Below a hanging mobile sculpture is a “do-it-yourself guide” to having children. Down the hall, television sets mounted to a log scaffolding show a series of queer weddings. On a makeshift stage, local drag performers transform themselves from their public to their drag personas live in front of an audience before performing their act.
This unconventional art exhibit, called “Strange Bedfellows,” is part of the 16th annual National Queer Arts festival, taking place in San Francisco through Saturday. “Strange Bedfellows” is showing at the non-profit gallery Root Division, and features works by more than 20 queer artists.
“I consider multiple authorship as a radical concept,” queer art historian and curator Amy Cancelmo said. “I think that because queer artists have existed historically for so long outside the mainstream culture that there’s been maybe more room to work collaboratively outside of that structure.”
A zine project by artist Angie Wilson offered information for people who want to try what she calls “D.I.Y. conception.” Wilson and her partner Amber Strauss conceived a child through at-home insemination and gave birth to their daughter in April. Their zine, titled “A D.I.Y. guide to babymaking: This is how we did it,” documented the process.
Near the back of the gallery, a television monitor installation titled “We Do!” was arranged to resemble an altar. A collaboration between local artists Luke Wilson, Elizabeth Stephens and Annie Sprinkle, each screen played footage from “The Love Art Project” – a seven-year project in which over 1,000 participants made or renewed their wedding vows.
The Mission District is the first of three stops for “Strange Bedfellows.” The exhibit will move to Bucknell University in Pennsylvania this fall, then finally to Chicago’s College Art Association (CAA) Conference in February. CAA conferences are prestigious venues for emerging and established art historians like Cancelmo to share their findings with colleagues.
“I think that is very important to expand the visibility of queer art in Academia and this is a great opportunity for that,” Cancelmo said. The show, and a corresponding catalogue, will be featured as a sponsored exhibition of the CAA’s Queer Caucus of the Arts.
As the project travels, it will evolve to adapt to new locations and communities. Each show will include additional works by local artists in each area.
“For the show in Chicago, I am collaborating with a couple of collectors and some local drag show,” Cancelmo said.
“Strange Bedfellows” is open to the public through Saturday, 2-6 p.m., when thousands of people will gather at Dolores Park to celebrate the Pride Festival and close the first phase of this project.