Upcoming Summer Events

Once again we are gearing up for a busy summer season of outdoor festivals and art exhibits.  June is shaping up to be a crazy busy month. Fresh on the heels of our successful Exhibit at Toronto’s iconic Gladstone Hotel, we continue to expand our profile into the Toronto area with a new Exhibit opening at the Steam Whistle Brewery’s Art Gallery.  We will be displaying our most recent artwork along with old favourites for the entire month in its wonderful Roundhouse.

Shortly after the Steam Whistle opening, we will be in downtown Sarnia on Saturday June 5th and 6th participating at its big outdoor festival called ArtWalk. It will be our first time participating and we are excited to bring our unique message of art and social consciousness to this part of Ontario.

While some of us are still in Sarnia, Hendrikus Bervoets, the Executive Director of Art for AIDS International, will be back in Toronto displaying our wares for four days throughout the child welfare conference of the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies.

The last weekend of June (the 25th, 26th, and 27th) finds us back in our hometown of London Ontario for the International Food Festival.  It will be our first year participating at this event.  There will be music along with lots of interesting food from all over the world and we always find that a conducive environment for communicating our message and selling our artwork.

Summer in the city will find us once again participating in London’s premier outdoor festivals at Victoria Park.  Sunfest occurs the second weekend in July the 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th.  Sunfest, with its multicultural theme of music from all over the world, is a wonderful place for us to meet people from differing cultural backgrounds. They make a very receptive audience for our international artwork that has been created in six countries from around the world.

We have two weeks to recover before we participate in London’s well-known and loved Ribfest that runs from July 29 to August 2.  Ribfest is always a popular destination for Londoners to visit during the Civic holiday weekend and we certainly have a great time being part of it.

We are particularly pleased to have such a busy summer schedule because it provides us with multiple venues in which to display all the new interesting and dynamic artwork that we have created in the last several months. We are looking forward to showing off our new collages from recent workshops in Johannesburg South Africa, schools here in Ontario, and artwork from Katimavik young people from all over Canada who are participating in Canada’s number 1 volunteer program.

Please come visit us. We hope to talk to as many people as possible this summer about what we do at Art for AIDS.  We remain committed to our unique style of social justice that expresses itself through art as a way to raise much-needed funds for a serious global issue.

Getting Ready for the Gladstone Hotel Exhibit

It seems odd in retrospect that after almost a decade of hosting exhibits and workshops with students throughout Ontario and around the world, that we have never hosted an exhibition in Toronto (despite the incredible support we have received from local schools and individuals).  To rectify this we have been working hard to ensure that 2010 will see no shortage of activity in the greater Toronto area.  The first of what will be many events on the horizon will open this Friday, April 9th, at the famous Gladstone Hotel on Queen Street West in Toronto.  Located in their second story gallery, this exhibit will feature 25 works of art made by internationally recognized artists from Africa, North America, Europe, Latin America, and Asia as part of Art for AIDS' International Portfolio.  This work is exhibited alongside 40 unique works of art made by students from Canada, Uganda, South Africa, Mozambique, and the Netherlands.

We finalized hanging the exhibit yesterday and it will be available to view from today until next Sunday when the exhibit will be taken down.  Regular hours during the week will be 9 until 3 and the official opening will occur this Friday from 7PM until 10 PM.

We strongly encourage everyone to come out and enjoy the opening, learn more about Art for AIDS, and, if you are so inclined, purchase a piece of art.  The student prints will be available for $75 each framed and the international portfolio pieces will be sold individually for $550 each.

All of the proceeds from the sale of this work will be directed grassroots civil society organizations that assist women and children affected by HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa.  In the past Art for AIDS International has worked with and contributed to a number of inspiring organizations in South Africa, Mozambique, Uganda, Kenya, Zimbabwe, and Malawi.

Just in case anyone wanted a sneak peak of the exhibit, or if you are unable to attend I thought I would attach a photo.

A sneak peak of the upcoming exhibit at the Gladstone Hotel

As I mentioned above, the Gladstone is only the first of many upcoming events in the Toronto area.  To find out about events in Toronto or elsewhere in the world, please visit our website at www.artforaidsinternational.org, or follow us on Facebook and Twitter by following the links to the right of this post!

The next exhibition will be hosted in the Steam Whistle Brewery this summer for an entire month. Please check back soon for more details.

We hope to see you all this Friday!

The Gladstone Hotel is located at 1214 Queen Street West, in Toronto between Ossington and Duffern.

For more details contact us at [email protected]

Art for AIDS Apartheid Museum Opening: The day has come!

apartheid museum invitation

Tomorrow marks a milestone for Art for AIDS International! Hendrikus Bervoets, founder of Art for Aids International, will be on his way to an incredibly busy two weeks in Johannesburg, South Africa. South Africa was the original African connection for Art for Aids International making it truly inspiring that after six years of hard work and patient perseverance, Art for AIDS is opening an exhibit at arguably the most important and certainly the most popular museum in South Africa, The Apartheid Museum. CONGRATULATIONS HENDRIKUS! For more information about what Art for AIDS International will be doing in South Africa, CLICK HERE!

The Art for AIDS Gallery- A Transformation of Space

The current Art for AIDS International gallery space
The current Art for AIDS International gallery space

By Daisy Oliver
(Art for AIDS volunteer coordinator)

It’ s hard to believe, that only one year ago, the gallery and venue of Art for Aids International, was nothing but a frumpy storage space. Now, as witnessed on its successful October 1, 2009 First Anniversary Opening, the space beautifully boasts the original and diverse artwork of the ever evolving Art for AIDS organization.

There is extraordinary power in a creative act that can transform something ugly into a thing of beauty. Art for AIDS International has been built upon this philosophical cornerstone.

One of its defining qualities is its ability to transform the political and moral ugliness of the AIDS pandemic into artistic statements of beauty and hope as represented in its Kids for Kids collage prints. It is, therefore, somehow fitting that the same philosophy was used in finding a physical space for our organization.

Art for AIDS International opened its new gallery in the lower level at 242 Dundas Street at the end of September 2008. The opening on Sept 26th was the culmination of a long tedious process of reclaiming a derelict and very ugly space and changing it into an oasis of serenity and beauty.

The new gallery represents a stunning achievement of creative transformation on the part of Hendrikus Bervoets, CEO of the organization and his son Jean Paul Bervoets.

Hendrikus and Jp had been searching for some time for a potential space into which Art for AIDS could move.  Its ever expanding inventory of Kids for Kids prints had outgrown the basement office in the Bervoets’ home. Art for AIDS needed a larger space but the cost was a critical factor since the organization is non-profit. This meant looking at places others would consider unrentable. Consequently, it also meant copious amounts of searching.

In the late winter and early spring of 2008, the Bervoets’ found a place in the basement of a building on Dundas Street, in London, Ontario, that held promise.  The site had not been used for anything other than storage in decades.  It was dank, dark, and stank from mold and damp. There were no lights and no plumbing. But Hendrikus, with his refined artist’s eye, saw the latent potential of the place beyond the refuse and the rubble. It just needed some work to fix it up.

There then began a 6 month joint renovation project between the landlord, his contractors, and Hendrikus himself and whatever volunteers he could muster up to help.  Ceiling tiles were taken down and hundreds of clumps of glue individually chipped off, marble floors scrapped clean of old paint, new wiring and plumbing installed, everything painted from top to bottom, new shelving and fixtures installed, new doors added. Hendrikus did much of the grunt work himself always fuelled by an inner vision of what could be.  Turning something ugly into something beautiful often involves just a lot of plain old-fashioned hard, dirty work and a dream.

When you come into the Gallery now, you will see white walls highlighting the Art for AIDS prints that are softly lit with track lighting. You will see our beautiful marble floors polished to a soft gleam. At the end of the Gallery, set against a bright red wall, is a handmade receptionist’s desk over which hangs a stained glass representation of the Art for AIDS International logo.

Since its opening, the Gallery has been used for board meetings, for student events, for art workshops, for corporate luncheons and even concerts. It has become a downtown oasis for creative activity and a fun place to come visit.

The Gallery is open from Tuesday to Friday, 11am to 6 pm and on Saturdays, noon to 4 pm. We welcome visitors to come and see our wonderful space and browse our art collection. Don’t take my word on it; experience the radical transformation for yourself!

Grabbed by Art for AIDS International: A Volunteer’s Perspective

By Daisy Oliver
(Art for Aids Volunteer Coordinator)

Sometimes an idea grabs hold of one’s imagination and won’t let go.

I was first grabbed by Art for AIDS International on Dec 1st, 2006. World AIDS Day is an odd date for an anniversary but it marks the occasion when I descended the stairs into a church basement and stumbled upon an Art for AIDS display. A charming young man gave me the spiel. He introduced himself as JP Bervoets, son of founder and current art director, Hendrikus Bervoets. He was very persuasive. I would later recognize this as a family trait. I was immediately hooked on  the Bervoets' vision.

Now a year after that first encounter, my home is adorned with a collection of Kids for Kids prints which continues to grow. They have also become my primary source of gift giving. In addition, I am a volunteer with the organization doing what I can when needed.

I am now the Volunteer Coordinator and also Art for AIDS No. 1 fan.

It goes back to having my imagination captured. Art for AIDS swept me off my feet with its concept that combines the themes of individual artistic expression and global social justice. In a world that frequently feels like it is going to hell in a hand basket, I recognized immediately that Art for AIDS exuded a type of transformative energy that is desperately needed to heal this planet. It’s  appeal lies in its ingenious ability to foster hope on both the individual and the global levels for the common good. It is one powerful ideal.

The actual organization is rather complex because it works at multiple levels in the pursuit of its dual goals of raising public awareness of the global pandemic of HIV/ AIDS through the artistic expression of youth in both Africa and North America as well as raising funds through the sale of their artwork for HIV/AIDS relief work.

In its simplest form, however, it can be seen as a forceful instrument of transformative pedagogy. Hendrikus Bervoets, the founder of Art for AIDS and an artist by profession, is invited into a school where he talks to the students about the tragedy of the AIDS pandemic set in context of global social justice issues. They are then invited to translate that learning into an artistic statement that uses collage techniques and magazine images. Some of these collage works are then chosen to be produced into original machine-made limited edition prints which the student artist signs and then donates back to Art for AIDS. These prints are then sold publicly to raise money for carefully selected African projects that focus on assisting women and children affected by the AIDS pandemic.

There can be no finer example of learning that combines the heart, the head and the hands.

Over the last 3 years, I have watched many different pieces of art work come in and go out of the Art for AIDS inventory. I am amazed at the uniqueness and strength of the artistic vision that each piece represents in its response to global suffering. The moral caring that goes into each print is its own statement of optimism for the future and a reminder that change is possible.

With that kind of generative energy involved with Art for AIDS International, it is impossible to have too many prints. I continue to purchase new ones. It is my personal collection of hope.