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Pioneers Go East Collective presents new art in Troy

The Pioneers Go East Collective, based in New York City, presents performance, film, drawings, and sculpture at Collar Works, a gallery that supports emerging and underrepresented artists, in Troy, NY, through October 7. Titled Art Like Love (ALL!), the free exhibit examines the influence of queer artists of the 1970s and 1980s who went unrecognized by established galleries and performance spaces. The exhibit also draws on DIY, camp, and genderpunk and genderflux aesthetics that seek to subvert the restrictiveness of gender conformity.

Scrappy, thoughtful, and bold, Pioneers Go East (the name is contrary to the conventional cheer, “Go West”) is LGBTQ-identifying, and features BIPOC and immigrant artists. Led by cultural organizers Daniel Diaz, Joey Kipp, Gian Marco Riccardo Lo Forte, and Philip Treviño, the Collective is a laboratory of performing and visual artists who shed light on and empower the LGBTQ community. The Collective programs innovative artists across disciplines that expands the vernacular.

Early queer artists’ radical political and social activism encourages present day artists to further explore queer community and the ways in which community can inclusively and imaginatively grow. Investigating genealogical antecedents, the Collective presents five generations of artists, from the Silent Generation to the Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z. “To know our history is empowering; it tells us in a more nuanced way how we can be together and share,” says Lo Forte, who founded the Collective in 2010.

Art Like Love (ALL!) includes a new series of intimate drawings depicting queer life on the street, at work, and in the clubs by Mark Tambella, spikey neon creations by Paul Simon (also known as notpaulsimon, one word), a performance installation that flashes from heady proclamations to weighted dancing inspired by poet Allen Ginsberg who reflected on same-sex love and male bonding, and three video-art films by the Collective: one based on author James Baldwin’s interviews, speeches, and queer-themed essays, another depicting performance artist Agosto Machado’s reminiscences of LGBTQ advocacy and 1970s and 1980s queer artists, and the third inspired by avant-garde filmmaker Tom Rubnitz’s celebration of otherness. A performance of excerpts of two surreal LGBTQ-centered operas, Electric Blue and COLLUSIONS of Grandeur, by the ethereal singer ALEXA GRÆ, graced the exhibit opening. Saya ALEXA, “everything I create is a moment of immersive art and pure imagination to draw us toward something divine.” 

Lo Forte continues, “the arts are where we can celebrate each other. We are all vulnerable. We don’t have to agree, we don’t have to have answers, but we need to be in conversation with ourselves and others, and interconnect.”

The closing reception of Art Like Love (ALL!), October 7 from 2-4 p.m., features the full performance of Electric Blue.

Catherine Tharin danced with the Erick Hawkins Dance Company.  She teaches dance studies and technique, is an independent dance and performance curator, choreographs, writes about dance for Side of Culture, and is a reviewer and editor for The Dance Enthusiast. She also writes for The Boston Globe. Catherine lives in Pine Plains, New York and New York City. 

The views expressed by commentators are solely those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the views of this station or its management.

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