Wednesday, September 28

San Francisco’s Prettiest Drag Queen Is Getting an Exhibit Dedicated to Their Life’s Work

‘Juanita: 30 Years of MORE!’ celebrates Juanita MORE!’s decades-long influence… which shows no signs of dimming.

You can’t utter “San Francisco drag” without either a direct or indirect nod to Juanita MORE!. She’s both the zenith and epitome of queer culture in San Francisco — forever charitable, endlessly creative, and disarmingly captivating — simultaneously.

I’ve had the pleasure of sharing countless meals in the presence of MORE! over the years. When she plunged into the details around Juanita: 30 Years of MORE! — a fiscally sponsored exhibit from the San Francisco Arts Commission (SFAC), curated to honor her impact and unmatched legacy that reaches well beyond SF — over duck noodle soup one evening, I was as thrilled for her as I was for those who’ve ever wanted to see the art tucked away inside her tiny TenderNob studio.

Running at the SFAC Main Gallery in the War Memorial Veterans Building from September 30th through November 12th, Juanita: 30 Years of MORE! will feature a hand-picked selection of photographs, posters, original commissioned artworks, and dresses that offer a rare glimpse into MORE!’s Marvel-like cinematic universe of drag — one populated with household names, numerous artistic collaborators, and gorgeous naked gentlemen that’ll leave you biting the back of your hand.

“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! before waxing that entity we know as Juanita MORE! is the product of collaborations and wells of community support.

Like a siphonophore, MORE!’s larger-than-life persona and “vehicle” for change go beyond one cellular creature: “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, non-profits, and a community I consider my chosen family. And this exhibition is my loads of love letters to all of them.” 

Curated by Oakland-based trans contemporary artist, curator, and educator, Marcel Pardo Ariza — whose practice celebrates intergenerational connection and boundary-breaking image making — MORE!’s “public love letter” will be an extension of her kind nature, left-of-center drag, and advocacy for queer and trans rights, as well as affordable housing intuitive.

“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. 

The multi-hyphen curator also noted that visitors will enter the gallery by way of a nod to MORE!’s “drag closet” — a displayed selection of Juanita’s most iconic San Francisco Pride dresses designed by Mr. David (a.k.a Glammaore), along with all the accessories needed to complete Juanita’s iconic looks, including hats, handbags, gloves, shoes, and jewelry.

The main gallery space is an homage to all that is MORE! in a “salon-style” atmosphere that evokes the feeling of being inside her TenderNob residence; work by a number of lauded local muralists like J. Manuel Carmona, Serge Gay Jr., and Simon Malvaez will be up for viewing; photographs by Gooch, who’s been of MORE!’s most prolific event photographers over the years, will be framed in the gallery space; winks to her “MOREboys” will be featured in an area aptly referred to as the “Smut Room,” which will feature two bodies of photographic work that pedestal MORE!’s *unique* and *iconic* Naked Dinner Party and Booty Call events.

Exhibit attendees are encouraged to take pictures — selfies, panoramas, etc. — and take their time absorbing MORE!’s mark on San Francisco. Much like interacting with MORE! out at an event: Look, but don’t touch.


‘Juanita: 30 Years of MORE!’ will be on display at the San Francisco Art Commission’s main gallery space at 401 Van Ness Ave #126 from September 30th through November 12th; visitors will be welcomed from Wednesday through Saturday between noon and 5 p.m.; masks are encouraged and there will be a free-to-attend opening celebration party from 6 p.m to 8 p.m., September 30th; for more information on SFAC, as well as Juanita: 30 Years of MORE!, visit sfartscommission.org.


Feature Image: Courtesy of Photos by Gooch

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