The opening reception includes a fun photo booth. Dress up, make up, and have your portrait taken. Affordable prints will be available on the spot by Colin Moore Photography, with proceeds to benefit Vermont Arts Exchange. A Basement Music Series performance by cabaret and burlesque troupe Gypsy Layne follows at 8 pm, doors open at 7. (Tickets $18 in advance/$22 at the door.) Food and libations are available for sale from Thyme Tables Catering.
In “Backstage at the Rainbow Cattle Co.,” Lovett gives a rare glimpse into the spectacle of drag. In 2002, she began documenting backstage preparations for monthly shows at the now defunct Rainbow Cattle Company, a gay bar in the rural town of Dummerston.
“I was mesmerized by the lengthy and meticulous process of transformation — layers of pantyhose pulled on, waists cinched, breasts created, eyeliner drawn, false eyelashes, wigs, jewels, nails,” Lovett recalls, “I zeroed in on the moment — was there a moment? — when the switch was flipped from man to woman.” She adds, ”But it wasn’t all about photographing. All month I looked forward to the time I spent backstage. I loved being there, being part of it. I felt like I was hanging out with my girlfriends while we dressed for the prom. I was sucked into the world of banter and camaraderie in that smoky basement room.”
Lovett’s large format, black and white photographs of “the Ladies,” as she calls them — from grocery store workers to nuclear power plant operators — reveal the power of personal transformation. In 2010, Lovett and Greg Sharrow, co-director and director of education of the Vermont Folklife Center, gave voice to that power through interviews of the five main members of the troupe — Mama, Kitty, Candi, Sophia, and Mercedes — by then performing as the Ladies of the Rainbow Lounge.
This exhibition of large photographs and audio, organized by the Vermont Folklife Center, is traveling to all 14 counties of Vermont thanks to a grant from the Samara Fund of the Vermont Community Foundation and in collaboration with RU12? and Outright Vermont. It has also been shown in galleries in Boston, New York, Cape Cod and even Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Join Lovett and Sharrow at VAE on Wednesday, April 3, for a conversation about this project and “the Ladies” on Wednesday, April 3, at 7 pm.
The exhibition, performance, and discussion include mature content and may not be appropriate for viewers younger than 18.
For more information visit www.vermontfolklifecenter.org/vision-voice/rainbow/about.php.