An abundance of no-cost artistic events is available in Burlington this weekend.
Vice + Vulnerability
Photographer Brandy Swartz is the program director at the Art Center of Burlington, and on Saturday, May 14, this month's installment of Vice Night spotlights Swartz's photography in a solo event called "Vice + Vulnerability: Photography By Brandy Swartz."
The topic is, loosely, the LGBTQ community in Iowa and Illinois.
"Our goal with Vice Nights is to focus on topics that have different opinions so we can open up conversation in the community through art," Swartz said.
Swartz photographed 12 models, each person representing a different color of the Pride flag with their own personal story of LGBTQIA+.
The 12th model is a composite of the 11 Pride colors.
The original rainbow flag became a symbol of the gay community when San Francisco artist Gilbert Baker introduced it in 1978 with the rainbow spectrum of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet to represent life, healing, new ideas, prosperity, serenity and spirit.
The flag since has gone through several revisions and now includes black and brown for LGBTQ people of color, with white, blue and pink representing the transgender community.
"I wanted to do an editorial-style shoot, the contrast being that each one of the models has written a letter to their younger self, and each photo will be displayed with their personal letter to their younger self," Swartz said. "Every one of these humans has their own story of their journey of finding their identity."
Swartz' shows consist of photos printed on fabric; last year's was on velvet, this year it's silk.
Vice Night wasn't called that when it began in May 2021.
"It started because I wanted to do a show called Vice and Vulnerability," Swartz said. "The show went really well, so (then-ACB director) Tammy McCoy contacted me asking if I had any ideas on how to continue shows that were similar to mine, because it drew and audience that doesn't normally come to the Art Center."
The two women decided to try a quarterly approach, wherein Swartz would scout out emerging artists or artists who have never had their own show — unknowns and rookies who weren't well known or maybe didn't have the confidence to put themselves out there.
"Since then we've had three shows, and we decided to call them Vice Nights," Swartz said.
Art can be a powerful catalyst in developing new ideas, sparking creativity and discovering new ways to approach problems. It isn't always the end product; rather, it's the process that inspires creativity.
Each Vice Night is a one-night stand.
"It's kind of a pop-up show designed to be alternative, not a typical art show," Swartz said. "I try to influence my artists and mentor them to be more immersive, whether through slide show or different lighting, different ways of framing and presenting their work."
Swartz, a long-time destination wedding and travel photographer, began her career at the age of 17 while attending high school in the Chicago area. She has shot more than 300 weddings in exotic locations including Iowa, Ireland, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Cabo San Lucas, Hawaii, Barbados and Jamaica.
"Vice Night has been focused on photography, but that doesn't necessarily mean it all has to be photography," she said. "We have many future shows in the works that include different mediums such as ceramics and paint."
Indeed: Next January's Vice Night features ceramic artist Jessi Tucci in a look at the medical expenses of long-term illness.
For this Saturday's show, Tucci offers a collage of knowledge, historical facts and icons and important milestones of the community.
All topics for Vice Nights have to meet certain criteria but don't have to be controversial, just different and unique. Vice Nights are for the not-mainstream crowd.
Saturday's event is sponsored by Lonnie Schuyler and includes music by deejay Matt Rissi, drag show production by Clayton Pullen and Elle S. Dina with makeup by Madeline Hollingsworth and lighting by Ramon Gallegos, florals by Stephanie Field, vinyl titles by Carlee Whitaker, and the Tucci collage.
The show will be installed Friday and on view Saturday; the big party is Saturday night 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Drag show starts at 8 p.m. Admission is free. Cash bar.
Read more about Brandy Swartz at brandyswartz.com.
The Silver Singers of Burlington presents "It’s a Grand Night for Singing" at 6 p.m. Thursday in The Loft at First Methodist Church, 416 Jefferson St., in Burlington.
The free concert features the music of Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein and is open to the public.
The Silver Singers is a local community-wide singing ensemble of people aged 55 and over under the musical direction of Randy Lee Webster.
The group was formed 25 years ago by Lorene Ellerhoff and went on to star at Steamboat Days Senior Citizen Day.
"All of our participants volunteer their time for rehearsals, performances and travel time because we love to sing, play, and perform and share the joy of that with our audiences," Silver Singer Mike McCullough said.
The group meets on Wednesday afternoons at 3 p.m. in the choir room of First Methodist Church. No audition is required, and newcomers are always welcome.
The Loft is located on the second floor of 416 Jefferson; an elevator is available.
Financial donations are welcomed.
How to get free tickets for an upcoming magic show
Who doesn't love magic? Who doesn't love free tickets?
Burlington Riverfront Entertainment loves 'em both, and they love kids, too.
On Friday, May 13, visit the Burlington Memorial Auditorium box office between the hours of 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. to pick up free tickets for your kids to see "The Magic of Rob Lake" in September.
Illusionist Lake was a finalist on "America's Got Talent" and performs at BMA September 24-25. For every adult ticket purchased
Friday, Pritchard Broadcasting will match it with a free ticket for your child, up to 100 kid tickets.
Adult tickets start at $25. Regular kid admission is $15. Call (319) 753-8111 or visit burlingtonriverfront.org for more information.
This article originally appeared on The Hawk Eye: Celebrate the LGBTQ community with art and other free entertainment