Local Art, Open HEARTS | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Local Art, Open HEARTS

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"Green with Envy" is one of Tony Davenport's three pieces with the artist's signature style in the auction.

Where can a potential art buyer find pieces from Bewey Bowden, Jason Anderson, Tony Davenport and Stephanie Marie Robertson, to name a few, under one roof? A pop-up art gallery, of course: the 19th annual MS HeARTS Against AIDS.

MS HeARTS Against AIDS volunteers have worked to improve education and awareness about the disease that claims the life of five people every 60 seconds. Just six years ago, the Mississippi Department of Health reported 8,330 people were living with HIV; 4,224 of them received little or no health care in 2005. The nonprofit, an entirely volunteer-supported organization, sponsors events every year to raise financial support for other groups that also invest in AIDS education and awareness, such as the South Mississippi AIDS Task Force, Sacred Heart Southern Mission and Mississippi AIDS Episcopal AIDS Committee.

Since 1993, the organization, which has raised more than $900,000 to date, gives grants to groups working to raise AIDS awareness and focuses particularly on requests for funding specific capital and client services. Potential grantees can apply for funding through Feb. 28.

Laura DiStefano, HeARTS chairwoman, says: "I work with a great group of people and am passionate about AIDS education throughout Mississippi. The organization hosts events each year that bring in financial support for the cause, but none is as large as our annual silent and live art auction benefit." One hundred percent of the proceeds go toward the mission of the organization and those it supports.

Artists have donated more than 200 pieces of artwork for a silent and a live auction. Musicians Scott Albert Johnson, Eric Stracener and The Frustrations, Mama's Black Sheep, Natalie Long and Clinton Kirby join the artists represented in the silent auction to provide entertainment throughout the evening of Feb. 12 at Hal & Mal's.

Another way the organization raises money and celebrates the work of local artists this year with the color T-shirts emblazoned with Jackie Ellen's "Too Soon" painting (also the selected work for this year's promotional materials) on the front. Image Gallery and Southern Breeze Gallery have the shirts available for purchase.

For a sneak peak of the art featured in the silent auction and to purchase tickets for the evening, visit the MS HeARTS Against AIDS website at mississippihearts.org. The event is Saturday, Feb. 12, at 6 p.m. at Hal & Mal's (200 Commerce St.).

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