DCAP art auction aims to raise money, decrease AIDS stigma

Sunday, November 16, 2003

The number of HIV-positive clients being served by the Douglas County AIDS Project this year is about the same as the number served last year: around 60.

Nothing too startling there, says DCAP director Geri Summers.

What alarms Summers, who came to the Lawrence nonprofit organization about four months ago, is that the number of new clients doubled this year, jumping from four to eight.

The sobering statistics underscore the importance of fund-raising events like the DCAP Art Auction, set for Nov. 23 at Springhill Suites by Marriott, 1 Riverfront Plaza. Doors open for viewing and silent auction bidding at 6 p.m., and the live auction begins at 7 p.m.

About 80 area artists have donated artwork for the 11th annual event that typically draws a crowd of 150 to 200. Works in a range of media have been donated by artists such as Stan Herd, Cima Katz, Fred Pawlicki, Karl Ramberg, Vicki Vormehr and David Van Hee.

Journal-World reporter and DCAP board member Tim Carpenter has created a handmade wooden and upholstered chair for which he's selling raffle tickets, as well as a hand-crafted wooden chest that will be up for bid at the auction.

New this year to the auction is a juried competition of high school student artwork based on this year's World AIDS Day theme: "Are You HIV-Prejudiced?" Kansas University art professor Tanya Hartman will judge the show.

"We actually didn't get a whole bunch of high school folks in, but I think it will be a good showing for a start," Summers says.

Another new feature might entice a wider audience to this year's auction. The Blue Heron, 921 Mass., has donated all of its street-front window space this coming week as a preview area for the artwork to be auctioned.

"This will be a 24-7, stroll-down-the-street-take-a-look kind of thing," Summers says. "We're going to try to fit it all in there."

Last year, DCAP raised $12,000 at the auction. Proceeds go toward the operating costs of the agency, which provides free counseling and HIV testing, an educational outreach program and support services to clients with HIV/AIDS and their families.

Though the Valentine's Day dance is probably the agency's largest fund-raiser, Summers bets that after expenses, the auction will bring in more money this year. But the money isn't all that's important, she says.

"There's an outpouring of contributions from the local artists, which is just wonderful," Summers says. "But the thing that this does even more than that is it puts all of us together in one room saying we're committed to making sure people get quality services as well as to help fight the stigma (of AIDS)."