4th Annual Pride Art Show Spotlights Local LGBTQIA+ Artists - The Bend Magazine

4th Annual Pride Art Show Spotlights Local LGBTQIA+ Artists

Joey Gonzales’ "Where Do You Go?" exhibition presents mixed-media explorations of reflection, nostalgia and resolution.

Local artist Joey Gonzales poses for a photo in Corpus Christi, Texas. | Photo by Levi Guzman

Local artist Joey Gonzales poses for a photo in Corpus Christi, Texas. | Photo by Levi Guzman

Navigating Corpus Christi as a shy queer kid, Joey Gonzales never saw themselves as the creative they have blossomed into today. After an unforgettable coming out story featuring none other than Corpus native Kevin Abstract, Gonzales’ newfound freedom allowed them to finally pursue their creative endeavors and advocate for marginalized peoples through art and direct action. 

At only 26 years old, they have already left their mark on the LGBTQIA+ community through the gift of art exhibits uplifting queer artists around the Coastal Bend. Now in its fourth year, Gonzales’ annual Pride Month show debuted June 7 inside Produce Gallery

The show, titled ‘Where Do You Go?”, depicts the metaphysical space we disappear into when we reflect. We chatted with the curator to learn more about their work on this exhibition and within the world of local queer art here in the Coastal Bend.

An array of artwork from LGBTQIA+ Exhibition Where Do We Go? inside Produce Bar in downtown Corpus Christi, Texas.
An array of LGBTQIA+ artwork inside Produce Bar in downtown Corpus Christi, Texas. | Photo provided by Joey Gonzales

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Evelyn Martinez: How did you land on this year’s theme of the “other” space?

Jose Gonzales: I think it’s always been something I’ve thought about. Growing up here in Corpus Christi, I was raised Catholic. You could expect us at church every Sunday, and I would always find myself getting lost in the stained glass and how beautiful that was, and finding comfort and solace. [I found myself thinking], “If I was a stained glass piece, what would I be? How would I be portrayed as a station of the cross?” I’m not saying I’m Jesus or anything, but it was very moving to see these pictures of someone being crucified for something as simple as being who they are. That’s how I started getting into liminal spaces.

Going to college and having many different experiences outside of Corpus, I always thought about what a place really is. Being on the journey of a creative person, I’ve learned to visualize and think about environments a lot differently. So when I was creating this show, I thought, “Where do you go when you process nostalgia? Where do you go when you process euphoria? Where do you go when you reflect?” I think that for me, nostalgia, euphoria and reflection are so essential to my everyday being. 

EM: What did you notice about the artists’ interpretation of the theme?

JG: Some people were very on the nose and some were very honest with their interpretation. We have Kevin Gonzalez, whose piece depicts him shedding what seems to be the skin of a cactus, and he’s arising from this dead cactus. I chose this piece because I loved that symbolism: when you reflect, you start to think about where you were then and where you are now. That’s why the title of the show is so important. 

The artist Alécota, has a really good interpretation of an abstracted version of the show. It’s a lot of very frenetic mark-making using watercolor on handmade paper. I think of these expressive movements of the paintbrush as guiding lights of the different ways nostalgia, euphoria and reflection can impact an individual. I hope people see the past, present and future in these works.

Featured works of art in the pride exhibition titled "Where do you go?" in Corpus Christi.
Photo provided by Joey Gonzales

EM: What does it mean for you to be able to cultivate this kind of space in the city you grew up in?

JG: There’s so much to be done still, but what I will say is that being a part of this newfound queer baseline in Corpus is so awesome. 20 years ago, 10 years ago, we didn’t have the Coastal Bend Pride Center or the Coastal Bend Wellness Foundation. They’re doing the work I feel is pivotal to changing queer lives in Corpus Christi. We’re a growing city with over 300,000 people, but at the end of the day, we’re still [a smaller community.] Metropolitan cities have a lot more resources and a lot of support in their communities. Here in Corpus, it’s the same 10 girls doing the same 10 queer nights and pride mixers. Shout out to us because that is so foundational to making Corpus a safer place for queer people.

People mingle outside Produce Bar during Artwalk in downtown Corpus Christi, Texas.
Photo provided by Joey Gonzales

EM: What goals do you have for the shows you will curate in the future?

JG: Just more visibility. We’ll never be a New York, we’ll never be a big city, but you know what? We deserve those cool, fun exhibitions or those fun events happening in Corpus Christi. 

It’s very telling how Texas specifically feels about the arts. In the spring of 2023, Conroe County banned Ocean Vuong’s On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous from district libraries. My favorite quote from the book says, “Because the sunset, like survival, exists only on the verge of its own disappearing. To be gorgeous, you must first be seen, but to be seen allows you to be hunted.” 

I love that quote so much because queer people every day, when we are visible, we are hunted. We are the first on the chopping block, especially Black trans people. When we are visible, when we are showing up for ourselves, we’re putting a target on our back. [So, with shows like this], my long-term goal is to make sure people are still caring about queer art. 

Grab a drink and lose yourself in this hypnotic exhibition during Produce Bar’s regular business hours. The artwork will remain on display until June 28.

Connect: @joeygonzales4th

Looking for more ways to support your local LGBTQIA+ community? Check out our list of events celebrating Pride Month in Corpus Christi.