Art for Life auction at Montgomery Park
for AIDS, Portland style
Cascade AIDS Project's annual Art for Life auction, the theme is
Carnevalesco, and people are presumptively supposed to get in the
spirit of Brazil's huge festival.
So where are the muggings? Where are the swarthy vomiting Latinos?
Where are the pasty tourists losing their wallets and their minds?
Whence the thong bikinis and nudity?
Come to think of it, I'm glad this event is Portland-style.
For Life: Drinks, free apps and bargain-priced art from 250
On the other hand, where similarities between the South American
festivities and last month's Portland art auction exist, they are
striking. If you're no good maneuvering through a swelling crowd
of drunks, forget it. Because the event is contracted from last
year's breathing-friendly three floors to one with a tent
outside for the live auction space is at a premium.
Glitterati, literati and all other kinds of "ati" cram
onto the main floor of the Montgomery Park building to swill drinks,
scarf down free apps from 30 great restaurants and caterers and
bid on bargain-priced art from 250 regional artists (including your
Dodging opportunities to schmooze (not my strong point), I long
for earlier in the evening, sipping an Imperial pint with my lovely
wife in the tiny yet uncrowded M Bar, possibly Portland's cutest
watering hole. M Bar closely approximates tiny, hyper-exclusive
five-seater bars in Tokyo's Golden Gai. And if you ever want to
find me, look to the M Bar because if I'm not there, I want
for next year: Dress dark, practice your pivot and bid on instinct.
So what about Carnevalesco? Well, some advice for next year: Dress
dark, practice your pivot and bid on instinct because you'll never
be able to contemplate the art.
On the plus side, it's for a good cause. As we may have forgotten,
AIDS is a deadly, presently incurable disease that's on the rise
due to pathetic human apathy. Thank heavens there are groups like
CAP to keep the issue in the spotlight, spend countless hours throwing
parties like this and using sympathetic folks to raise hundreds
of thousands of dollars to battle the disease.
Park plaza: Maybe it's time to find the event a new venue.
In this case, compassionate artists donate work for collectors
to bid on, restaurants donate food for bidders to graze on, bands
donate music for people to groove on and, hopefully, a whole lot
of money is gathered to fund HIV services, housing, education and
advocacy in Oregon and Southwest Washington.
Yes and maybe the art is all a little bit safe. And one begins
to feel guilty and sleazy wolfing down as many hors d'oeuvres as
one can grab.
But the real concern (if just for the night) is this: If you're
going to try to weave your way down a tight hallway, ostensibly
to look at art, with a glass of wine in your hand, who is to blame
when you spill it on your $200 shirt? Does one blame the offending
elbow that delivered the blow? Or the knucklehead who saw the gauntlet
and thought to drunkenly saunter down with a full goblet of Pinot?
Why does everyone congregate in the halls to chat, anyway? Why
not say: I'd love to chat, let's sashay to an open area, shall we?
I guess it's the lingering caveman urge to huddle in a cave, out
of sight of the saber-tooth tigers.
Whatever the case, lots of stuff is bid upon with perhaps
the real looking-at-art done before things get too crowded. Or maybe
all one really needs is one quick hit, either of the art or the
Pinot, to know what's what.
CAP keeps HIV in the spotlight.
But after two years (to my knowledge) of art auctioning at the
Montgomery Park plaza, it might be time to find a new venue for
Keep things interesting, give the dopes who'd like to stand and
stare at a piece before plunking down hundreds or thousands of dollars
half a chance and maybe five feet of remove.
Finally, nothing but thanks to everyone who sweats to put on this
event and who sweat year-round to keep up the good work of
I'll be there next year, God willing. I hope to see you there,