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Dallas Artist Raises Funds for Greg Dollgener Memorial AIDS Fund

by Drew Jackson
Monday Mar 18, 2013
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A Dallas art gallery and its artist-in-residence have teamed up with the goal of raising funds to help individuals living with HIV/AIDS. On Mar. 1, the ilume Gallerie held their 2013 Greg Dollgener Memorial Aids Fund opening reception to launch their annual MetroBall event. Organizers hope the combined events will raise $85,000 for charity.

"Art is a great venue for charitable giving because it touches our soul and our emotions," said Gallery Director and Artist-in-Residence Ronald Radwanski. "Art makes an emotional connection with people and people are much more willing to be engaged in shows that have such wonderful energy."

Radwanski worked with ilume developer Luke Crosland to establish the gallery in 2009 as a non-profit arts venue. Radawanski envisioned not only a space for arts exhibits, but also one that he could attach to charities within the GLBT community so that some of the proceeds were being used to help individuals with HIV/AIDS.

In 2012, the ilume Gallerie did a show with the proceeds benefiting the Greg Dollgener Memorial AIDS Fund. This year GDMAF founder David Hearn asked Ron if they could hold a similar show, to be held through Apr. 6.

The show is leading up to the annual MetroBall at Station Four Dallas (S4), an AIDS fundraising event in conjunction with Razzle Dazzle Dallas. Scheduled for June 7, the MetroBall will bring an estimated 1,000 people together to raise funds for people living with HIV/AIDS.


Hearn and Dollgener were life partners before Dollgener passed in 1994; Hearn now runs the GDMAF. The two hosted house parties to raise money and awareness for the HIV community, and their events became so large that they moved to S4. When Dollgener died, Hearn kept the fundraising going.

Hearn described Dollgener as outspoken, tenacious, honest and having a big heart. He was also one of the first advocates in Plano to speak about AIDS, talking about prevention in schools, and via a Plano television segment devoted about World AIDS Day. Even the food pantry in Plano is named after Dollgener.

The Greg Dollgener Memorial Aids Fund acts as an umbrella for PLWHAs to get help when other mainstream AIDS service programs in the community deplete their resources. Today, the GDMAF is an all volunteer, 501(c)(3) organization whose efforts through fund raising and assistance honor the memory of Dollgener.


Since 1996, the GDMAF has assisted more than 1,500 clients and disbursed more than $300,000 to meet needs such as rent, medication co-pays, deposits and emergency payments to avoid loss of utilities. The funds keeps getting bigger as the shows continue to attract a more mainstream crowd.

"As little as three years ago, the guests at the art shows were almost exclusively gay," said Radwanski. "Now I am not surprised to see a large contingent of straight folk coming into the gallery, which allows for opportunities for them to be educated and to be aware of the needs that still exist."


The ilume Gallerie show benefiting the Greg Dollgener Memorial AIDS Fund will run through Apr. 6. For more information call 214-507-7369 or visit www.ilumegallerie.com. For more information on the June 7 MetroBall, call 972-743-6323 or visit http://www.gdmaf.org/GDMAF/MetroBall.html

Drew Jackson was born in Brooklyn and has been writing ever since he graduated from NYC. He now lives in Dallas happily married to his husband Hugh. Jackson is a familiar fixture on the Dallas Forth Worth theater scene and is currently working on his next play.

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