Alexandria art opening features D.C. drag queens

Amy Hunter, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – The idea for Louise Noakes’ latest art exhibit was born two years ago at a drag queen show she attended with her 17-year-old daughter.

“We went to a drag show at Perry’s in D.C. because I like to expose her to different things. It’s a bonding experience,” Noakes says.

“I took some photographs and was playing with them, and I thought ‘this may be fun, this may be something I want to work on.'”

For the next two years, Noakes went to drag shows in New York, Florida, D.C. and Germany, getting to know the shows’ stars and snapping pictures along the way.

Her exhibit, “Tribute to the Queens,” is a collection of photographs Noakes’ took all over the world, which she then transformed digitally to resemble graphic illustrations. They’re full of bold colors, exotic imagery and thrilling costumes.

“They sort of look like pop art, the Andy Warhol look, but different,” she says.

The exhibit opened on Monday at the Multiple Exposures Gallery at the Torpedo Art Factory in Alexandria. While it’s far from Noakes’ first opening, it is her first one-person show and she’s excited about the buzz it’s already creating.

“We’ve had tons of people in,” she says. “They’re just astounded.”

Noakes says part of what appealed to her about the subject matter was the extravagance of the performances.

“It’s the whole thing. It’s the music, the loud music, the dance, they are such good dancers, and there is a lot of comedy involved in it,” she says.

“These guys, most of them make their own costumes. I mean who makes their own clothes these days? You are just totally entertained.”

While some of the shows were a little raunchy, for the most part they were tasteful. She also says she enjoyed getting to know the performers, who loved the publicity and were flattered Noakes’ was interested in featuring them.

“What girl would not want to be photoshopped?” Noakes jokes. “I’m honoring them for all of the time they put into their art.”

The exhibit features 11 of Noakes’ 30 works. Four of the drag queens featured are D.C. performers. Prints are for sale at the gallery and larger prints can be ordered, she says.

The official opening will be held from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on July 1. But Noakes doesn’t call it an opening – it’s a “happening,” Noakes says.

“This is not a boring wine and cheese opening at all,” she says. Adding the event may feature performances and some games.

For more information on Noakes and her newest exhibit, click here.

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