As Retail Manager of the Salem Arts Association I am in charge of the window displays for the Essex Street Gallery. When Jim Bostick approached me with his suggestion for “A Day Without Art” I was totally blown away. He wanted to black out the entire window, piece by piece, for 24 hours to draw awareness to World Aids Day.
For those of my generation and older the memory of the AIDS epidemic is still haunting. We still live with AIDS but the 80s were a different kind of culture altogether. The fear was palpable and the topic nightly. So many were affected that didn’t even know it because its victims were hiding in shame. It was a culture of homophobic finger-pointing and ignorant shaming as well as a scary public naivete regarding how the epidemic was spread. These struggles, times of great loss and inimitable courage inspired incredible stories such as Rent, Angels in America, and Philidelphia as well as countless other works of art, poetry, fiction, dance music and more. We lost so many in that time but the two deaths that hit me the hardest were my favorite artist, Keith Haring and my own father.
Jim had an amazing vision for the window and we worked for hours to cover every piece of work individually with black cloth. He printed up the Day Without Art Declaration of Loss and we hung several copies to further impact the statement. It was truly something and I am terribly proud to have participated. Thanks Jim.