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  • Nic F. Anderson

Valentine’s Day Market Aims To Support Ginger’s Bar, Queer Artists

Patrons mingling in the back room of Ginger's Bar | Photo by Queer on the Street

The number of official lesbian bars in the United States has steadily declined over the last two decades but tucked away in Park Slope on 363 5th Ave., sits Ginger’s, one of three New York City’s lesbian bars (the other two are Cubbyhole and Henrietta Hudson).

Groups like the Lesbian Bar Project and other queer folks have been fighting since then to keep lesbians bars alive and flourishing— artist, jewelry maker and event organizer, Jess Petino, is one of these people.

On Sunday, February 13th, Petino, in collaboration with Ginger’s Bar, hosted the second “Ginger’s Bar Valentine’s Day Market Extravaganza.” The first event was in December 2021.

Petino has pink highlights in her hair and chic glasses. She stood behind her table full of handmade jewelry, prints and other goods, dressed in a pink blazer warmly greeting people who visited her table.

She told Queer on the Street that the idea behind the pop up event was for a few reasons but mainly supporting Ginger’s and celebrating other queer artists.

Jess Petino behind her table | Photo by Queer on the Street

Throughout the pandemic businesses struggled to survive financially – Ginger’s Bar was one of them. “We almost lost Ginger’s,” Petino said.

Ginger’s Bar open in 2000 when Park Slope was considered the lesbian neigborhood and is owned by Sheila Frayne. In April 2020, a GoFundMe was started to help save Ginger’s Bar and luckily, the financial goal was met within 24 hours. As of Feb. 14, 2022, approximately $24,141 had been raised of the $15,000 goal.

“For the first time in 20 years, I’ve had to tell my landlord we won’t be making the rent… Since Ginger’s has to remain closed so no one else gets sick, it really is up to the neighborhood to help us help our staff. I’m so grateful for everything and everyone in our community,” Frayne wrote on the GoFundMe page.

Petino said, “I also wanted to support queer artists and for them to make money.”

LGBTQ+ individuals are statistically paid less than their heterosexual and cisgender counterparts, with the gap widening even further for LGBTQ+ people of color. Events such as this one, allows for vendors to make new connections, get their names out there, and of course, sell their products.

Vendors ranged from baked goods, paintings, jewelry, candles, handcrafted handbags, pottery, amongst other works of art.

Tre’oria Ernest, founder of Medusa’s Mark, greeted people who visited her table with an inviting and kind personality. She began creating custom and hand painted handbags, wallets and backpacks last summer and has been doing it ever since. Her newest collection is based on the seven deadly sins: pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath, and sloth — but in a creative, beautiful way and by no means in a shameful way.

Tre'oria Ernest with her handbags | Photo by Queer on the Street

She is already planning her next collection and is hoping to create the handbags herself. “I just have to learn how to sew first,” she joked.

Melissa Robles of "Simple Sweets by Melissa" | Photo by Queer on the Street

“Simple Sweets by Melissa” by vendor, Melissa Robles, was set up in the front part of Ginger’s. Robles has been baking since high school and went to Institute Of Culinary Education in New York City. She said baking for others makes her happy. “I love giving people that warmth,” she told Queer on the Street.

Another vendor Nik Tan who normally sells at conventions, said the pop-up felt like a “warm and comfy environment” and “it’s nice to chat freely and enjoy ourselves.”

Katie Cundari’s “Candles by Them” caught passerbys' attention, particularly their figure candles. Cundari started making candles in fall 2020 as a “pandemic hobby” after they noticed there were many figure candles but not a “whole lot of representation of queer bodies… not that there’s a specific queer body.”

Katie Cundari with their candles | Photo by Queer on the Street

They make their own molds by starting with polymer clay and going from there. Their candle scents include cactus flower jade, amber fireside, partners sweater (ginger saffron), bed of roses, day at spa, amongst others.

“It’s nice to meet other vendors … there’s a community feel to it,” they said about the event.

Other vendors included painter Vick Morales; visual artist Kim KhouanKhong Sandara; artist and writer Emily Chauvin; tarot readings by Jenna VanWeelden; and others.

The owners of Ginger’s were not available for comment at the time of publishing.

Jenna VanWeelden | Photo courtesy of Jess Petino

Emily Chauvin | Photo courtesy of Jess Petino

Close of Medusa's Mark handbags (made by Tre’oria Ernest) | Photo by Queer on the Street

Right to left: Nik Tan, Emily and Kim KhouanKhong Sandara | Photo by Queer on the Street

Nik Tan | Photo by Queer on the Street

Close up of treats from Simple Sweets by Melissa | Photo by Queer on the Street

Photo by Queer on the Street

Photo by Queer on the Street

Artist Emily Smith | Photo by Queer on the Street

Holy Babe Ceramics | Photo by Queer on the Street

Artist Vick Montes | Photo by Queer on the Street

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