By Natalia Cornett
â€śThrough These Eyesâ€ť is one of the most unique and inspirational art fundraisers hitting the LGBTQ community - and San Francisco - this year. With an expected 300-400 people attending, including donors, the general public, press, local celebrities and artists, you will want to come and see what all the hype is about.
The project was inspired by former corporate â€śhackâ€ť (his phrase, not mine) Jim Rosenau of Jordan, Miller and Associates, an LGBTQ-focused financial consultant firm. Rosenau was looking for ways to help his community and become involved with the Richmond/Ermet AIDS Foundation (REAF) and the many organizations they support. It was Rosenau's desire to attract a younger crowd to REAF that formed part of the inspiration behind the â€śThrough These Eyesâ€ť youth photography exhibit.
Brandon Miller and Joanne Jordan, the heads of Jordan, Miller and Associates, and long-time supporters of LGBTQ causes both locally and nationally, funded the program. Gallery owner Joan McLoughlin donated her gallery space and coordination efforts for the exhibition. The McLoughlin Gallery at 49 Geary St. is meant to be an open space for the community to engage with art without feeling intimidated.
Thomas Brown, a 26-year old International Business and Photography major at San Francisco City College and UC Berkeley, took charge of gathering and coordinating the photo submissions. His task was not easy, but when he was done, he garnered 13 submissions to the exhibition, relating to each of the six agencies represented: REAF, Maitri, the Positive Resource Center, Larkin Street Youth Services, Shanti, and Pets Are Wonderful Support.
Brown sees the exhibition as having a three-pronged function: promoting local student artists, creating an emotional impact on viewers in order to raise awareness of the issues being addressed by the agencies, and finally educating the public on the function of the agencies within the community. Brown, a student artist himself, also contributed the image that is being used as the exhibitionâ€™s logo.
The quality and depth of the photographs chosen by the professional jury is astonishing. Photos range from an eerie depiction of a faceless cancer patient to a layered image of a youth with a skateboard. Shan Lee, a student who contributed moving shots of REAF cofounder Barbara Richmond, wanted her work to help break down the stereotypes of those affected by AIDS. â€śPeople think itâ€™s scary to have interaction with those with AIDS,â€ť Lee said. â€śBut if we continue to be scared of them weâ€™ll never get to know their story or be able to help them.â€ť
This fundraiser and exhibition offers an inspirational and emotional look at the work of local social justice agencies. The student artists deliver an exhibit worthy of the causes benefitted. â€śThrough These Eyesâ€ť opens to a gala reception on October 27 from 5:30-8:30 pm at The McLoughlin Gallery, 49 Geary St., Suite 200, San Francisco. The work remains on display until October 29.