. “Many of the best artists in this city are queer and trans, but a lot of LGBTQ+ people don’t feel as visible or as appreciated as they should, considering how much we’ve contributed to the city. With bars and queer spaces vanishing across the country, it’s important to hold space and create spaces like this for the community.”
Prismatic Gallery Night emerged from Robinson’s aspiration to make queer artists feel seen and celebrated while providing them with a platform to sell their works and connect within the community. Supporting and uplifting marginalized communities and diverse cultures is at the heart of what Robinson does as a community organizer in Pensacola. She also spearheaded the upcoming Juneteenth Gallery Night to highlight the contributions of Black artists and business owners while celebrating the holiday’s significance as a day of freedom and independence for African Americans.
“Prismatic Gallery Night is going to be everything you love about our regular Gallery Night, but we’re highlighting LGBTQ+ individuals in the community,” Robinson said. “You can’t truly have an event that is centered around art and pretend like the contributions of queer people aren’t a vital part of that. So, this is our way of highlighting the people behind the art you’re buying.”
Prismatic Gallery Night, which boasts over 60 vendors and live music by Hane Skot, Greg Bond and Faithe Franklin on the Garden Street stage, is also showcasing local nonprofits and LGBTQ+ organizations in Pensacola.
Organizations that will be present include Stamped Film Festival, Pensacola’s long-standing, annual LGBTQ film festival scheduled for Sep. 28-Oct. 1; Strive, which provides emergency housing, financial support and transportation for the transgender community; PensaPride, a family-friendly pride festival scheduled for June 24; Liberation Pensacola, a monthly pop-up drag and dancing event; and Sunday’s Child, a Pensacola Bay Area member-based philanthropic group that promotes LGBTQ+ inclusion and equality by awarding grants to eligible local nonprofits. Taste of Pensacola will also be selling a curated pride gift box full of goods from LGBTQ-owned businesses and artists with the proceeds benefiting Sunday’s Child.
Each month, Gallery Night selects a featured artist to spotlight and promote alongside the event. The featured artist for May’s Prismatic Gallery Night is ceramicist Kyle Miller, who explores intersectionality and identity in their work as a queer, nonbinary, first-generation Asian-American, PTSD-surviving combat veteran.
“Being a queer artist directly ties into my identity, so it’s one of the main themes I explore in my work,” Miller explained. “To me, art is a form of communication, and I use my work to immerse audiences in installations that trigger subconscious conversations. These are the very same conversations that run through my mind daily while living in a world where I don’t seem to fit.”
In addition to creating conceptual bodies of work exploring queerness and utopian communities, Miller uses atmospheric firing techniques including wood-firing and pit firing, the oldest and original form of firing ceramics in a hole in the ground, to create one-of-a-kind pieces with unpredictable color patterns and textures. By working in this medium, Miller has also built a community of like-minded individuals.
“Most recently, I’ve begun organizing a national collective of queer ceramicists looking to thrive in the atmospheric-firing community, which is currently reckoning with its reputation for systemically and historically having an unwelcoming, homogeneous, toxically masculine culture,” they explained. “The two main goals are to expand firing access to marginalized and underrepresented individuals and to foster a safe firing environment.”
Like many queer artists, Miller uses art to communicate their struggles and share their stories and visions for a better world, while simultaneously creating a sense of community and belonging. This community-making is front and center at Prismatic Gallery Night, where visitors can support local artists, discover vital organizations making a difference in Pensacola and connect with others within their community.
“The Pensacola art scene is definitely changing and evolving thanks to community organizers like this who are devoted to creating diverse events that support local artists,” Miller explained. “In the art world, we are just starting to dismantle and challenge the power structures that limit equality. The more we communicate and normalize equality, the broader our understanding will be of the diverse human experience.”
PRISMATIC GALLERY NIGHT WHAT: Gallery Night’s May event, featuring a theme that celebrates LGBTQ+ artists and organizations WHEN: 5-9 p.m. Friday, May 19 WHERE: Palafox Street, between Garden and Main streets DETAILS: gallerynightpensacola.org