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Los Angeles Community Raises Funds for HIV Charity

by Kevin Taft
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Thursday Jun 21, 2012
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AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA) goes star-studded in its third annual "Art Project Los Angeles" auction, to run from June 29-July 1. Taking place at the world-renowned auction house Bonhams, the three-day event will feature an incredible collection of art up for bid. Every year, well-respected artists donate their work such as paintings, sculpture, furniture, jewelry and more, in order to raise money for the charity.

"We wanted it to have broad appeal that cuts across demographics. You don’t need to be a collector to attend and enjoy the evening. It’s just a fantastic way to tie the arts into the work of AIDS Project Los Angeles, and it also helps raise awareness around the need for ongoing support to fight the epidemic," said Ron Valdez, treasurer of APLA’s Board of Directors and event chair of Art Project Los Angeles. Valdez said the concept for the event came out of a feeling that the LA art community would rally around a charity event such as this one.

In previous years, the auction has included works by icons as Keith Haring and Andy Warhol, while this year includes such talent as Ruscha, Roman Gal, Burton Morris, Jillian Kogan (whose work was featured in Manifest Equality, a pop-up art show in support of LGBT rights), and this year’s featured artist, Michael Becker, who has donated art and raised money for organizations such as APLA, The LA Gay and Lesbian Center, and the APLA Health & Wellness Center in Baldwin Hills, where he has a permanent art installation on display.


Celebrity artists include actress Jane Seymour and singer, writer, actor and producer Richard Grieco, whose abstract art has been critically lauded and is often compared to Jackson Pollack. "There’s just about no cause on earth more important than raising money toward a cure of AIDS and helping those who are afflicted with a better quality of life," said Grieco. "I feel privileged to donate a piece so near and dear to me."

It may come as a surprise to know that the former teen heartthrob is also a well-respected and collected artist. "My interest in painting started 22 years ago when I began drawing -- and painting -- from a literal point of view," Grieco explained, offering a glimpse into the evolution of his style. "It wasn’t long until I found that the emotional tangent from which I got the most gratification was painting on canvas, specifically on the ground with a 360-degree view of it. Painting this way, it’s truly the authenticity of unbridled emotion."

The Silent Auction will be open to the public during the day on Friday and Saturday. Friday night will feature an Artist’s reception, with a gala VIP cocktail party on Saturday night complete with a red carpet, a live auction, food and drink, a live DJ and an on-site photo booth.


Expected celebrity attendees include Helena Bonham Carter, Kathy Griffin, Wynonna Judd, Shirley MacLaine, Ross Matthews, Alfred Molina, Pauley Perrette, Sidney and Joanna Poitier, Denise Richards, RuPaul, Jane Seymour and Alfre Woodard -- all members of the event’s Entertainment Host Committee, chaired by Jackie Collins and Barry Krost.

When asked what "wow" moments have occurred in the past, Valdez admitted that there were moments like that each and every year the event took place.

"For me, it’s incredible to see the artists, volunteers, and participants together, enjoying great art -- from the masters to newly emerging artists -- for an important cause," said Valdez. "In our first year, we auctioned off a stunning watch for over $90,000, and that was a moment that definitely took our breath away."


While the event is certainly filled with a bevy of celebrities and a dazzling collection of the finest art around, the main focus is, and always will be, eradicating a disease that has affected so many people’s lives. Grieco agrees there is still much more work to be done. When asked what he felt was the most important aspect still to be focused on, he reflected that "education, prevention and the race to a cure" was at the heart of it.

And with Art Project Los Angeles’s popular fund-raising event, that race will surge forward with the efforts of amazing artists who donate their personal works of art to help continue to fight for a world without AIDS.

APLA is one of the largest non-profit AIDS service organizations in the U.S., providing bilingual direct servces, prevention, education, and leadership.


Kevin Taft is a screenwriter/critic living in Los Angeles with an unnatural attachment to ’Star Wars’ and the desire to be adopted by Steven Spielberg. He can be seen in the flesh on the weekly PBS movie review series "Just Seen It."

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