By Stephanie Meditz
While the Pride parade marched on in Manhattan on Sunday, queer artists in the Ridgewood and Bushwick areas came together in a celebratory display of their work.
The Footlight Underground at the Windjammer hosted a makers market for artists of various media, including jewelry, visual art, digital art, clothing, and tattoos, to set up shop for the day, gain exposure, and meet other artists in the area.
Many artists who attended the market see their art as an outlet for self-expression and a way of reconnecting with their roots.
Amy Catherine Welch has been painting since she was a child. She rediscovered her passion when she found an online painting application during her workday as a receptionist.
The bright, neon colors in her work are a welcome change from the white walls that surround her most of the time.
“I feel like I’m a bit of an old soul, so I like having these kind of Victorian women liberated with all the color…I just like playfulness,” she said, referencing her favorite piece. “I just like bringing joy.”
Bushwick-based illustrator and animator Eva Redamonti, @evaredamonti_art on Instagram, describes her extremely detailed artwork as psychedelic and surreal.
She sees art as a way of coping with her emotions in all their complexity.
“I think my art is deeply connected to my mental health,” she said. “So I make art when I’m happy, I make art when I’m sad, and it always makes me feel better. It’s kinda just what I do to survive in this world.”
Musician and visual artist Michael Rider likewise expresses themself through their art, specifically their experiences as a queer, nonbinary person.
“I find that in my visual work as well as my music, there’s a lot of longing, remembrance, nostalgia, just a lot of fantasizing for a kind of reality that doesn’t really exist,” they said.
Rider’s newest album, “Cycle,” came out in May and is available on most major streaming platforms, including Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, Amazon Music, and Pandora.
Hans Rasch of Le Sylphide Tattoos—“@le.sylphide” on Instagram—places a similar emphasis on queer and transgender experiences in conducting their practice.
They run a trauma-informed practice that creates a soothing, meditative, and private environment for their clients who are mostly people of color, feminine-presenting, or queer.
“A lot of breath work happens in the process, and meditation,” they said. “I’m a professional dancer as well, and so much of dance training has to do with psychosomatics and checking in, so a lot of that sort of vocabulary of listening in to the body… finds its way into my practice.”
Since Rasch works as a tattoo artist once a week, they value the unique personal connections they make with their clients.
Lex Glade, an artist, costumer, photographer, and prominent force behind the scenes of Footlight Presents, similarly finds it important to make connections and empower others to create art.
A self-described “professional dress-up person,” they love hosting one-on-one workshops to teach people how to sew and apply special effects makeup.
Glade’s brand Sparkle Punk—“@sparkle.punk” on Instagram—sells colorful jewelry, face masks, headbands, scrunchies, and more.
“I found that when I can make something that somebody can wear that makes them feel so good, that makes them feel really authentic and real and them, just made me really happy,” they said. “The most punk thing you could ever do is be yourself.”
Glade runs “@footlightpresents” on Instagram and is responsible for much of the organization’s recruitment for events and engagement with the community.
“That’s how people find us,” they said, referencing social media. “They’re like, ‘I feel the energy and I feel good, I feel safe here’… I think being a fem-owned and run business also really helps with that because we can really create a space that does what we preach.”
Footlight Presents hosts a variety of different events, such as open mic nights, cabarets, and workshops, to give emerging artists a platform and make culture accessible to all people.
It accomplishes these goals with the help of its members, who pay as little as $5 a month to support its efforts.
This funding allows events to have sliding scale admission, meaning that ticket prices vary and people pay what they can.
Footlight Presents also publishes a Zine titled “The Footlighter” that often highlights work by local artists and attendees of past events.
Laura Regan, who runs Footlight Presents, describes it as a need-based, community-oriented organization created “by artists for artists.”
“I go to a lot of events, I follow people on Instagram, I connect with people all the time, I’m always looking for new talent. I do come to a lot of the open mics and stuff too to scout for talent and see if I can book them on events. So it’s just about being invested and part of the community,” she said.
To support Footlight Presents in their mission to empower local artists and amplify diverse voices, become a subscribing member at https://withfriends.co/footlight_underground_at_the_windjammer/join.