It’s never been tougher being an artist, with less people spending money on the arts these days.
It’s even harder being a gay artist.
That’s why Julie Haber, a photographer and small business owner in Tampa, organized “32 Shades of Gay”, an original art and fashion event featuring gay and gay-friendly artists from the area. She’s opening up her home and backyard for the free event this Saturday, Nov. 3 from 2 to 10 p.m.
Haber was inspired by younger artist friends, including Jessica Manthei (whose age — 32 — inspired the name of the show) and Kasey Miller. Artists like these, though immensely talented, often work two, three, four and even more jobs to simply make ends meet. “And I really hate that. It leaves me with an awful feeling,” Haber said. “They’re doing things that have nothing to do with their art. We all have to survive, but when people who have such a gift aren’t able to support themselves with their art, it’s heartbreaking.”
The idea for “32 Shades of Gay” came to Haber quite literally in a dream. “I woke up with the name in my head,” she said, “and I knew I had to do it.”
Organizing the show has been trial and error, as Haber has never put together such an event before. Luckily, her 26 years of experience working for Xerox came in handy. “I worked in problem solving,” she said. “So I’m a plan A-, B- and C-er.”
Haber teamed up with Darcy Rouh, styling director for the House of Donshey, whom she met through mutual friends. “She’s so easy to work with, and there’s such serenity about her,” she said. “And she’s a good connection for both artists who are up and coming and those who are further along in their careers.”
Rouh felt an immediate kinship with Haber. “Her passion is infectious,” Rouh said. “I’m excited to be doing something to celebrate the gay community.”
Around 13 artists will set up booths to showcase and sell their work and a variety of LGBT performers, from drag entertainers to musicians will entertain the crowd. DJ Aleta will be on hand throughout the entire event. And donations will be collected for the Francis House, which serves the Tampa Bay AIDS/HIV community.
“32 Shades of Gay” will take place at Haber’s house, 2907 N. Jefferson St., Tampa. For more information, check out the Facebook event page.