Art with Heart in Support of Casey House, Toronto
Art with Heart, a fundraising auction that recently celebrated its 26th edition, brings together the work of artists from across Canada in support of Casey House, this country’s first, and only, hospital specifically for those living with HIV/AIDS. Since its founding in Toronto in 1988, Casey House has served people living with HIV/AIDS, namely providing medical care, but also serving their social and mental needs through programs that aim to reduce the isolation caused by the still prevalent stigma associated with the condition. Casey House was the spot, where in 1991, a gloveless Diana, the Princess of Wales, embraced residents living with HIV, a monumental moment that spurred a global shift in perception about transmission. Casey House continues to be at the forefront of stigma-reducing initiatives. Last year, during its 30th anniversary, the organization launched #SmashStigma, a digital campaign, by opening June’s HIV+ Eatery (named for June Callwood, a founder of Casey House), a restaurant pop-up staffed by a dozen HIV+ cooks and servers.
This latest Art with Heart, held Oct. 8, as those before them, raised awareness, as well as funds north of $750,000, that will directly support Casey House care programs and initiatives. The Art Gallery of Ontario was the place once again for this year’s cocktail preview and auction, with the gallery’s director and CEO, Stephan Jost, serving as the do’s honorary chair and lawyer Brian Pel and Steven Rapkin serving as its co-chairs. Gallerist Jennie Kraehling and II by IV Design co-founder Dan Menchions co-chaired the curatorial committee, which gathered an impressive collection of works for the live and silent auction during the second half of the evening. The artists included ran the gamut from newer-to-the-scene creators such as Peter Chan, Raoul Olou and Esmaa Mohamoud, to more familiar forces such as Wanda Koop, Kim Dorland and Kent Monkman. Also out this evening: Stephen Ranger of Waddington’s, who sits on the Casey House board of directors and lead the live auction; CANFAR CEO Alex Filiatrault; art framer extraordinaire Mitch Robertson; director of exhibitions at Toronto Biennial of Art, Susannah Rosenstock; and of course, Casey House CEO Joanne Simons.