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May 9, 2008

It's going to be a big one

With over 200 works donated, Art for Life hopes to make history

Columbus--The biennial fundraiser known as Art for Life is all set to break records next weekend.

The Columbus AIDS Task Force is hoping to obliterate the previous high mark for attendance and funds, set in 2006. Over 2,000 people attended the art auction event that year, and helped raise $600,000 for the organization, which provides services in central Ohio to people living with HIV and AIDS. CATF also does a lot of education and other outreach in an array of affected and afflicted communities, including disease prevention.

In a poor economy like now, funds for organizations like CATF tend to also go south, leaving the agency with two options: work much harder to raise funds or begin to roll back on services and personnel, both already stretched to their max. That is why events like Art for Life take on an even greater significance in helping CATF continue on in its mission and great work within the community.

Art for Life was first held in 1989 and has raised over $4 million since. The event’s conceit is that artists, galleries and collectors donate work to be auctioned off. The money raised from the auction, along with entrance ticket fees, go support CATF.

As in past years, there will be two auctions: a live auction of 33 works by renowned artists, followed by a silent auction of 200 works donated for the cause. The live auction tends to garner higher bids, although in past years the silent auction has seen frenzied bidding over several pieces. The live auction works were chosen last November by a panel of experts, as well as through voting by the community.

This year’s Art for Life will be held the Columbus City Center, once a bustling urban mall, recently struggling to survive. The city has been working on finding alternative uses for the space since the city council bought it last year. In the last year a rejuvenation of sorts has begun, with a lot of art activities being held there. Art for Life hopes to help that goal, while also creating a new and exciting aura for the event.

In past years the event has been held at the Columbus Art Museum and the Columbus College of Art and Design.

There has always been a profound partnership between artists and the fight against AIDS, from the very onset of the disease in the early 1980s. Art for Life embodies that continuing tradition at the highest levels of partnership and commitment to help those living with HIV and AIDS, to prevent further spread, and eventually to eradicate this modern plague.

This year’s event is on Saturday, May 10. Along with the auctions, patrons and guests will be able to enjoy drinks, food, and a variety of entertainment acts including DJ Alan, the Columbus Gay Men’s Chorus and other dance and musical acts.

Behind the scenes, it takes an astonishing number of individuals, corporate sponsors and other community partners to make such events possible. This year’s event is being co-chaired by Jose Rodriguez of the Columbus Department of Health, WCMH Channel 4 anchor Colleen Marshall, Karen Bell, dean of the arts at Ohio State University, and CATF board member Dr. Rob Crane.

This year, Mayor Michael Coleman and Nanette Maciejunes, executive director of the Columbus Museum of Art, will serve as honorary chairs.

Rodriguez said that both “have been longstanding supporters of the gay community as well as being of great help in the fight against HIV and AIDS.”

Rodriguez said that they are all aware that “the economy this year is vastly different than it was two years ago.” Yet he is optimistic that the attendance and money raised will match or exceed that in 2006.

“We are sure we will raise what is needed to keep CATF fulfilling its mission and work in Ohio,” he added.

Rodriguez said that this year’s 238 works of art donated is the largest number ever and a fantastic collection from emerging and established artists.

“The generosity of the artists and the gallery community never ceases to amaze me,” Rodriguez said.

He emphasized that the collections in auction will have “something for everyone.”

“Young collectors who want to spend a couple of hundred dollars to more mature collectors who want to spend in excess of ten thousand dollars will all have something to choose from,” Rodriguez noted.

Fancy events like this can be expensive to mount and host. Yet CATF and Rodriguez are proud that they keep expenses down to under 20 percent. According to Rodriguez, the expenses are mostly paid for from corporate sponsorships and other donations--cash and in-kind--so that all the proceeds form the auctions and other sources go directly to CATF.

Tickets range from $75 for the silent auction and party to $250 for a patron reception and live auction. Couples can get into the silent auction and party for $140 while students with a valid ID will get tickets at a reduced rate of $40. The patron reception begins at 6:30 pm, with the live auction at 7:30 pm. The silent auction and general party will commence at 8 pm. For more information call 614-3406753 or visit


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