The work of nearly 30 artists has been donated this year for the Douglas County AIDS Project's benefit auction. The work will be displayed in KU's Kansas Union gallery until Thursday.
Dennis Helm's lithograph, "Unity of Life," depicts two men side-by-side, framed by ripe fruit and the wide, meandering Kansas River.
Although Helms died of AIDS, his 1991 inspiration lives on among 30 works in the Douglas County AIDS Project's second annual art auction.
"It's not a heavy, sad thing. It's uplifting," Judi Kellas, artist and DCAP board member, said of this year's collection.
She helped install the art in the Kansas Union gallery at Kansas University, where it was displayed Thursday --World AIDS Day -- and will remain until next Thursday.
Proceeds from the auction Dec. 11 at Fifi's Banquet Connection, 1350 N. Third, benefit DCAP, which assists 100 people infected or affected by HIV and AIDS each year. Atty. Gen. Bob Stephan is the auctioneer.
"Most artists know of at least two or three other artists who have died of AIDS," Kellas said. "That's been part of our lives."
She said AIDS should no longer be considered a disease exclusive to gay men. How can anyone stereotype AIDS when a growing number of people diagnosed with the illness are heterosexuals, children and women, she asked.
"The whole community is touched by HIV and AIDS, maybe not directly, but indirectly. And, of course, this is a world epidemic," Kellas said.
In mid-1994, the World Health Organization estimated 13 million men, women and children had HIV and 4 million had developed AIDS. In the United States, nearly 250,000 people have died of AIDS.
The state Department of Health and Environment reports that 44 people in Douglas County have been diagnosed with AIDS, and 23 of them have died.
Lisa Winett, fine arts coordinator for Student Union Activities, said the exhibit coincided with Thursday night's SUA-sponsored lecture by Sherie and Michael Johnson, a married, heterosexual couple infected with HIV. A reception was held at the gallery after their talk.
"We like to work with community organizations," Winett said. "AIDS is a big part of the art community. It (the exhibit) will expand the public's awareness of the auction and maybe generate more funds for the AIDS project."
Kellas said money from the auction -- more than $2,000 was raised last year -- wouldn't be earmarked for specific purposes.
"It might pay for a client's rent or to buy groceries. Maybe gas money to the KU Medical Center," she said.
The auction list includes a pencil drawing, "White Dreams/The Moments Before Death," by the late Tom Klaverkamp, who was on the KU faculty.
Stan Herd, nationally renowned crop artist from Lawrence, has an oil painting of ragtime pianist Scott Joplin in the auction.