November 23, 2008

Whatever Happened to "A Day Without Art?"

Almost twenty years ago, the first "Day Without Art" took place as a way to remember those who have died of AIDS--and the impact the virus has had on the arts community. A New York Times article from that era captures a sampling of some 800 events that happened in museums, galleries and symphony halls across the nation.

In New York, in a prelude to the day's activities, about 500 people crowded into the lobby and balconies of the Museum of Modern Art on Thursday night for a service at which Leonard Bernstein dedicated a two-minute composition for piano and two voices to ''those I love who have died of AIDS.'' Calling the evening ''a half-hour of symbols,'' he added, ''What we do tonight is only a symbolic reaction to threatening and ugly issues.''
Today, looking at the on-line calendars for MOCA, The Getty, LACMA, and The Hammer, only the Getty lists events that mark the day. Does silence still equal death?

This got me to thinking...

Around the era that the first effective therapies for HIV were being developed, so was the internet. This means many artists who died young have few references to their lives and work in cyberspace.

In light of this fact, I thought it would be a good idea to encourage bloggers worldwide post on December 1 as a way to remember an artist or art worker who died of AIDS, and show the disproportionate impact the disease has had on the art world.

So come back here on December 1 to read about an artist and friend of mine who almost goes unmentioned on the internet, and feel free to link your remembrance post to mine through the comment section.

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  1. FYI every year the Norton Simon drapes black over a work of art.

  2. I think that is a wonderful idea. I am helping promote the Bloggers Unite for World AIDS Day by running a blog carnival. I am offering some prizes but the real goal of this is to encourage bloggers to blog and blog readers to read about all the different ways HIV/AIDS has impacted us and what we can do about it. Details at I hope you submit your article about your artist friend.

  3. DWA - Beijing, DWA - Beijing, 'Day Without Art, Guerrilla Red Sea'

    We-the Young Guerrilla Informers (YGI)- are heading underground to celebrate a Day Without Art and spread the word about HIV/AIDS through a Sea of Red Ribbons . Riding the subway from Taiyanggong to Guomao and back, Beijing commuters will look up from their newspapers, turn down their ipods, put their video games on hold, and become aware of the reality beyond Line 10. ChART Contemporary and YGI invite you to head underground with us and celebrate a Day Without Art.

    CHART Contemporary 和YGI共同邀请大家和“年轻的猩息”队一同参与这次活动,一同庆祝“无美术日”!

    Thank you Young Guerrilla Informers!

    Today we helped people take a moment out of their daily routines and think about HIV/AIDS and a Day Without Art.

    Tonight awareness will spread throughout the city as mothers, fathers, daughters, sisters and sons return home with a red ribbon or in some cases two. Awareness is about dialogue and exchange.

    Thank you all for participating in ChART Contemporary's mission.

    Together, we are bringing together art and people!

    Stay tuned for more guerrilla initiatives.

    Megan C
    Producer & Young Guerrilla at heart
    ChART Contemporary

  4. The University of Northern Iowa Gallery of Art closes its doors on December 1st every year in recognition of "Day Without Art" and "World AIDS Day." We've done so for nearly a decade, at least since I've been the Director. We've lost so many beloved artists and performers to this disease. It's well past time to take notice.

  5. Hi Michael!
    Thank you for the comment at dontcallmehateme. I took it to my heart, featured you shortly at ergasmus ( and brought to rememberance the great artist Freddie Mercury. Maybe you like it. It's just a very humble post but I had to squeeze it out of me, as there's so much to do in my offline world.
    Have a happy day.


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