Hidden on the 19th floor of the Manhattan Municipal Building in the office of Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer is the Maggi Peyton Gallery, which has rotating exhibitions that change a few times a year. For Pride month, the gallery has been transformed into a queer art gallery showcasing the works of more than twenty LGBTQ artists, poets, and photographers. The gallery’s opening reception included spoken word performances and speeches from the event’s organizers. The exhibit—which is in celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Stonewall Riots—is meant to uplift rising queer artists and celebrate the LGBTQ community. And an additional reason to visit this little-known gallery: the amazing views of New York City from here!
The exhibit was organized by artist and photographer Jean Sonderand. Sonderand, who moved to New York from Kansas in 2013, became deeply involved in their artistic endeavors within the queer community. Specifically within the queer community, their artwork works to shed light on issues of social justice and sustainability. Their photography was shown throughout the exhibit and was incorporated in conjunction with the work of many other artists because, as they noted, “none of the work that I have been able to do has been possible without the people who are here showing their art, their gifts, and their energy.”
Additionally, the works of Johnathan Morpurgo, a founder of the Tahrir Scarf Organization were on display around the frames of many of the other artists’ works and the windowsills of the gallery. The Tahrir Scarf Organization, a non-profit which sells 32 different varieties of rainbow scarfs to help raise money for LGBTQ pride events, was founded by Morpurgo in 2013 when he noticed an absence of rainbow scarfs on the market.
“I have no association with the Arab world or the Muslim word—I’m an Israeli-American—but I saw the need for a rainbow scarf and decided to start a non-profit,” said Morpurgo at the gallery opening. The scarves are manufactured on a historic jacquard loom in India and combine the many different flags to create products which allow wearers to express their multicultural identity. Each different style is named after a queer historical figure. The scarves are available for purchase on Amazon and the Tahrir Scarf website.
Moreover, the artists from The Glitter Cove showcased some of their sparkly masterpieces. The artist and founder of the Glitter Cove, Joey Mirabile, mixes historic references and pop culture iconography with elaborate and campy glitter to create nuanced works of art. The piece (some which can be seen below) are available for purchase on Etsy and can be found at the Glitter Cove Instagram.
Beyond these three artists, several other queer creators were showcased throughout the gallery and were celebrated at the gallery’s opening. The exhibit Rags and Riches: Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Stonewall is open to the public until July 10 at the Maggi Peyton Gallery on the 19th floor of the New York Municipal Building near the Brooklyn Bridge. For more information, please visit Jean Sonderand’s website.
Next, check out the Top 12 Secrets of NYC’s Manhattan Municipal Building and 17 other art installations not to miss this month!