GROUNDBREAKING ART AIDS AMERICA EXHIBITION MUST CLOSE APRIL 2 1 The groundbreaking traveling exhibition Art AIDS America must close at the new Alphawood Gallery (2401 N. Halsted Street, Chicago) on Sunday, April 2, 2017.  In its final weeks, visitors are invited to participate in the following special related on-site programming, all free and open to the public:

The groundbreaking traveling exhibition Art AIDS America must close at the new Alphawood Gallery (2401 N. Halsted Street, Chicago) on Sunday, April 2, 2017.  In its final weeks, visitors are invited to participate in the following special related on-site programming, all free and open to the public:

‘Sharing Stories/Open Conversations’ Saturday afternoons

On Saturday afternoons (through March 25) at 3pm, the unique and personal ‘Sharing Stories/Open Conversation’ weekly series invites Gallery visitors to the 2nd floor lounge area to listen to personal stories of individuals who have experienced HIV/AIDS in different ways.

“We’ve created a space within the exhibition for dialogue and community.  We are gratified that visitors are taking advantage of the opportunity to ask questions of our storytellers, share their own experiences or just join the group for support and to learn more about HIV/AIDS,” said Staci Boris, Gallery Director, Alphawood Foundation.

Storytellers include:

  • Joey Terrill (March 11): One of the artists included in Art AIDS America, Joey Terrill, a formative figure in the Chicano art movement and AIDS cultural activism, has been living with HIV for 37 years. Terrill will share his and other long-term survivors’ concerns about the co-morbidities of HIV and aging, the post-traumatic stress of experiencing tremendous loss, the side effects (some still to be determined) of long term use of anti-retrovirals, and the artistic response.
  • Joseph Varisco (March 18): Art AIDS America Chicago Program Coordinator Joseph Varisco, following his own HIV+ diagnosis, began a deep exploration of Chicago’s HIV+ community, developing a queer production practice through the performance series QUEER, ILL + OKAY. Varisco will share how forging a community of artists telling their stories about being queer and positive helped him better understand his own.
  • David Ernesto Munar (March 25): David Ernesto Munar, the President and CEO of Howard Brown Health and former President and CEO of the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, will share his story of living with HIV as well as discuss HIV and health policy—where we are now and where we need to be to turn the tide against HIV/AIDS.

Closing weekend, Saturday & Sunday, April 1 & 2

Art AIDS America Chicago is proud to host a special closing weekend chock-full of thought-provoking and celebratory programming, including extended hours on its final day, Sunday, April 2. All events take place at Alphawood Gallery unless otherwise noted:

Saturday, April 1

Final public tour, to be led by Alphawood Gallery Director of Exhibitions Tony Hirschel [1pm]

The Dead Taste Sweeter Than the Living (after Felix Gonzalez-Torres) by Emilio Rojas in collaboration with Paul Escriva 

A multimedia performance inspired by the Art AIDS America exhibition at Alphawood Gallery and the companion exhibition One day this kid will get larger at DePaul Art Museum, The Dead Taste Sweeter Than the Living is a mobile, interactive event that takes place at both art spaces with a procession in between. The project began and continues with the daily collection of pieces of candy from Felix Gonzalez-Torres’ Untitled (Portrait of Ross in LA), 1991, at the Art Institute of Chicago. Rojas then uses these elements in public performances to initiate a dialogue around mourning, grief, celebration and the impact of loss in queer communities through the AIDS crisis.

[2:30 – 4pm at DePaul Art Museum, 935 W. Fullerton Avenue/4:20 – 6pm at Alphawood Gallery]

Sunday, April 2

Lessons in Activism moderated by Jennie Brier with Condom Cloud performance by Joseph Ravens

Jennie Brier, Director of the Gender and Women’s Studies program at the University of Illinois Chicago and Project Director of In Plain Sight: A Women’s History of HIV/AIDS, will lead a final panel, which explores how the history of HIV/AIDS activism can help us in the current political moment.


Salonathon: Call Forth the Future

This special edition of Salonathon features artists performing in response to the groundbreaking Art AIDS America exhibition, asking what our futures look like as artists, activists and makers.  Founded in 2011, Salonathon is an engine for experimental work, an inclusive creative community and a great party!

[6-8pm – note later hours]

For more information on programming continuing through April 2, please visit

Art AIDS America, the first exhibition to explore how the AIDS crisis forever changed American art, is on display at Alphawood Gallery, a temporary space created in a former bank by the Chicago-based Alphawood Foundation to bring this traveling national exhibition to its only Midwest venue. Admission to the exhibition – and all related on-site programming, including HIV testing provided by community partners– continues to be free and open to the public through April 2.

The Chicago presentation of Art AIDS America features more than 170 significant contemporary works in a wide range of media – from oil on canvas and photography to three-dimensional installations and video.  In addition to Joey Terrill, artists represented include famed Chicago Imagist Roger Brown, Judy Chicago, Chloe Dzubilo, Karen Finley, Robert Gober, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Keith Haring, Jenny Holzer, Derek Jackson, Kia Labeija, Annie Leibovitz, Robert Mapplethorpe, Kiki Smith, David Wojnarowicz and Martin Wong.

Racial and ethnic minorities have historically and presently not benefited from the same visibility as white male artists in shaping the narrative of the epidemic.  The Chicago presentation of Art AIDS America includes additional works by artists, as well as programming, focused specifically on expanding the exhibition’s inclusivity.

Alphawood Foundation, a Chicago-based, grant-making private foundation working for an equitable, just and humane society, is proudly presenting Art AIDS America here.  Each year the Foundation awards grants to organizations, primarily in the areas of advocacy, architecture and preservation, the arts and arts education, promotion and protection of the rights of LGBT citizens and people living with HIV/AIDS, and other human and civil rights.

Exhibition Credits

Prior to Chicago, Art AIDS America appeared at the Tacoma Art Museum in Washington State, the Zuckerman Museum in suburban Atlanta, and the Bronx Museum of the Arts in New York City generating considerable interest and attention at each location.

The exhibition was originally organized by Tacoma Art Museum in partnership with The Bronx Museum.  The exhibition is co-curated by Jonathan David Katz, director, Visual Studies Doctoral Program at the University at Buffalo (The State University of New York) and Rock Hushka, chief curator and curator of contemporary and Northwest art at Tacoma Art Museum.

Major support for the exhibition and catalogue has been provided by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation.  Additional support for the U.S. tour was provided by the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art and by Gilead Sciences.

The Chicago presentation of the exhibition and related programming are made possible by the Alphawood Foundation.

Exhibition Catalogue

Art AIDS America is accompanied by an extensively researched catalogue written by Katz and Hushka. Featuring more than 100 works in color and essays by 15 contributors, it is the first comprehensive overview and reconsideration of 30 years of art made in response to the AIDS epidemic in the United States. Published by Tacoma Art Museum in association with University of Washington Press, it is available online from the University of Washington Press ($45), and will be available for purchase at Alphawood Gallery during the run of the exhibition. After the exhibition closes, Alphawood Gallery will begin work on a companion publication that will document the additional works of art included in Chicago and the accompanying programming as well as include additional essays. Look for this to be available in 2018.

Visitor Information

Art AIDS America Chicago is open through Sunday, April 2, 2017:  Wednesdays and Thursdays from 11am – 8pm, and Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 11am -6pm. Admission to Alphawood Gallery is free and open to the public.

The Gallery is conveniently located at 2401 N. Halsted in Chicago near the CTA Fullerton ‘L’ stop, as well as several CTA bus routes.  Limited free parking is available in an adjacent parking lot, along with more plentiful metered street parking and garage parking nearby.

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