Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2019-09-04
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



'Art for Life' gears up for annual auction
by Kerry Reid

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

For years, the Chicago branch of Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS ( DIFFA ), an organization composed of architecture and interior design professionals, has raised money for AIDS nonprofits. Some of those who've received DIFFA grants include the AIDS Legal Council ( now known as the Legal Council for Health Justice ), Chicago House and VIDA/SIDA.

However, DIFFA stepped up its profile in the last year through the "Art for Life" auction, which returns for a second year on Thursday, Oct. 18, at Venue West, 221 N. Paulina St. Around 60 works of art—selected through a juried process—will be available at the auction. ( Online early bidding begins Monday, Oct. 15. )

For Art for Life committee co-chair Oliver Aguilar, a senior designer with Gooch Design Studio, the auction isn't just about raising money and awareness. It's also about creating community and connections for the artists themselves. And as an avid art collector himself ( he estimates he owns about 500 pieces of original work ), Aguilar also wanted to help people just starting out as collectors be able to find good work at affordable prices.

"We want to have everyone that comes to our auction to be able to go home with an original piece of art," said Aguilar. "We believe everyone deserves good original art." So he advocated for creating an auction similar to those that have been held by DIFFA chapters in other cities. In the past, Aguilar said "We auctioned off furniture and things that were related to the architectural and interior design businesses."

One way to get original art for less at the auction is through the "Off the Wall" piece. This collaborative effort consists of a large canvas ( around eight feet tall by 20 feet wide ) with sections painted by several of the artists participating in this year's auction. Buyers acquire parts of it through bidding on square footage. So, as Aguilar explained, "I think we started at $200 per square foot last year. Every 30 minutes it goes down to a lower number. Thirty minutes before the end of the event, it's $5 per square foot. But you may not get the section you want, which is your risk if you wait."

The committee did have to put some restrictions on the kinds of art submitted. Aguilar noted that they've also limited the number of pieces. "We had way too much last year because I think we were just super-excited to receive so many artists who wanted to participate," he said. He added "We can't take anything bigger than six feet by six feet." ( The Off the Wall piece is an obvious exception. ) Aguilar also noted that video art isn't featured, although the auction does have a sculpture this year. "We have photography, a variety of painting styles such as abstract and figurative in all types of mediums, from decoupage to oils and acrylics and other mixed media."

But Art for Life isn't just a one-night event. As Aguilar noted, there are "pop-up" parties throughout the year, where participating artists give a sneak preview of the work they're donating. On Thursday, September 20, the BLNC yoga studio in the West Loop provided the wall space for several pieces. Artists and patrons mixed and mingled over hors d'oeuvres and drinks as a string trio played in the background.

Justin Suico, a painter and native Chicagoan, was there with one of his pieces titled Invictus, a vibrant abstract in red and gold with elements of graffiti art. He was also part of last year's auction.

"It's been a great introduction to other curators and collectors," Suico said. "So often when you donate to auctions, you don't know what happens to the piece." By contrast, he stayed in touch with the buyer of the painting he donated last year. Through the connections he made with the auction, he's also participated in some "live" painting events ( creating art on the spot ) as well as other pop-up parties with DIFFA.

Fine-art photographer Gail Mancuso noted that the mix of "cultural event and community effort" makes Art for Life stand out. "Art is almost secondary to the community vision," she said.

But as Aguilar noted, the quality of the work, even from artists who may not be well known yet, has been improving. This year's jurors included Richard Bentham of the Smithsonian Institution, Aron Packer of Leslie Hindman Auctioneers, and Laura-Caroline Johnson of the DePaul Art Museum.

Bringing in new patrons from outside DIFFA's usual target audience has also been important for Aguilar. "Last year we succeeded in having a mixed group of people coming in. We did have our steady supporters in the architectural and interior design industries, but we had new buyers out there who were not part of it." Aguilar estimates that they raised $80,000 last year. This is less than DIFFA auctions in other cities, but he notes that those cities, such as Dallas, are partnering with major art museums, while Chicago's Art for Life is still growing up from the grassroots.

One poignant aspect of the auction is the "Memoriam" section. This year, work by the late Kieran McGonnell, donated by his partner, Gregg Driben, will be featured. The Irish-born McGonnell, who had relocated from Brooklyn to Chicago before his death from a head injury in 2011, was celebrated for working across a wide range of subjects—some inspired by Celtic themes. At the pop-up party, one of his abstracts as well as a Warholian Pop Art homage to a Van Gogh self-portrait adorned the walls.

Aguilar noted that raising awareness about HIV and AIDS is perhaps even more important now that the disease isn't dominating headlines as it did at the height of the crisis. "I think we need to have an understanding that even though it's not a deadly disease based on the media reports anymore, extensive research still needs to happen. I am doing this work for my friends and people I know that have it and I want to support them." Suico noted that for people of his generation ( he is in his early 30s ), there's "a false sense of security" about the risks of the disease.

Many of the organizations that benefit from Art for Life work with chronically underserved populations, including homeless people and youth of color. Aguilar said "I actually see and shake hands with the people who receive the money, along with the rest of my DIFFA team." Building lasting connections with them is part of the continuum with building connections with the artists who contribute their work.

"It is so much more than them giving their art for a donation," said Aguilar. "We consider them as a family from now on."

Art for Life Chicago will take place 6 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 18, at Venue West, 221 N. Paulina St. Tickets are $100 ( including cocktails and "bites" ); call 312-644-6412 or visit .

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

Seventh Annual Edgewater Arts Festival Features 2019-09-15 - CHICAGO, IL — Edgewater Arts Festival is the premier art-focused, neighborhood festival occurring in the diverse Edgewater neighborhood of Chicago. The seventh ...

Gay News

Architecture Center announces new neighborhoods, Year of Chicago Theatre trail 2019-09-10 - CHICAGO ( Sept. 10, 2019 ) — The Chicago Architecture Center ( CAC ) today announced the full roster of neighborhoods and sites ...

Gay News

Chicago Architecture Biennial opens to public Sept. 19 2019-09-10 - CHICAGO ( September 10, 2019 ) — Next week, the third edition of the Chicago Architecture Biennial will open to the public, bringing ...

Gay News

ACE Comic Con Midwest Oct. 11-13 2019-09-10 - ACE Comic Con Midwest will be at the Donald E. Stephen Convention Center in Rosemont on Oct. 11-13. Guests for this year's show ...

Gay News

Wrightwood 659 to present Tadao Ando: Museums and Galleries Oct. 3 - Dec. 14 2019-09-04 - CHICAGO—September 6, 2019—In connection with the 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial, Wrightwood 659 will present Tadao Ando: Museums and Galleries, an exhibition of models, ...

Gay News

NATIONAL Presidential candidates, 'Art After Stonewall,' activist dies 2019-09-03 - GLAAD announced that it will join One Iowa, The Gazette, and The Advocate as national partners for the upcoming LGBTQ Presidential Forum in ...

Gay News

Art exhibit to feature Davis, Woods-Morrow 2019-09-02 - Aspect/Ratio, 864 N. Ashland Ave., is presenting "Thanks for not breeding"—a two person exhibition with Laura Davis and Derrick Woods-Morrow—Sept. 6-Oct. 17. Both ...

Gay News

EXPO CHICAGO on Sept. 19-22 2019-09-02 - EXPO CHICAGO: The International Exposition of Contemporary & Modern Art will take place at Navy Pier on Sept. 19-22. The eighth annual exposition ...

Gay News

Maddow, Coates part of CHF fall series 2019-09-01 - The Chicago Humanities Festival ( CHF ) 30th anniversary fall series will include MSNBC's Rachel Maddow in addition to writer Ta-Nehisi Coates and ...

Gay News

Gerber/Hart benefit set for Sept. 21 2019-08-26 - Gerber/Hart Library and Archives' annual benefit, "Out of the Closets and into the Archives," will take place Saturday, Sept. 21, 7-10 p.m, at ...


Copyright © 2019 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.







About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.