As the City prepares for pride month, organizers are recruiting queer artists for a “Miles of Pride” art walk to spread a colorful celebration of love across Santa Monica.

The bright and striking rainbow-lit pathway will spread through several iconic locations including Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica Place and the Santa Monica Pier. This project is launched in partnership with local non-profit Allies in Arts, an organization that helps provide opportunities for women, BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ artists.

The art walk’s mission is to bring together Westside residents and visitors in a show of support and love for the LGBTQIA+ community, while giving queer identifying individuals an opportunity for artistic expression and exposure.

“The multicolor element of the art walk embodies the thematic nature of SaMo PRIDE, celebrating love in every color and champions the fundamental human rights of all people,” said Mackenzie Carter, DTSM director of marketing and communication. “The project was designed to highlight the work of local LGBTQQIA2S visual artists, raise awareness and provide a platform to support individuality and inclusivity in our community.”

While the “Miles of Pride” rainbow walk first launched in 2019, this is the first year SaMo Pride will be incorporating the work of queer visual artists. This not only helps enrich the Pride decorations, but also provides a platform for artists who face many barriers in the art world.

According to Allies in Art Founder Drew Denny, the vast majority of art featured in major US museums is still produced by white, straight cisgender men.

“LGBTQQIA2S artists are often discriminated against due to sex, sexuality, and gender identity,” said Denny. “That discrimination starts before their entrance to the art world where they are often told their work is “niche,” undervalued and undersold compared to their straight cis counterparts, or tokenized.”

The art world is financially difficult for anyone to enter, being queer makes that more challenging, and the pandemic has only furthered constrained opportunities.

The Miles of Pride project provides paid work for LGTBQ+ artists after a financially devastating year. It is also a great way for these artists to get their name out and connect with other local queer creatives.

“The SaMo PRIDE art walk will create moments of discovery,” said Denny. “Most importantly, people who are just beginning their journey towards coming out will be inspired by LGBTQQIA2S artists who show them they are not alone and that there is a big, beautiful family waiting to welcome them.”

Queer artists also face the same challenges that queer folk of all occupations deal with, including higher rates of harassment, depression, suicide, and domestic violence.

Having a supportive family has been demonstrated to help LBGTQ+ individuals overcome many of these obstacles. If their birth families are unaccepting or unsupportive, many queer individuals turn to open and accepting community spaces.

“A town is a kind of family, so we hope this very public, very accessible Pride celebration will help LGBTQIA+ artists feel like their family is proud of them,” said Denny.

All Southern California artists and art teams are encouraged to participate in this unique project. Allies in Art will be selecting the artists and developing the installation, which will run from June 1 to June 30.

Clara@smdp.com