ALTON — About 60 artful bras are on display at Jacoby Arts Center in downtown Alton as part of the second annual Bras on Broadway exhibit.
Continuing with last year’s rousing success, Alton Memorial Hospital is again partnering with the Jacoby Arts Center to sponsor the exhibit, which opened on Friday, Oct. 31, and will continue until a benefit reception on Saturday, Nov. 22. The donated bras will be auctioned off via a silent auction from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tickets for the Nov. 22 reception are $30 and can be purchased by visiting www.AltonMemorialHealthServicesFoundation.org or by calling the AMH Development office at (618) 463-7701.
During the three weeks of the exhibit, viewers can vote for their favorite design with $1 tickets, with the winner receiving the People’s Choice Bra-vo Award, to be announced at the Nov. 22 reception. Proceeds from the exhibit and auction will benefit Alton Memorial Hospital’s You’ve Got a Friend program, which provides breast cancer patients at AMH with physical, financial, mental, spiritual and emotional support. Last year’s inaugural exhibit featured 50 bras and raised more than $4,000.
Area artists and creative individuals were invited to “Build-A-Bra” for the exhibit. Entries from local businesses, community groups and organizations also were welcome. No fewer than nine of the bras in this year’s exhibit were done by art students at Washington University.
The bras have both humorous and touching names such as “Make Time for a Mammogram,” “Wonder Under,” “Heavenly Hooter,” “Woman Warrior,” “Dixie Cups,” “Bras of Steel” and “Rah-Rahs’ 4 Ta-Tas.” Most of the artists made an entry either in honor or in memory of a family or friend who has breast cancer, has had breast cancer or who died from the disease.
It was displays like that which surprised Marlene Lewis of the AMH Development Office when she first viewed the exhibit.
“I was expecting to see amusing and lighthearted bras, and get a good laugh,” she said. “Instead, I was very moved by so many beautiful messages and surprised by how emotional the exhibit was.”
“I’m just so pleased that this year’s exhibit looks to be even bigger and better than last year,” said Dee Kilgo, organizer of the event. “During the last 20 years, there’s never been a time that I wasn’t worrying about someone close to me who was battling breast cancer. Because art bras have become so closely associated with breast cancer fund-raising, they’ve become a universal symbol of both the struggle against breast cancer and also the triumph of beating the disease.”
Kilgo’s son, Matt, is a plastic surgeon on Long Island and one of his specialties is reconstructive breast surgery. He informed his mother about a similar exhibit in the New York area, with all of the bras made by breast cancer survivors.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for artists to use their creative talents to honor and remember a loved one, celebrate a survivor or simply show their commitment to this life-saving cause,” Kilgo said. “I’ve seen so many examples of ordinary bras transformed into something very artful and also many new and original bra-themed pieces of art.”
The Jacoby Arts Center, 627 E. Broadway in Alton, is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. The Bras on Broadway benefit reception on Nov. 22 will include the silent auction, hors d’oeuvres, a cash bar and the sounds of local band Off the Shoulder.