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Outside of Love City Brewing this Saturday, you will be able to find hot chili oil, quirky plants, and sex-positive art.
Local organizers Meg Potoma, 30, and Gabriella Grimes, 26, are holding their first Trans Art Mart in the outdoor space next to the neighborhood brewery behind The Rail Park. The event will feature a variety of artists, including jewelry makers, fashion designers and graphic designers, all showcasing their wares in an open, welcoming transgender and queer space.
The project originated from a 2019 brainstorm by Mel Andrel, a 27-year-old trans artist who wanted to create a space for trans, non-binary, and queer creatives to sell their art. At the time, Potoma was trying to put together a small trans art show and reached out to Mel for a possible collaboration.
They started working together, and scheduled the show for March 2020. It didn’t happen.
“It was upsetting for us as the coordinators, also for the artists,” said Potoma, explaining why the organizers felt they had to postpone. “We didn’t want to take the risk of anyone getting sick.”
In the interim, Andrel moved out of state, and Potoma found another eager collaborator in Grimes. And now, after two years, thanks to a lot of luck, hard work, and support from Love City Brewing, the Trans Art Mart will finally make its debut.
The organizers combed through over 150 applications and chose 50 artists to spotlight. They then opened up volunteer and paid positions for event crew, prioritizing trans Black and brown people from Philadelphia in their hiring process.
“We’re excited to have a fun all-trans space,” Potoma said.
Fashion designer Allegra Pronesti, who showed their collection, “Family Values” at New York Fashion Week, will be selling clothing at the market. The 25-year-old designer’s goal is to blur the lines around the binary gender expression that’s the norm in the fashion world.
“All of my clothing is made for trans people. Most vending opportunities are centered around straight, cis people and it’s very hard for me to meet my target audience,” said Pronesti. “I just want to grow my brand’s name and build a community of trans folks that feel powerful in my clothes.”
At the mart, there’s a suggested $5, and a portion of all proceeds will go to Housing Reparations Philly and Cars for Philly, groups that raise funds for Black, trans, and queer people in Philly.
Face masks are required for entry, and workers will be checking vaccine cards as well. Organizers said they want to protect their vendors and patrons, as trans and queer people have an increased risk of contracting COVID.
Patoma is excited to see the event finally come to fruition. “Hopefully, [it’ll be] a lot of trans people living their best lives and just being super joyful and excited to be together,”