Queen Bee's celebrates 15 years in North Park
For 15 years Alma Rodriguez has been the driving force behind the creative hive of Queen Bee’s Art and Cultural Center.
As she walked through the 8,000 square foot venue she explained, "This is where magic takes place. Sometimes it's a quinceañera, weddings, concerts, comedy, open mics, poetry, you name it."
Plus salsa, swing, metal swap meets and even a classroom to teach pole dancing. Rodriguez pointed out the venue’s battle scars from numerous punk concerts.
"The kids get excited," Rodriguez said with a smile. "There's … scratches in my floor because of that mosh pit."
But even that’s cause for celebration.
"I think my vision for the location was basically, be the hub of art and culture," Rodriguez said. "And provide people with a unique space to create new events, and promote art and music, and dance, and everything that makes people happy."
Even if what makes an artist happy might cause controversy.
"This is a place for expression, this is a place for art," Rodriguez said. "And as long as it's in the guidelines and the policies, then everybody has the opportunity to express themselves. Nobody judges anybody inside here. The way I see it, is like, come in experience and then be yourself. And if you want to create, this is the place to create."
Her current creation is a party to celebrate Queen Bee’s 15 years as a supporter of the arts.
"It's just going to be a party for the community, to everybody to know that Queen Bee is here," added Rodriguez.
Last week, workers were still doing work on the stage. But something is always happening at Queen Bee's and Rodriguez is eager to show how she transformed a dollar store with multiple building violations into a vibrant art space.
"I came at a perfect time," Rodriguez explained. "The economy was pretty much crashed and there was a lot of abandoned places and buildings. The transformation was incredible because it took years, it didn't happen overnight."
She will have a presentation on Tuesday to show how the venue has evolved over the past 15 years.
They'll also be celebrating not just the birth of Queen Bee’s but also the life of Allen Hitch, the late owner of the building.
"He was a very amazing person to support the arts and help me throughout the pandemic and said we are in this together," Rodriguez said.
Allen died earlier this year and Rodriguez is now trying to buy the building to secure Queen Bee’s future. A portrait of her as Napoleon indicates her level of determination.
"Because my father named me Napoleon as a short and wanted to take over the world," she said.
The donation-based community event kicks off at noon on Tuesday and will celebrate this buzzing hive of creativity and its very busy and passionate Queen Bee.