Arts & Entertainment
2 min

Paint it red

Gallery 101's annual auction honours World AIDS Day

Andrew McPhail's piece Patricia is one of many works by local artists up for auction at Gallery 101's Unframed event, Dec 1. Credit: Bradley Turcotte
Gallery 101’s event coordinator, Glenn Crawford, is taking a personal approach to the gallery’s 101 Unframed: 29 Forever event.
 
Crawford’s piece Alphalist will be entered into the annual auction for which the gallery enlists local artists, who submit their work to be sold to benefit the not-for-profit, artist-run centre.
 
“There’s 36 squares, so there’s 26 letters in the alphabet and then 10 numerals. It’s A-Z, then 1-0. Each square has an image of something that starts with that letter. So A is for Abba and P is for penis,” Crawford says with a laugh.
 
He has worked his background in graphic design into the piece: each letter appears in a font and colour that begins with that letter. The finished work will consist of printed pages sewn together by hand.
 
“I’m combining a lot of arts and crafts techniques along with graphic design,” he says. “It’s something that’s quite personal.”
 
Aside from the auction, Dec 1 is also the gallery’s birthday and World AIDS Day. Gallery 101’s gallery assistant, Georgia Mathewson, says the auction dates back to the 1990s, and the impetus for the event comes from an AIDS protest movement that started in New York City.
“A bunch of New York artists in the ‘80s decided to get together to stage a day without art as a message to people out there living with HIV/AIDS,” Mathewson says. “We decided rather than not having any art work, or having a day without art, we’d put art work up to draw attention that way. Why be inactive when you can be active?”
 
Active artists at this year’s auction include Cara Tierney, who will be displaying her piece Have You Seen My Cock? and HIV-positive artist Andrew McPhail, who will auction off his graphic painting Patricia.
 
For many years, the auction followed a strict theme for submissions. The most recent themes adhered to the seven deadly sins.
 
“Some artists found that it was too limiting, while other artists really enjoyed the theme,” Crawford says. “We decided to get rid of the theme altogether and leave it up to the artists on what they wanted to do. Now the sky’s the limit; you’re open to interpret your art however you wish.”
 
This year the gallery invited local HIV/AIDS organization Bruce House to participate because Crawford says it is important to raise funds for those affected by the virus.
 
“We thought it was a great opportunity to partner with local HIV/AIDS organizations to raise awareness,” he says.
 
The gallery has a long history of exhibiting queer art, and Crawford says this is a partnership he hopes to continue.
 
“The GLBT community has been important throughout the history of the gallery,” he says. “When we found out about the happenstance of the auction falling on World AIDS Day, it was something that we felt was important to show solidarity and support for.”