The Word On Art

Homegrown Art Triumphs at PROUD+ Exhibition: A Beloved tradition Celebrates its Seventh Year

By Patric Stillman

Every year, the vibrant and diverse LGBTQ+ community of San Diego comes alive during Pride Month, celebrating with parades, events, and, most notably, art. Among the most anticipated events is the annual PROUD+ exhibition at The Studio Door, a celebration of contemporary LGBTQ+ art that showcases the talents of both local and international artists. Running from July 2 to August 3, 2024, this year’s exhibition promises to be a feast for the senses, bringing together a diverse array of works that honor the unique sense of pride within the community.

Hidden Vices by Alonso Yañez

The PROUD+ exhibition has become a beloved tradition, now in its seventh year, attracting artists and art lovers from across the country and beyond. This year’s exhibition features over 60 works from 23 local artists and allies, along with contributions from 20 additional artists across a dozen U.S. states and Mexico. Curated by Micheal Swank, Director of Exhibition and Residency at Art Gallery Studios in Mexico and producer of the Bureau of Queer Art, the 2024 exhibition is set to be a dynamic and vibrant event, reflecting Swank’s dedication to promoting international queer art.

Love in the Shade by Joan Cox

Among the local talents participating this year are Alexander Arshansky, Chad Berwald, Miguel Camacho-Padilla, Trevor Castor, Lance Chang, Rory Chrz, Roy de Vries, Yvette Deas, Thomas Diethert, Steven Dupus, John Keasler, Crisinda Lyons, RD Riccoboni, Ramona Szczerba, Danny Warhole, Tim Weedlun, and Kelsey Worth. Each artist brings their unique perspective and style, contributing to a rich tapestry of creativity that celebrates the LGBTQ+ experience.

Pronouns by Deborah Hirshfeld

Featured artist Colette Hebert (Lesbian), working out of Point Loma, stands out for her ability to capture the essence of human emotions and movement on canvas. Her work, influenced by her background in dance and love for the Tango, combines abstract and figurative elements to create pieces that resonate with universal emotions. “Both give me great satisfaction,” Hebert says. “They offer the same creative release to me. I start with a ‘blank canvas’ and have the freedom to express myself through movement. You could say that the Tango allowed me to paint with my feet.” Utilizing unconventional materials like aluminum sheets, Hebert’s work stands out for its unique textures and emotional depth.

Taking Our Time by Stephen Honicki

Yvette Deas (Lesbian) explores the intersections between the multiple selves we construct for public and private consumption. Her work has been exhibited in prominent cultural centers like SOMArts in San Francisco, showcasing her unique perspective on identity and self-expression.

P12_25-23 by Colette Hebert

John Keasler (Gay), a multi-disciplinary artist, has been a shining light in the LGBTQ+ art community for two decades, working in various media including pencil, paint, collage, carving, and assemblage. His ceramic pieces are particularly recognized, and he is a national member of Visual AIDS Archive in New York City.

Just Do It by Miguel Camacho Padilla

Photographer Lance Chang (Ally) examines the artistic dialogue between the artist and his ballet muses, from Southern California to New York. His work is in the permanent collection of the National Museum of Dance and has been described as “alive, organic, breathing and heaving with the efforts of the dancer at once to escape (the environment) and to fuse with it.”

Untitled by Alejandro Herrera

PROUD+ is not just an artistic showcase; it is a celebration of diversity, creativity, and pride. Each piece in the exhibition offers a unique perspective, inviting visitors to connect with the experiences and stories of LGBTQ+ individuals. From powerful portraits to abstract expressions, the artworks presented in PROUD+ are not just visually stunning but deeply meaningful, providing insight into the joys, struggles, and triumphs of the LGBTQ+ community.


Local artists benefit greatly from participating in PROUD+. The opportunity to exhibit alongside national and international contemporaries allows them to gain exposure and recognition. There are so few national opportunities for LGBTQ+ artists. PROUD+ has become a beacon for creatives who can share their work within the framework of a respected gallery and receive the tools to gain new patrons and exhibition opportunities because of this relationship.

Juror Micheal Swank has selected three standout artists for this year’s exhibition that celebrate the unique sense of pride that the diverse community embodies. Andres Juarez-Troncoso, a Transgender artist from Ciudad Juárez, Mexico; Joan Cox, a Lesbian artist from Baltimore, Maryland; and Thomas Diethert, a Gay artist working in San Diego, California. Each artist shines a light on unique perspectives. Juarez’s photographic series “Un Hombre Nuevo (A New Man)” offers an insider’s look at the transgender male experience in Mexico, while Cox’s work premiered in June at the Kennedy Center’s Portraits Project. Diethert’s triptych “Lovers Under Torrey Pines,” inspired by Gustav Klimt’s artistry, explores the universal language of love.

God is Gay [Panel 2] by Ryan Brandimore

My heart sings each year when PROUD+ comes into the public. Our unique individual experiences give voice to the diverse lives within our greater community while harmoniously creating a safe space for all of us to come together in celebration. With so many forces trying to tear us down, it’s important that we find moments like this to come together united.

Going to the Pride Parade San Diego by RD Riccoboni

The Studio Door has become a sanctuary for the LGBTQ+ community, fostering acceptance and inclusivity. Stillman’s own journey has been profoundly shaped by community engagement. When I became serious about my art, I discovered that being a part of a community of creatives my own work and opportunities were quickly magnified. That provided the inspiration to use my extensive business background to create a space where I could offer a safe space for other artists to find their own collaborative journey to success. As a gay man, a part of the larger LGBTQ+ community, I naturally wanted to see opportunities for my people that are often rejected from established galleries and museums who are uncomfortable with creative content and real-world relationships.

Invisible Butterflies by Paul F Yount

Collaborative endeavors like the upcoming Skins Leather Fashion Show in August, featuring local designers presented by Mr. San Diego Leather Earl Grey, and the second year for ART+ LGBT History Month in October with Lambda Archives, Accidental Gay Historian Mike Balaban, and Bear San Diego, are examples of how The Studio Door is shaking up how a traditional art gallery operates.

Eros by Alexander Arshansky

Celebrating its tenth anniversary, The Studio Door is excited that San Diego Pride will honor Patric Stillman with the prestigious 2024 Larry T. Baza Arts & Culture Award at this year’s Spirit of Stonewall Rally. His collaborative efforts and personal artwork have garnered international acclaim, highlighting his commitment to cultural enrichment. Stillman’s advocacy extends beyond the gallery, amplifying LGBTQ+ voices and earning recognition for his impact as a cultural leader. This honor comes on the heels of the gallery being selected as one of San Diego Tourism Authority’s accelerator cohorts for 2024.

Invisible Butterflies by Paul F Yount

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to witness the creativity and passion of LGBTQ+ artists at The Studio Door from July 2 to August 3, 2024. Free to the public, Tuesday through Saturday from 12 PM – 6 PM and at an artist reception on Saturday, July 13th from 6 – 9 PM. For more information, visit