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Gallery View: LGBT Community Center has pop-up exhibit

With “#MascFem,” the Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center has emerged from months of hunkering down since the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic disrupted life in the Lehigh Valley in late March.

Although the center is still closed to the public, the recent paintings of Broadway makeup artist Joe Dulude II can be viewed in a pop-up retail gallery space along the Allentown Arts Walk. The exhibit continues through Jan. 15, 2021.

“‘#MascFem’ seeks to explore the juxtaposition of the masculine and the feminine inside each of us,” says Dulude.

“In this series, I have used the inspiration from 21 drag queens, drag kings and non-binary performers to create a colorful, vibrant world that questions what is masculine, what is feminine and what is beauty,” Dulude says.

“Number 18” (2020; Acrylic and pastels on canvas; 24 in. x 30 in.) is a portrait of a long-necked drag king with whimsically curly eyebrows and mustache. The work has been purchased by City Center Allentown for a to-be-completed downtown building.

The colorful mixed-gender faces looking out from the 21 canvases were drawn from Instagram posts by drag performers. The works are numbered in the order Dulude painted them.

“This series began when I went into quarantine,” Dulude says. The last painting was completed in August.

Rendering shading and details in pastels over painted images is a new direction for the artist. While experimenting with sealants, Dulude discovered some of the colors would fade away to nothing. Reworking those areas was part of the process.

He found that sometimes the colors would run, forming what he called “drippy marks,” which enhanced the image. “Overall, it worked pretty well,” says Dulude.

Dulude has been a makeup designer for actors in Broadway, Off-Broadway and West End productions since 2003, including “Wicked,” “Beetlejuice” and “SpongeBob SquarePants the Musical.” The makeup master also works in television and film. He received an Emmy nomination for his work on “Jesus Christ Superstar, Live on NBC.”

Working on the set of “Don’t Look Up” for Netflix is Dulude’s next professional project. Cast members include Jennifer Lawrence, Leonardo DiCaprio, Meryl Streep and Cate Blanchett.

Dulude, who is based in western Massachusetts, is an educator, performer and fine artist working in a variety of mediums. He taught at Muhlenberg College from 2013 - 2019.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, in-person programs and services were canceled through December at the Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center, 522 W. Maple St., Allentown.

“We‘re trying to be very COVID-safe with this exhibit, but also provide opportunity for people to engage with the arts in a way we’ve all been missing,” says Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center Executive Director Adrian Shanker.

Face masks are required when entering the gallery and hand sanitizer is available. A limited number of visitors is allowed to ensure social distancing.

Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center’s pop-up retail gallery, 21 N. Seventh St., Allentown. Gallery hours: 11 a.m. - 6 p.m. Tuesday - Friday, and by appointment, Closed Saturday - Monday. Information: www.bradburysullivancenter.org; 610-347-9988

PRESS PHOTO BY ED COURRIER From left: Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center Executive Director Adrian Shanker and artist Joe Dulude II with “Number 18” (2020; Acrylic and pastels on canvas; 24 in. x 30 in.) by Dulude.