Art Against AIDS Joins the Fund-Raising Picture

Times Staff Writer

More than 130 artists, museums and collectors will join the fight against AIDS today when a major art sale gets under way at the Pacific Design Center's Murray Feldman Gallery.

Two hundred donated artworks comprise the Art Against AIDS event, which will continue through Feb. 5.

Proceeds will go to the American . Foundation for AIDS Research. (AmFAR), the largest private organization in the country funding AIDS research projects, and to AIDS Project Los Angeles, which provides support services to patients with acquired immune deficiency syndrome.

When Art Against AIDS announced its Los Angeles fundraising campaign, artists normally weary of charity pleas willingly donated their canvases as salable donations, some citing personal reasons for their participation.

"When I started out to be an artist. I had a lot of doubts about art's usefulness," said John Baldessari, "and I still do. At one point I thought about going into social work or the ministry because I thought art didn't do any good. So it pleases me that as an artist I can do something to help other people."

Said artist Jill Giegerich: "It makes me angry that the . . . Administration hasn't done a thing. Their response involves mindless homophobia. They've left it up to the individual to alleviate the pain and suffering. Who wouldn't take the opportunity to help?"

Along with the artists, a mix of scientists and celebrities are expected for the kick-off reception and following fling at Studio One. Between the gala and the sale, program organizers hope to raise at least $1.5 million.

"We haven't had to twist anybody's arm," said Susan Martin, a New York publicist who launched the effort along with Anne Livet and the late Stephen Reichard of Livet Reichard, Co., a New York arts-events firm.

"We're young. We're not used to having people get sick and die. I didn't want to feel powerless," said
Martin. Reichard, she said, died of AIDS last summer.

The Los Angeles art exhibit and sale, organizers said, will offer something for every taste, from $400 photographs on up. At the costlier end are a Jonathan Borofsky canvas-in-motion for $35,000, a $30,000 Ellsworth Kelly drawng and a $20,000 Sam Francis acrylic on paper.

More modestly priced works include Laura Lasworth's "Wedl Jarlesberg and His Friend" for $4,800 and Don Bachardy's "Nancy Hirsch” for $4,000.

Said Martin: "They're not stocking stuffers. We've gotten very good works of art."

A similar New York campaign a year ago, which included the sale of a $1.6-million Jackson Pollock canvas, raised $2.5 million. Art Against AIDS campaigns are scheduled for San Francisco in March and Minneapolis in April.

Organizers stressed that 100% of donations will go to AIDS projects. "Funding and research are the only ways by which we can make progress." said AmFAR co-founder Michael Gottlieb of Los Angeles, who is among the first physicians to recognize the disease in 1981, and who served as Rock Hudson's physician.

Ted and Susie Field, of the Marshall Field family, are throwing a $1,000-a-plate dinner in January. Elizabeth Taylor, AmFAR's national chairwoman, is scheduled to attend. David Geffen and Ariadne Getty have already purchased $25,000 tables at the Fields', and the most expensive painting donated, a David Hockney still life for $185,000, has been sold.

Gottlieb and Mathilde Krim of New York, former head of the interferon laboratory at Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research, formed AmFAR in 1985 because "too little was being done," said Gottlieb.

According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control, Krim said, AIDS treatment will cost the nation $6 billion to $8 billion, plus $60 billion in lost production, by 1991.

In human costs, she said, "Each time we lose a great artist or designer or choreographer or conductor, we are impoverished by it and we're going to feel it for a long time."

Laura Lasworth’s “Wedel Jarlesberg and His Friend” is among the works donated to sale.