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Artists paste portraits of older, queer women across Capitol Hill for gentrification art project

At Seven Star Women’s Kung Fu and around Pike and Pine streets, women peer out of black and white photographs at passersby.

The nine older, queer women are the subjects of In This Place 206, an art project about the gentrification and loss of queer space on Capitol Hill.

“It’s really about taking up the space saying, ‘As you walk by this place, as you stand on this street corner, I stood here, I had a life here, I hung out here, I got my heart broken here,’” Nilda Brooklyn, one of the project artists told CHS. “It’s really just a reminder that there’s always somebody who came before us.”

Brooklyn, a “second generation queer person” collaborated with her photographer friend Adrien Leavitt for the project.

The duo wheatpasted the first set of photographs last summer throughout Capitol Hill at separate locations that each subject identified as being significant to them. Those portraits have since deteriorated or been taken down, but new ones recently went up.

Brooklyn and Leavitt installed another round of the portraits on August 20th at Seven Star, where many of the women were founding members, former students or have supported it. The two also installed photos on August 22nd near the Elliott Bay Book Company, which is selling a zine of the project. The zine is also available at inthisplace.com.

This time they wanted to show the women as a group and remind people of the queer history of the neighborhood.

Brooklyn, a lawyer who dabbles in art, grew up in a queer home on Beacon Hill. During her youth, she spent much of her time on Capitol Hill, which has drastically changed even in the past two years, she said.

(Images: In This Place 206)

(Images: In This Place 206)

Having grown up in the queer and lesbian community, Brooklyn is connected to many older queer women. Those direct connections ended up being the subjects for the project.

Brooklyn and Leavitt asked the women three questions — their name, how they identified and where on Capitol Hill was important to them and why.

The artists decided to display the photos around the neighborhood instead of protected in a frame indoors to see how people and the weather interacted with them.

“You kind of have to release control. We would check on them, but when they were gone, they were gone,” Brooklyn said.

The photo that remained in place the longest last year was at 15th Ave and Republican. It stayed up about 15 weeks.

People added graffiti and doodles to many of the portraits, but while they might create something on the eyes or mouth of the subject, they would never fully cover the face, Brooklyn said.

The photos also include #inthisplace206 on them, so Leavitt and Brooklyn saw people’s photos and interactions with the art on social media. The response has been positive, Brooklyn said.

Leavitt and Brooklyn plan to photograph more women, but Brooklyn is hoping to find subjects who she doesn’t directly know.

“I think it’s important to document queer history, and I also think it’s really important in the queer community to have multi-generational connections,” Brooklyn said.

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Reality Broker
Reality Broker
4 years ago

Is it really gentrification if a rich neighborhood that became inexpensive for a few decades simply returns to its original status?

I’d like to see photos of some of the many affluent people who lived in Capitol Hill before it went downhill economically in the 1960s-1990s.

In SF, perhaps the Catholic community can also arrange a tribute to their neighborhood that was decimated by the LGBT community moving in and taking it over.

Reality Broker
Reality Broker
4 years ago
Reply to  Reality Broker

Sorry, I put “sarcasm” tags in that comment, but it looks like they were stripped out.

Maggie Nowakowska
Maggie Nowakowska
4 years ago

It’s good to remind people that there are plenty non-straight women on the hill who have been here a long time. It was nice to move into a neighborhood in your 20s and know that you would fit in when you started to see your 70s watching and waiting on the horizon. Most of the women I knew/know weren’t politically active; they just =were=.

Max
Max
4 years ago

Hey, great art project and all, but why do you care so much about fitting in? Not a very queer POV there.