Drag Officially Transcends the Underground and Explodes into the Mainstream in Unprecedented Photography Exhibition

by | Apr 22, 2022 | 0 comments

  • Mutha Chucka, San-Francisco, CA 2018
  • The Goddess Bunny, Los Angeles, CA 2019
  • Darcelle XV, Portland, OR 2021
  • Carla Gay, San Francisco, CA 2018
  • Harry James Hanson and Devin Antheus

The Museum of Wisconsin Art (MOWA) presents Legends of Drag: Portraits by Harry James Hanson and Devin Antheus on view during Pride Month and beyond. The exhibition showcases national and local drag elders instrumental in securing rights for today’s queer community and championing the art of drag.

The exhibition is on view May 27–August 21, 2022 at the museum’s downtown Milwaukee satellite location, MOWA | DTN. An opening reception will be held on Friday, May 27, 6:00–8:00. A list of related exhibition activities follows.

Artists Harry James Hanson and Devin Antheus, who grew up in the Milwaukee area, traveled coast-to-coast over four years, visiting sixteen cities to meet and photograph the legendary entertainers featured in the exhibition. Hanson and Antheus produced stunning portraits of eighty-one queens shot on location and styled with unique floral elements. While drag portraiture commonly situates performers on stage or in the studio, Legends of Drag spotlights their embodied divinity out on the street. Each photograph is a collaboration between artists and model, who jointly selected the location, styling, and blooms. Twenty-three portraits will be on display, including local queens: Christina Chase, BJ Daniels, Shannon Dupree, Ruthie Keester, The Sugarbaker Twins, and Karen Valentine.

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Legends of Drag is colorful, celebratory, and revelatory—sublime camp in keeping with the subject,” said MOWA Executive Director Laurie Winters. “MOWA is delighted to debut this unprecedented body of photography and to give these artists their first museum exhibition anywhere. It will certainly not be their last.” Their ongoing photography series has already been featured in Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, The New York Times, and Rolling Stone.

For making this exhibition possible, MOWA thanks Presenting Sponsor, Joseph Pabst. Major support was also generously provided by the Heil Family Foundation and The Valentine Fund as well as media sponsors 88Nine Radio Milwaukee, Milwaukee Magazine, and Our Lives—Wisconsin’s source for LGBTQ news, people, community and culture.

The museum’s satellite gallery MOWA | DTN is located inside Saint Kate—The Arts Hotel in the cultural district of downtown Milwaukee. MOWA | DTN is open to the public daily during hotel lobby hours, 7:00am–Midnight.


The exhibition and all exhibition activities will be held at Saint Kate—The Arts Hotel, 139 E. Kilbourn Avenue, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Details can be found at wisconsinart.org/exhibitions/legends-of-drag

Opening Party

Friday, May 27 | 6:00–8:00 |Celebrate the opening and meet the exhibiting artists and the Milwaukee drag legends.

Legends Live Drag Show

Friday, June 10 | 8:00–9:30 | Join Milwaukee queens and the Museum of Wisconsin Art in this ticketed event. Details and tickets available at wisconsinart.org/events/legends-live-drag-show

Artist Talk | Harry James Hanson & Devin Antheus

Sunday, June 12 | 1:00–2:00 | Exhibiting artist and Milwaukee native Harry James Hanson talks about his four-year portrait project and the importance of archiving queer history.

Talk | The History of Milwaukee Drag

Sunday, July 17 | 3:00–4:00 | Milwaukee drag icon BJ Daniels and long-time LGBT historian and activist Michail Takach discuss stories and experiences of Milwaukee drag culture, as well as their upcoming book, A History of Milwaukee Drag: Seven Generations of Glamour.

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