AIDS Quilt display postponed

Planners optimistic that funding can be secured for a 2012 Dallas exhibition

DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

The display of the Names Project AIDS Memorial Quilt at Dallas Convention Center planned for September has been postponed at least until next year, organizers announced earlier this month.

Rosemarie Odom, president of C.U.R.E., announced on World AIDS Day last year that the largest display of the quilt in 15 years would come to Dallas this year. She said that Pepsico had signed to sponsor the event and that Tyler Sweatman had been hired as event director.

But the event had to be postponed when Pepsi “pulled out at the 11th hour,” Sweatman said this week.

C.U.R.E. planned to exhibit at least 500 quilt panels, which would have been the largest public display since the entire quilt was shown on the Mall in Washington, D.C., in 1996.

The event was scheduled for the first weekend in October, the same weekend as LifeWalk and the week after the Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS. Planners had hoped participants in both events would spend time with the quilt to bring more awareness to the issue of HIV and AIDS, Sweatman said.

Odom said that even if a replacement sponsor signed on today, she’d still postpone until next year.

“If we got the money in today, we could have the exhibit in September,” she said. “But now we don’t have time to get people in.”
She said that C.U.R.E. is regrouping and restrategizing and looking to next year.

No dates have been discussed for next year. However, specific panels would be requested for the exhibit so planners need to coordinate around availability. Many groups around the country request blocks especially on World AIDS Day, so the Dallas event would likely not happen then.

Plano-based C.U.R.E. uses panels from the quilt to promote AIDS education. Last year they hung 13 of them in a downtown Plano storefront and also displayed them at several corporate headquarters in Plano.

Sweatman has watched the Quilt grow from its inception. He was living in San Francisco in 1987 when Cleve Jones and friends began sewing panels together to memorialize friends who had died of AIDS.

Each panel is three feet by six feet, the size of a coffin, and panels are stitched together into 12 square foot blocks. More than 40,000 panels have been created and includes the names of 91,000 people who have died of AIDS, making the quilt the largest piece of folk art ever created.

Odom said that C.U.R.E. may still do a small quilt display around World AIDS Day on Dec. 1. And she’s optimistic that the ambitious plan for the largest exhibit since 1996 will still take place in Dallas.

—  John Wright

AIDS at 30: Quilt coming to Dallas

The largest display of the Names Project AIDS Memorial Quilt in 15 years will be at the Dallas Convention Center on Sept. 30-Oct. 1.

The Collin County-based AIDS organization C.U.R.E. that promotes education and prevention is behind the effort to bring more than 1,000 panels of the quilt to Dallas.

Event Director Tyler Sweatman said, “Fundraising is always a big challenge.”

The last time the entire quilt was displayed was in 1996 when the 47,000 panels were laid out on the Mall in Washington, D.C.

C.U.R.E. brought 225 panels of the Quilt to Dallas that were displayed in Lee Park as part of the Lone Star Ride in 2005. Each year on World AIDS Day the group hangs panels in a downtown Plano location and in several corporate headquarters in Collin County.

Sweatman said the speaker for the first night of the quilt presentation is Brryan Jackson, who is 19. His father, a hospital worker who didn’t want to pay child support, injected him with the HIV virus when he was 11 months old. He became deaf at the age of seven.

The goal of the quilt display, Sweatman said, was to “raise awareness and educate because here we are … 30 years later.”

— David Taffet

—  John Wright