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Artists Benefit New York AIDS Orphans Oct. 15th

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Right now, at the lobby gallery of the Condé Nast Building is an exhibit with works of art for auction curated with the theme "See the Children Through the Trees." The works of art are focused on trees; the theme reflects how AIDS orphans and other parentless children in New York are invisible. New York City has the most AIDS orphans of any city in the Western world -- but, as I have written in detail, you'd hardly know. The city doesn't even count them -- much less try to assist them. Indeed, when a parent dies of AIDS, it is hardly unusual for the kids, especially teens, to end up homeless.

But, New York's extraordinary art community has stepped in in an extraordinary way. The wonderful tree artwork given by so many artists includes works from famed landscape artist April Gornik's "The Woods" to Ross Bleckner's abstracted leaves in "Early Every Morning"; from Milton Glazer's blazing "Red Tree" to an original, signed panel from Garry Trudeau's "Doonesbury" (which takes a sterner view toward trees) to Walter Channing's eight foot tall sculpture in which a natural tree trunk seems to "whirl" to the sky.

Anyone who wants to have art and help orphans may attend the gala event and live auction, presented through the generosity of the Durst Organization, from 6 to 9 p.m. on Thursday Oct. 15 at the Condé Nast Building, at 42nd Street and Broadway. The benefit will help support Health People's mentoring program, which trains older teens with sick, missing and deceased parents to be mentors to help younger kids in the same difficult situations.

Until then, there is a silent auction in the gallery -- which is open to the public all day -- and people can also bid on CharityBuzz.com. Just click "Health People" under "Find a Charity".

And let me add something about "seeing things." As the executive director of a small Bronx organization, struggling to help totally thrown away kids (there are no federal programs for American AIDS orphans, for one example, and for all that is given to other countries, none of the big foundations, including the Gates and Clinton Foundations and the Bono Red campaign, give a dime to help American children whose parents have AIDS). I couldn't quite imagine that we could have a really beautiful benefit like this. What I learned -- over and over again -- was that artists really understood who these children are and the need to help them in a way that few others seem to. And then I began to notice that for many causes, artists are the backbone, the givers, both of beauty and practical help. Their role in the spirit of our public life is quiet extraordinary, itself.

So -- show the artists support, too, and join us Thursday, Oct. 15th, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Condé Nast Building Gallery, at 42nd and Broadway.