(Crystal A. Proxmire, Sept. 18, 2013, orig. Between the Lines Issue 2132)
Elegance, originality and the spirit of Detroit combine for one of Michigan AIDS Coalition’s most prominent fundraisers of the year Dining By Design by DIFFA (Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS). The three-day fundraiser is hosted by the DIFFA group, which brings the lavish event to six select communities a year including Detroit. Cities are chosen based on the strength of the designer and artist communities, and locations change each year to provide a unique space for the event.
One of the most spectacular things about this year’s DIFFA: Dining By Design Detroit, Sept. 26-28, is its location. This is the only time people will be able to party in the old Federal Reserve Building at 160 W. Fort St. before it becomes full time retail/business space. On Sept. 26, there will be Cocktails By Design, featuring a preview of the design spaces, food and drink plus a silent auction. On Sept. 27, there will be Artworks By Design, a large gallery opening and auction showcasing 150 local artists. And on Sept. 28, the grand Dining By Design event will feature a sumptuous dinner in the uniquely designed place settings for 10 or 20 people, each uniquely created by a prominent designer for their guests. Designers include those with specialties in artistic interiors, architecture, graphic design, fashion, auto design and even landscaping. This variety provides eclectic experiences and ambiance for guests as they are encouraged to look at each of the custom-designed spaces.
“The significance of the event in Detroit is several fold,” said MAC Executive Director Terry Ryan. “It unites the design and creative communities in a way not done before in Detroit; it also incorporates our strong artist community. It is MAC’s single largest signature fundraiser, and important to the total income streams we receive to support programs. Now entering its fourth year, we have been in a different venue every year. Many guests have told us, ‘We love it that you show us a new part of Detroit each year.'”
“Funds raised will be used in a variety of ways,” said Ryan, “to help underwrite programs that are not wholly supported by grants, new program initiatives that serve the community where funding sources have not yet been identified, and also assist with covering many administrative costs that grants will not cover, but which are essential to even having an organization and programs in the first place.”
While MAC has only been part of the DIFFA event for four years, the Artworks By Design element is an 18-year tradition. The event has had a couple of names over the years, but the mission has always been the same – to raise money to fight AIDS.
Carl Demeulenaere of Grosse Pointe has been involved from the beginning. He was one of the co-founders of “Artworks for Life” in 1996 and has volunteered and donated artwork each year as he’s seen the event grow. “I feel it is important to support MAC because of the important programming it implements to help those facing the challenges of living with HIV and AIDS, and the HIV and AIDS prevention programs it offers to the diverse community, as well,” Demeulenaere said.
“As far as Artworks is concerned, about 150 artists donate work to our silent and live auctions,” said Demeulenaere. “Their generosity reflects the spirit of Detroit. Despite Detroit’s bankruptcy, Artworks reminds the public that the arts community is far from bankrupt, offering a rich variety of art that is reflected yearly in our auction event. The fact that Artworks has become an eighteen-year tradition, most recently joining forces with the national DIFFA event, is a positive reflection on the city. As a Detroiter, I’m very proud that my city is one of only five hosting this annual, national event, as well.”
Demeulenaere said his best memory of Artworks goes back to the early years, when the event was held at the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House. “My late father was the oldest attendee during that time,” he said. Demeulenaere and his family grew up on the east side of Detroit, and he’s proud to see that the Artworks Detroit now bears the logo that he designed. Demeulenaere is an installation artist who creates large structures that enclose small-scale paintings, drawings and sculptural objects.
THURSDAY SEPT. 26, 2013 – COCKTAILS BY DESIGN: Guests view the installations, dance, sample food from 25 different Detroit restaurants, and participate in a live and silent auction. This is the party night! Tickets: $100 each.
FRIDAY SEPT. 27, 2013 – ARTWORKS BY DESIGN:The 18th annual ArtWorks Detroit event, featuring 150 pieces of art from prominent Michigan artists, with both live and silent auctions. Guests also can view the dining installations, and enjoy food and drink. Tickets: $75 each.
SATURDAY SEPT. 28, 2013 – DINING BY DESIGN: The culmination of the three day event: designers, sponsors and their guests enjoy a fabulous dinner, opportunity to sit and relax in the installations. Dancing, live and silent auctions, and other elements are part of the evening’s events. Limited seating available. Tickets: $250 each.