Philly trans artists Mel Calantropio and Meg Potoma are launching Philly’s first Trans Art Market, 2-6 p.m. March 28 at Tattooed Mom.
Calantropio is a self-taught visual artist focused primarily on digital art and illustration. Potoma is a mixed-media artist with a background in art therapy, who creates art for illustration and does collage.
The idea for the venture came when the two found that they couldn’t find quite the right fit for their vision at similar styled arts venues that were taking place in the city.
“I was asked a number of times to participate in markets that were designated for women or trans women or binary folks, and they didn’t seem like the right kind of environment for who I am and how I identify,” Calantropio said. “I really started thinking about how there’s no right way to be trans and no right way to be nonbinary, and there wasn’t a space specifically for trans and nonbinary artists in the city. I felt like I needed to create that space.”
During this time, Potoma was brainstorming and forming a transgender artist’s collective in Philly. When the two found how aligned their visions were, they contacted Tattooed Mom, because the venue is “a queer and trans-friendly establishment,” according to Calantropio, adding, “They were more than thrilled to provide a venue for the very first Trans Art Market.”
The two said that so far the response from the community to the upcoming Trans Arts Market has been encouraging.
“Since announcing the market, we’ve received so much interest,” Calantropio said. “We’ve had over 50 people apply for the event and a couple hundred followers on our Instagram and Facebook events. It’s been a positive reception. We have a lot of people that are agreeing that this is really important and really glad to see it coming to Philly.”
Potoma added that they hope to be able to expand the scope of the Tran Arts Market in the future.
“Hopefully the Trans Art Market will lead to other events where we will have trans artists performing, and poetry readings,” they said. “We’re hoping to set an example.”
Calantropio said that the market is open to trans and nonbinary artists of all styles, and all attendees are welcome who are able to patronize a bar.
“We have people applying that are into ceramics. We have illustrators. We have people who make handmade goods,” they said. “We definitely want to welcome all to the event. It is at Tattooed Mom, so it’s 21 and over this time around. We’re working really hard to make the next one inclusive for all ages and all abilities as well. We’re starting kind of small this time, but we’re looking to grow this into something much bigger.