Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Cultural, political in spotlight as “Don’t Touch My Hair” returns to La Cultura

“Don’t Touch My Hair” returns this weekend to La Cultura in Harrisburg. Photo by Jelani Splawn.

Take a barbershop and hair store, mix it with an art gallery, then add a pinch of vendors and you have La Cultura and Art Can’s “Don’t Touch My Hair” event.

This Sunday, inside of the Verbeke Street building in Harrisburg, natural hair gurus will present twist out demos, barbers will flex their hair cutting skills and vendors will sell hair care products, art, clothing and more.

This is the group’s second time hosting “Don’t Touch My Hair.” According to Elyse Irvis, founder of La Cultura, aside from a few new vendors, the concept of the event is unchanged.

“Don’t Touch My Hair is a cultural and political discussion,” Irvis said. “This event is a way to have that dialogue through art, live performances and retail shopping, all geared toward people of color and health and wellness.”

This month’s lineup includes The Natural Pick, Melanin Essentials and Iced By Renya for your hair, skin and body care needs. The event will feature goodies from Zwild Vegans and Jersey Sweets and clothing and accessory options from Fit 2 U and Eight6 Boutique.

According to Irvis, the event combines everything La Cultura was made for: pop-up shops, art and community.

Irvis and the creatives behind Art Can, a local art collective, chose the hair-themed event because it is a staple in the black community.

“The salons, the barbershops–so much goes on there, we share a lot of resources there,” Irvis said. “ [Don’t Touch My Hair] is a more modern way of doing that, of being in that kind of space.”

Shane Gallup, founder of Art Can, sees the event as more than just a celebration of hair. According to Gallup, the event promotes creative thinking and serves as a network for local businesses and artists.

“Art can serve as a bridge,” he said. “It brings people together and exposes them to different things.”

An artist himself, Gallup will display some of his paintings in La Cultura, but he says that won’t be the only element of art.

In Gallup’s eyes, every vendor, barber, stylist, cook and so on is an artist.

“[Art Can] doesn’t tend to look at art as two-dimensional. A lot of people are artists,” he said. “Whether they look at themselves as artists or not, the world benefits from them watering the seeds of creativity and creative vibes.”

Gallup and Elyse first came across each other at an art show called “Blackout” hosted by Bryan Hickman. According to Gallup, he and Elyse discussed their business ventures and brainstormed ideas on how they can collaborate.

Their first “Don’t Touch My Hair” event in January had more than 30 attendees and 10 vendors. This year, they expect even more participants. Can’t make it this Sunday? Don’t worry. Irvis promises “Don’t Touch My Hair” will happen again and again and again inside the newly awarded Friends of Midtown “Middie” Business of the Year.

“We need a space to bring money back into the black communities,” she said. “La Cultura is that space.”


“Don’t Touch My Hair Part II” is Sunday, May 5 from 1 to 4 p.m. in La Cultura on 214 Verbeke St., Harrisburg. To purchase your tickets for the event or for more information on La Cultura and Art Can visit their Facebook pages at @LaCultura717 and @hbgartcan.

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