Art Against Cancer

The Art Bra project turns a calendar into a really thoughtful gift

Art Against Cancer
Photo by Brenda Ladd, courtesy of Breast Cancer Resource Centers of Texas

With times and finances tight this holiday season, isn't it a bonus to buy a Christmas present that's also a gift to a good cause? If you're still looking for that last minute (or belated) gift, the Art Bra Calendar 2010 could provide that double whammy.

Last Wednesday, the Breast Cancer Resource Centers of Texas held a special calendar signing session at Submerged, complete with several models from the calendar and an appearance by local burlesque sensations The Jigglewatts. This was part of a year-round program to raise funds for the center and its Pink Ribbon Cowgirls support network for younger cancer survivors. Barbara Formichelli, the center's director of marketing and events development, explained, "It really is, if you'll pardon the pun, a very uplifting event."

This is the third year of the calendar, and this year the project left the studio and went on the road. Formichelli explained, "This past year, we decided to shoot at various iconic locations around Austin." The locations are only part of the equation: There are also the bras, designed by local artists and signed by celebrities (big name backers over the years include Matthew McConaughey, Patrice Pike, Lance Armstrong, Debbie Harry, The Gourds, KEYE anchor Judy Maggio, and dozens of other donors). A personal favorite for Formichelli involved current Democratic agriculture commission hopeful and 2009 auction MC Kinky Friedman. She said, "A girlfriend of mine who is an excellent seamstress made a Kinky bra that is a replica of the artwork from the cigar bands from the cigars that he sells."

The other part of the equation? The models, who all share the common bond of surviving breast cancer. Formichelli said, "All the girls who model (at the auction) are survivors, and all the girls in calendar are survivors." Once the bras have been donated, she said, "The girls come in, they try on the bras, and everyone picks something they like, something that hopefully fits their personality." She sees the experience as part of the healing process, and added, "Think what it does for their self-esteem. It really makes them feel truly beautiful, with a crowd of people applauding. It's just a magnificent event."

The BCRC already has plans for next year's calendar. So far, the calendar has depended on the generosity and great photography of Brenda Ladd: For 2011, Formichelli said, "Our idea is to have 12 different photographers, because now they're seeing the calendar they're coming forward – so we're opening it up." (A familiar name for Chronicle readers that's already lined up is Todd Wolfson). Formichelli explained, "We're going to let each photographer come up with their own theme for a particular month, just like if you were doing a magazine layout."

The BCRC Art Bra 2010 calendar is available online for $19. It is also on sale at local businesses, including Bettysport, BookWoman, Kerbey Lane cafe, Antone's, and Salon Sirrah, and at BCRC events.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

Charities, Design, Holiday Gifts, The Jigglewatts, gift guide 2009, Art Bra, Breast Cancer Resource Centers of Texas, Debbie Harry

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