Friday, September 09, 2005

Whatever Happened to the AIDS Memorial QUILT?

I was wondering the same thing. I last saw it in its entirety in 1993 at the March on Washington.
Its founder, Cleve Jones, seems to have had a falling out with the foundation that now cares for the AIDS quilt. However this past Wednesday, the two sides reached an agreement.

Both sides agreed that Jones will be allowed to nominate four finalists for two positions ong the foundation's board of directors which come open each year.

Jones had created the AIDS Quilt and had been its spokesman from 1987 until 2002. The quilt has grown over the yeas, and now weighs 50 tons. They stopped expanding it several years ago.

I know when I saw it in 1993 that I was deeply touched and moved by it as it spread along the base of the Washington Monument and the Smithsonian Mall. At that time the entire quilt was displayed.

Since that time, portions of the quilt are being displayed in cities throughout the nation. However that does not have the same impact.

The new leadership moved the quilt from San Francisco to Atlanta in 2001 and this move provoked the split between Jones and the group.

It is a shame that such pettiness reared its ugly head. So many of the quilts depicted the lives of bear men and leathermen. Some were very poignant and moving. I will always be deeply touched by the show of love and commitment that went into these quilts. The men who died during the early battle of AIDS will not be forgotten.


Tim said...

The AIDS Memorial Quilt is no longer shown in its entirety due to its fragility. The last display of the entire quilt was in October 1996; it covered the entire National Mall in D.C.

The 1,000 newest blocks (those blocks received since October 1996) were displayed in their entirety on June 26, 2004, on The Ellipse in D.C.

Actually, the quilt keeps expanding. Panels are received every day. There are about 20 Quilt Chapters around the U.S. and another 40 or 50 overseas (I don't remember how many exactly).

The quilt itself is on display almost constantly, in bits and pieces around the world. Most chapters request blocks of the quilt to display because a local person's name is on that block.

The fight over the quilt occurred when the Names Foundation almost went bankrupt in 2002. Cleve Jones said the organization was not bankrupt, but the board disagreed and moved the Quilt to Atlanta. Jones' separation from the board and the Foundation included things like his being able to name board members until his death or desire to give up that right.

The same year, a number of AIDS quilt chapters got really angry with new restrictions on their ability to display "their" section of the quilt; rules on who pays for shipping the quilt panels; rules on who is a "legit" Foundation chapter; and how fast panels have to be submitted to the HQ in Atlanta.

Many chapters left the organization, and make and maintain their own AIDS quilts locally now.

Tim said...

An update:

Names Memorial Quilt founder Cleve Jones reached a final legal settlement with the foundation this week. A section of the AIDS Memorial Quilt will be permanently housed and on display in San Francisco now.

Apparently, the legal dispute was over who owns the artwork and the quilt's design. The foundation was found to be the holder of the rights to the artwork in the quilt, but Jones was been found to be the designer. To settle the artistic dispute (which is the legal issue the law turned on), Jones gets part of the quilt.

Cosgrove Norstadt and Jeff Foote said...

Cleve Jones wants to be in the spotlight if you ask me. I don't care for him. He tried a run for office and failed. He is keeping himself tied to the one thing that has given him an identity.