Metro Trans Umbrella Group (MTUG) is hosting its sixth annual art show at the Mad Art Gallery in St. Louis on April 13. The evening is for all ages and all abilities, being handicapped accessible, and there is a $5 suggested donation at the door to benefit MTUG.


The event features work from artists who identify in the LGBTQ+ spectrum – from visual art to performance art, the show’s message is Transcending the Spectrum. The show is curated by Alex Johnmeyer, with assistant curation by Charlie Blake.


“I want the show to be about everyone that feels that they fall under this umbrella of LGBTQ+, wherever you feel you fall underneath that, you are welcome,” Johnmeyer said.


The stigma that people have to be categorized as "queer enough" or "trans enough" is a norm that Transcending the Spectrum wants to challenge by moving beyond the binary and labels. It is for all forms of expression and “gender-fuckery,” as Johnmeyer says.


“We are humans, just the same as everyone else, and we just want acceptance and understanding. I want this show to be a place [for] the bears, queens, dykes, trans boys and girls, non-binary, asexuals, and pansexuals in one place. I feel like this is [one of] the only events where everyone gets together.” To Johnmeyer, “It’s not just art on the walls, there’s a human behind every single piece of art.”


Transcending the Spectrum offers people a chance to see that there are other people like them being visible. The show focuses on the possibilities of expression, whether it’s through gender identity or queer identity, but also goes beyond gender identity and sexual orientation, and highlights those that are differently abled, showing that this event is for every body. This is part of MTUG’s goal, according to Johnmeyer. “It’s about creating space, taking up space and being seen.”


There will be over 50 LGBTQ+ artists and performers featured, the largest exhibition in MTUG’s history. Artists participating in the show include Jeff Kapfer, Karen Jones, Amber Johnson, Eric Schoolcraft, Ash Forrest, Elizabeth Rajchart, Josie Cammarata, Mark Swain, April Morrison, Theresa Hopkins, and Alex Johnmeyer, among others.


The exhibition will also feature an array of performances, hosted by "genderbending" drag performer, Simon Saize and drag queen Tiki Vonte’. Performances include spoken word from Joss Barton and Dani Skye; musical acts from Kelsey Lee Evans, Oliver Pashea, Aiko Tsuchida; drag performances from Dickie Rebellion, Scarlett Syanide (Reigning Ms. Pride St. Louis 2018), Helena Handbag, Zaraih Principle, Brother Daniel, Mick Vagger, and Billy Midol.


“I would call it a celebration of trans and queer art,” Johnmeyer said.


The performance part of the evening will be two hours, from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m., and the art show will be from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m..


“Every year we keep getting more artists and performers. I want to keep making this bigger and bigger,” Johnmeyer said.


Transcending the Spectrum Awards to be given out include an “Emerging Artist” and “Best in Show”, sponsored by Dick Blick in the Delmar Loop.


Johnmeyer expressed that MTUG is very appreciative to Mad Art Gallery’s owner, Ron Buchele, for his gratitude and hospitality in donating the space for the organization to use.


“I’m thankful to the MTUG board for believing in me, and I’m thankful to the artists in St. Louis because I know it’s sometimes difficult to put yourself out there to be seen, ” Johnmeyer said.


Johnmeyer also points out that the visibility of queer and trans events such as this are impactful for allowing people a safe place of expression and community, and is revolutionary in the community. There are myriad ways to express one’s identity and offering a place for people to express freely helps the visibility of the queer and trans community.


For security, MTUG has a team in pace, as well as the Gateway Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, who will be making sure people are safe, and safe getting to and from the venue for the entirety of the event.


“This is a safe space, and we will be taking care of you. You do not need to worry about being judged. Anything goes, everything goes, it’s a celebration,” Johnmeyer said. "It is meant to normalize queer and trans identity."


“While there may be an artist who may not be as vocal about their identity, or not out with how they identify, MTUG is clear that we will work with you to get your art out there without violating your personal boundaries. There is no pressure to go beyond what you are ready for in your personal life.”


Johnmeyer says this to newcomers and up-and-coming artists: “Taking that first step is the hardest, but once you can find the strength to come out in public and be with others, it is definitely worth it, definitely rewarding, it is liberating.”


For more information on Transcending the Spectrum, visit the event page or MTUG’s website.


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