Thursday, November 29, 2007

World AIDS Day: AIDS Memorial Quilt

December 1st is World AIDS Day. I am again remembering the loss of friends, artists and co-workers. One of the goals of the AIDS Memorial Quilt is to provide creative means for remembrance and healing, to effectively illustrate the enormity of the AIDS pandemic. Cleve Jones came up with the idea for the Quilt during the candlelight memorial for Harvey Milk in 1985. San Francisco Supervisor Milk and Mayor Moscone had been assassinated by a former conservative supervisor, Dan White, on November 27, 1978.

Last year for World AIDS Day, I wrote about my friends and co-workers I knew that died of AIDS. While researching for more information about their lives, I discovered the NAMES Project Foundation’s website. They have a database where one can look up names or see a block of the quilt. Below are several panels at honor and remember those friends and co-workers.

The above quilt remembers two men I knew. The first was my best friend, David DeLong. His panel is in the upper left corner. David and I worked together at San Jose Repertory Theatre (note theatre masks on panel). He also worked with the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles (note the museum logo). I wrote some personal memories of David two years ago. David died October 15, 1987 at the age of 36.

The dark quilt panel in the middle of the bottom row honors Peter David Heth. Peter, one of the early casualties of AIDS, died at the age of 48 in 1984. He was a director, designer and actor. He did a lot of work for a theatre now know as American Musical Theatre of San Jose. One of his last production designs was for "Tokens: A Play on the Plague" (note play title on panel) produced by Blake Street Hawkeyes, in association with Theater Artaud. It was a story about the 1665 Great Plague in London.
I believe I only met Peter once but I heard stories about his artistic legacy for years.

The second quilt has panel on the top row in the middle that remembers as very talented designer, Ken Holamon. Ken succumbed from AIDS complications on January 9, 1993, at the age of 45. His panel features his sunburst design for a production of "A Chorus Line". His signature runs down the right side. Many of his designs and research are housed at AMTSJ’s Holamon Research Library of Theatrical Design. American Musical Theatre San Jose provided the resource space for the study on theatre history and design for theatre teachers, designers and artists in the community.

The final panel I am going to share is totally devoted to David Lemos. David died in August 1995 at age 38. David was a co-founder and the first producing artistic director of San Jose Repertory Theatre. He went on to write and direct “Remember My Name”, a theatre piece about the AIDS quilt for the NAMES Project. He worked for the NAMES Project as chapter development coordinator, chapter managing director and executive director.

More details about these men’s lives and artistic accomplishments can be found in last year’s World AIDS Day entry.

Another interesting website is The Estate Project for Artists with AIDS. Their mission:
* to provide practical estate planning advice to all artists, especially those living with HIV/AIDS
* to document and offset the immense loss wrought by AIDS in all artistic disciplines
* to preserve the cultural legacy of the AIDS crisis so that future generations can enjoy, study and engage artworks as aesthetic achievements and historical documents


Jess said...

I haven't seen the quilt(s) in a while, but the sight always brings back the same feelings: sadness, fear, all of the nauseating feelings from those days when the virus was a death sentence.

It's still a terrible disease, but at least there are treatments now for those who have it. Still, so many were lost. So many lives gone so terribly.

Unknown said...

I found this blog searching for info on Tokens, which I saw at Theater Artaud in 1985. It was a truly great production, you are blessed to have such a talented friend.

I'm a 5 time AIDS Rider and former AIDS Ride employee, I'll remember Peter the next time I ride or volunteer.

Unknown said...

I discovered your entry today and just wanted to let you know, as a young gay man struggling with my sexual identity and newly arrived to Washington DC, I was hired to work at Greenpeace for my first “real” job in the early 90’s. David Lemos was development director at the time and there were a number of us gay boys in his department which we affectionately referred to as DEVO. Working with David was a great incubator for a newly out kid in the big city looking to launch a career that could make a difference in the non profit world. Under his leadership, this small town kid saw larger than life out personalities including David, living their live with dignity and pride. As I am sure you know David’s panel, which I visited on the Mall in Washington the last time the quilt was displayed here, includes patchwork of his time at Greenpeace. He was a good mentor.

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