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May 24, 2013
ArtCares is an annual benefit that contributes to the fight against HIV/AIDS in Cleveland, and it is made possible by a partnership that includes the Cleveland Aids Taskforce, CIA, and MOCA-Cleveland.
Above: Cassandra Opaskar wins first prize in the student competition at the ArtCares Event.
By Kristin M. Rogers
When I think about all the reasons to be prideful and even boastful about the Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA), one narrative that bubbles to the surface is the outstanding community partnership between the Institute and the AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland—a partnership that produces the well-known annual ArtCares benefit.
ArtCares continues to bring something very distinct to the greater Cleveland community. This unique event and art auction is the signature fundraiser for the AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland. CIA’s ongoing involvement anchors the relationship and underscores a wonderful value that is emphasized in the very title of the event—the value of leveraging art-for-caring—caring about and addressing a most delicate social cause. For over a decade now, the AIDS Taskforce and CIA have produced ArtCares, contributing significantly to the fight against HIV/AIDS.
To be sure, this kind of patronage has been going on for years. For many artists this avenue is a fantastic path for philanthropy. However, sometimes artists develop a jaded perspective about “always being asked” to donate art to this or to that. But ArtCares remains shielded from this cynicism. In my years of being involved with the event, I’ve only ever witnessed absolute willingness, earnestness and outright enthusiasm from the entire CIA community—students, faculty/staff and alumni alike. It’s been tremendous observing the unflinching support and bountiful charity from our CIA community to help bolster this event year after year. One cannot help but feel a strong sense of pride.
It’s certainly not by chance that the Institute has such an in-depth relationship to ArtCares. In fact, it was a CIA student that started the initiative. In 2002, student Tony Bowden learned that an artist whom he admired had passed away from AIDS. Bowden came to a deeper awareness about the severe impact that the disease has within the arts community, and he was immediately compelled to act. Along with Howard Lake, a longtime volunteer with the Taskforce, Bowden created the first ArtCares, calling on artists to donate work to help in the fight against AIDS in greater Cleveland. In its inaugural year, over 90 CIA people donated works of art, and more than 300 people attended the event. Since then, ArtCares has continued to grow, with consistent CIA involvement and increased attendance, raising more and more money each year for this important cause.
Above: CIA President, Grafton Nunes accepts the Icon Award on behalf of the Cleveland Institute of Art.
As for the art, it’s already stunning to see the overwhelming support from area artists. Add to that the flood of contributions from CIA and the overall event becomes incredibly stacked with great art from warm hearts. One of my favorite components to ArtCares is the CIA student juried competition. The student element continues to be a spotlight for ArtCares, and 2013 was no exception. Dozens of students donated works in a great range of mediums, and our jurors poured over the selections to determine three top picks. We were very pleased to award Cassie Opaskar ’14, the top $500 award, Mike Helms ’13, for $350, and Samantha Bogner ’14, for $150. Stewart and Donna Kohl have generously underwritten the three recognition gifts.
The 2013 ArtCares event, held at the Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA), marks my second year as a curatorial partner. This year was an undeniable success all around. With record attendance exceeding 1,000 people, the stunning new atrium at CMA was completely abuzz with artists, art collectors and enthusiasts—all, of course, ardent supporters of the cause. It was especially rewarding to have the Cleveland Institute of Art recognized this year as the title honoree for the event. At a key point in the evening, the room’s cacophonous festivities fell to a hush as we were all treated to an informational video, highlighting CIA’s partnership and sponsorship—complete with passages from the Taskforce’s CEO Tracy Jones and CIA President, Grafton Nunes.
It goes without saying that every single moment I spend working on this project resonates as a total feel-good triumph. In the so-called art world, we’ve grown accustomed to sometimes being reminded, “We’re not saving lives, here…” But, without hyperbole, ArtCares can boast that, in truth, that’s exactly what we are doing. And, it just feels like a million bucks to remember the awe-inspiring beginnings and the continued commitment from our very own Cleveland Institute of Art—an academic champion in demonstrating how “creativity matters ”— in spirit, in our communities, in our own lives, and most importantly in the lives around us.
If I haven’t declared it strong enough…
I am very proud to stand with the Cleveland Institute of Art’s passion and promise for really making a difference, and for our stalwart academic citizenship with the AIDS Taskforce.
Way to go CIA!
Kristin Rogers is Art Education and Communications Manager for the Progressive Corporation Art Collection, and an adjunct professor at CIA.
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