The U.S. Air Guitar Championships are many things: goofy, occasionally ironic, and more often surprisingly sincere. The word “pretty” doesn’t often get applied to the USAGCs, and for good reason–most of the performers are huge dorks, many have alarming beards, and lots of them wear fewer clothes than you might like them to.

But if anyone can change that it’s local photographer Miriam Doan. I’ve been following her work for years, and I’ve always thought she excels at shooting people, especially people doing something that makes them happy–kids jumping into pools, people playing music, people pretending to play music. Last year she ended up with an assignment to shoot the USAGCs and found herself surprisingly into the whole shtick. “Turns out,” she wrote recently, “this whole thing was about how music makes you feel. Refreshing. No matter how many people were staring at the contestants in silent judgment, they shredded. It takes a pretty big pair to get up on stage and rip an invisible axe in front of hundreds of people.”

Starting this weekend Doan will be showing some of her air-guitar pics at the Lincoln Square coffee shop the Grind. There’s an opening reception Sunday evening from 7 to 9 PM. She promises “Ice cold mini-Coors, a big-hair soundtrack, photos and a 3 minute radio show.”

Here’s a preview: