Creativity with a conscience

By |2005-09-08T09:00:00-04:00September 8th, 2005|News|

DETROIT – Socially conscious art collectors have a dream come true event to attend this month. On Saturday, Sept. 24 the Midwest AIDS Prevention Project holds its annual Artworks for Life event, now in its tenth year, at the Masonic Temple in Detroit.
Over 300 local artists have contributed pieces to the live and silent auction event including Charles Alexander, Pewabic Pottery, and Carl Demeulenaere. This year’s event will also feature pieces from national artists Christo and Yoko Ono.
“We wanted to bring in something really special and spectacular for the tenth anniversary,” said Andrew Yee, MAPP’s project and event manager.
Contributing artist Demeulenaere of Grosse Pointe is also on the Artworks for Life Committee and has been involved with the project from its inception.
“I had had many friends dying of AIDS and I thought it would be something extremely important for me to do,” Demeulenaere said. “I thought if I could use my talents, because I don’t have a lot of money, that would be a great thing to do and it opened up a totally new part of my life.”
One of the ways the event opened his life, Demeulenaere said, is putting him back in touch with Sylvia Marciniak, in whose memory this year’s event is dedicated.
Demeulenaere described Marciniak as “a friend, a supporter, a teacher and a fine artist.”
“Sylvia was my high school art teacher at Finney High School in Detroit in the early-mid seventies,” Demeulenaere said.
She was also a founding member of Artworks for Life. “From the first year all the way through last year’s event, she had been struggling with cancer,” he said. “But she was one of our most diligent, one of our staunchest supporters and she was in pain and struggling for many, many years and I really got reconnected with her as a result of the auction work. That was one of the parts of my life that opened up starting in 96 – reestablishing a close friendship with her.”
Marciniak’s family is donating a still life painting of hers for the auction this year.
“I’ve gotten reconnected with her family and it’s been a very intense time. She passed away in May of this year from cancer,” Demeulenaere said. “She was a real sweet person, very spiritual, very kind.”
Demeulenaere will also have pieces in the auction. “I’m known in Michigan as an installation artist who creates meticulously crafted, often miniature scale figurative work and I usually donate drawings to the auction,” he said. “They’re kind of Renaissance inspired miniature scale figurative drawings.”
“My favorite part is always the art,” said Yee. “It’s a great opportunity for beginning collectors and also for people who have been collecting for years. A lot of people come for specific artists that they would like to have a piece from and this is a great opportunity to do that.”
The event will also feature live music, hors d’oeuvres and a pre-event tour of the historic Masonic Temple.
“It’s actually a really neat building,” said Yee. “I never realized how massive this place is.”
The money raised at the event will go to fund MAPP programs, said Yee.
“We would use this to do programs that we would otherwise not be funded for,” he said. “For example, like doing programs at high schools. The state doesn’t fund you for that.” Yee added that a lot of the proceeds from the event would go to youth HIV/AIDS prevention programming.
“The annual MAPP Artworks event is the largest and most elaborate fundraiser that we hold each year,” said MAPP Executive Director Craig Covey. “It is very important to our programming and raises upwards of $100,000 each year. It has become known as one of the premier art auctions and art events in Metro Detroit.”
It’s also “a very fun evening” according to Covey.
“We are expecting upwards of 700 people this year,” Covey said. “It’s a very eclectic and diverse crowd.”

About the Author:

D'Anne Witkowski
D'Anne Witkowski is a writer living in Michigan with her wife and son. She has been writing about LGBTQ+ politics for nearly two decades. Follow her on Twitter @MamaDWitkowski.