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    Juanita: 30 Years of MORE! Celebrates the Iconic San Francisco Drag Queen’s 30th Anniversary

    The San Francisco Arts Commission (SFAC) Main Gallery is proudly presenting Juanita: 30 Years of MORE!, an exhibition that highlights and celebrates the groundbreaking and radical work of San Francisco drag icon and denizen of the limelight, philanthropist, fashionista, DJ, activist, community leader, chef, and drag mom to many, Juanita MORE! 

    Nearly thirty years ago on Halloween in 1992, famed New York City drag queen Glamamore, also known as “Mr. David,” a longtime collaborator, friend, drag mother, and exclusive designer of every dress she has ever worn since, put MORE! in drag for the very first time. Before he painted her face he said, “You’re gonna be hideous!” In retelling this story, MORE! always follows with, “Well, I wasn’t and I’m not. I have loved it all and I haven’t stopped since.”  

    Juanita: 30 Years of MORE! is now on view at the SFAC Main Gallery in the War Memorial Veterans Building through November 12, 2022, and features a curated selection of photographs, posters, over 40 original commissioned artworks, and dresses that offer a rare glimpse into MORE!’s extraordinary and fabulous life, representing just a fraction of the thousands of objects from her personal archives. 

    “When I think about the past thirty years, it all plays like a movie rewinding at high speed—full of detail, stories, and characters, rich with visuals that are full of vivid colors and textures that blur together like a kaleidoscope,” says MORE! “Yet, I’ve never claimed complete ownership of Juanita’s realization or activism. Instead, I’ve been the vehicle that brought her to life through the work of many talented artists, nonprofits, and a community I consider my chosen family. And this exhibition is my loads of love letters to all of them.” 

    Juanita: 30 Years of MORE! is curated by Oakland-based trans contemporary artist, curator, and educator, Marcel Pardo Ariza, whose practice celebrates intergenerational connection and image making while pushing against the boundaries of visual culture and media representation.

    “Juanita’s practice embodies so many things we need more of right now—collective care, bringing people together, valuing and uplifting artists’ work, centering pleasure, friendship, and collaboration,” says Pardo Ariza. “She’s a fierce advocate for queer and trans rights, a true San Francisco icon, and a deeply loved member of the LGBTQIA+ community. Curating this exhibition has been an absolute honor.”

    “We are thrilled to partner and work with artist and curator, Marcel Pardo Ariza, to showcase the art and legacy of Juanita MORE!,” said Ralph Remington, Director of Cultural Affairs for the SFAC. “Over the past three decades, Juanita has worked tirelessly to not only advocate for and give back to San Francisco’s communities in need, but has also worked to support and uplift local artists across multiple disciplines, creating a more vibrant and inclusive arts scene in San Francisco.”

    An avid supporter of the arts, MORE! has regularly commissioned other artists to create work inspired by and depicting her. To welcome visitors as they enter the Main Gallery, the exhibition showcases a selection of over 40 original commissioned artworks that are installed “salon-style,” recreating the cozy entrance of MORE!’s Tenderloin home. Included in this installation are works by Matthew Benedict, J. Manuel Carmona, Timothy Cummings, Ariel Dunitz-Johnson, Farika, Sean Freitas, Serge Gay Jr., Gooch, Koak, Scooter La Forge, Simon Malvaez, Aaron Plant, and Jim Winters, among many others. 

    As visitors continue into the gallery, they enter a “drag closet” like no other and find a selection of MORE!’s most iconic San Francisco Pride dresses designed by Mr. David, along with all the accessories needed to complete her iconic looks, including hats, handbags, gloves, shoes, and jewelry.

    Since 2005, MORE! has hosted an annual San Francisco Pride party and fundraiser, welcoming thousands of revelers into a fun and carefree safe space to dance and celebrate. Over the years, this event, along with numerous other fundraising initiatives hosted by her, has helped raised over an estimated one million dollars for local organizations advocating for the queer and trans community, including the GLBT Historical Society & Archives, Our Trans Youth, Q Foundation, Queer Lifespace, and Transgender Law Center, just to name a few. 

    MORE! has touched many lives with her work and advocacy over the years, and this exhibition features, for the first time ever, a wall showcasing the many awards of recognition MORE! has received from local, state, and federal government officials, as well as accolades from numerous beneficiaries she has raised funds for. To show the impact MORE! has had on individual lives, a wall is also dedicated to the hundreds of love letters MORE! has received from people whose lives she’s changed. Postcards are available for gallery visitors to leave MORE! a love letter of their own. 

    And finally, it wouldn’t be a true MORE! exhibition without showcasing her “MOREboys,” who are featured in a special room in the gallery, fondly referred to as the Smut Room, in two bodies of photographic work by MORE! called Naked Dinner Party and Booty Call. Also in this room is a backdrop of MORE!’s closet and a glowing pink neon sign with her famous sign off “Loads of Love.” MORE! selfies are highly encouraged!

    Arts & Entertainment
    Published on October 6, 2022