ALL HAIL THE QUEEN
Photographs by Kelly Fitzgerald
The year was 1996, Bill Clinton was in office and the hit song, Macarena by Los del Rio was dominating the airwaves. Photographer Kelly Fitzgerald was first introduced to drag queens while working as a part-time bartender at a local gay nightclub in San Diego. He was captivated by their larger-than-life personalities. Every Friday night they would perform as Cher, Barbra Streisand, Tina Turner and other legendary female vocalists. The 1990’s was an experimental time and drag queens were far from commonplace. Self-expression, performing and entertaining were all means of self-exploration as well as mediums to make cultural statements.
Within a three month time period, Kelly photographed drag queens in San Diego and traveled to San Francisco to photograph Wigstock, an annual outdoor drag festival that traditionally acted as an unofficial end to summer for the gay community. The iconic and groundbreaking photographs Kelly captured show the essence of his subjects; creative, larger than life individuals who were not afraid to show their feminine sides and flamboyant spirit. These queens were pioneers in their own right, trail blazers at a time when their style and fashion wasn’t fully accepted or understood.
Fitzgerald is an adventurer and fine art photographer who has spent years traveling the world with little more than a backpack and camera gear. He is a landscape specialist who has been interpreting culture and the environment for over 30 years. He uses tools such as manual film cameras, black-and-white film and the traditional darkroom to create his silver gelatin fiber base prints.
His photographs have been in numerous exhibits throughout the United States and Europe. Fitzgerald's work has also won several awards including The Golden Light Award and the IPA Lucie Award. He was honored at The Hubbard Museum in Association with The Smithsonian Institution in 2003, and was the first photographer to receive the Gene Harrison Memorial Award in November of 2003. His work can be found in many corporate and private collections across the United States. Kelly is based out of California and Hawaii and travels several months each year to pursue his art.
The exhibit will be on view from July 12, 2014 – September 9, 2014.
An open reception will be held on Saturday, July 12th (6-9 pm) and August 9th (6-9 pm)
in conjunction with Ray at Night, San Diego’s monthly art event.