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Staying alive
Art and World AIDS Day 2003
BY RANDI HOPKINS

Iím going to start with some grim facts that we all know but that usually remain on the back burner of our consciousness: HIV/AIDS is still with us and claiming lives at an alarming rate. The National AIDS Trust reports that five million people worldwide were newly infected with HIV last year, more than new 14,000 cases every day. AIDS took three million lives in 2002 alone (more than 28 million have died since it was first diagnosed), and the estimated number of people living with HIV/AIDS is more than 42 million. The face of the disease has become less horrifying because of advances in research and "drug cocktails" that enhance the quality of life for many of those fortunate enough to live in the richer nations, but the suffering continues.

In 1988, the World Health Organization designated December 1 as World AIDS Day. At first this was observed in the visual-art community as a "Day Without Art," when artists lost to the disease were commemorated by blank walls and black video screens. But it was quickly decided that an affirmative approach was more appropriate, and projects focused on healing and hope sprang up. This marks the 15th year that two of Bostonís finest galleries will observe World AIDS Day with special exhibitions. Opening this Saturday, "The Annual AIDS Benefit Exhibition" at Barbara Krakow Gallery offers work donated by nearly 100 artists on sale for $350 each, with all proceeds going to the Boston Pediatric and Family AIDS Project and the African AIDS Initiative International. Work by Robert Bauer, Maryellen Latas, and Douglas Weathersby (to mention only a few) is a steal at this price; applaud the generosity of the artists as well as that of the gallery. Likewise, "Paper Prayers Fifteen," opening at Howard Yezerski Gallery on December 6, shows works on paper created and donated anonymously by local artists and community members. Viewers are invited to take a prayer and make any size donation to the Boston Pediatric and Family AIDS Project. Anyone may donate a prayer as well; bring or send your heartfelt work on paper to the gallery by December 5.

For the full 24 hours of World AIDS Day each year, the vast, rotund Cyclorama at the Boston Center for the Arts is transformed by artist Michael Dowling into the participatory multimedia installation "Medicine Wheel," an inspiring vigil comprising dance, song, and prayer. Dowling is there now, working on this yearís installation, and weekdays through this Tuesday you are welcome to drop by and talk to the artist, who is a role model for changing lives through art.

Also on view as December edges into the picture: the Carpenter Center at Harvard is becoming an increasingly visible locus for contemporary art, and next Thursday the exhibition "Wim Wenders: Photos" opens there, with photographs taken by the famed German director of Paris, Texas, Der Himmel über Berlin/Wings of Desire, and Buena Vista Social Club. Also next Thursday, at 6 p.m., the Carpenter Center hosts a talk by provocative painter Su-en Wong, whose images of evolving girlhood evoke fantasy, innocence, and sexuality. The work is beautiful and disturbing; the artist should be fascinating.

"The Annual AIDS Benefit Exhibition" is at Barbara Krakow Gallery, 10 Newbury Street, November 29 through December 20; call (617) 262-4490. "Paper Prayers Fifteen" is at Howard Yezerski Gallery, 14 Newbury Street, December 6 through 24, with an opening reception on December 6 from 3 to 5:30 p.m.; call (617) 262-0550. Michael Dowling is creating "Medicine Wheel 2003" at the Boston Center for the Artsí Cyclorama, 539 Tremont Street in the South End, through December 2, and is available there weekdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. On December 1, from midnight to midnight, the completed installation will be the site of a very active observation of World AIDS Day; call (617) 426-8835. "Wim Wenders: Photos" is at the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, 24 Quincy Street in Harvard Square, December 4 through January 11, and Su-en Wong will speak there on December 4 at 6 p.m.; call (617) 495-5666.

 


Issue Date: November 28 - December 4, 2003
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