There’s no event like Artrageous

In the years since 1987 when Nashville society doyen John Bridges and a group of the city’s most prominent art gallery owners conceived the unique event as an active response to the AIDS epidemic, literally thousands of volunteers, gallery owners and patrons have come together each Fall raising more than $2 million, so far, to support the ongoing work of Nashville CARES.

Through their hard work and commitment, Artrageous has attained near-legendary status as Nashville's most entertaining charity event. Nashville Scene Readers named the annual affair "Top Charity Event" of 1999, 2000, 2001, 2005 and 2006.

Staged by volunteers, the celebration of life and art is always original, attracting a stunning mix of glamorous party goers from across the nation. The 20th anniversary on Saturday, Nov. 10, will be no exception.

Featuring great art and imaginative good times, Artrageous 2007 is a whimsical skip down the yellow-brick road into an unforgettable night in OZ. From 6:00-10:00 p.m., ten of the Nashville’s premier art galleries will throw open their doors in a benefit for Nashville CARES, featuring original art by gifted artists and colorful themed-parties tracing Dorothy’s fateful trip over the rainbow and through the exotic Land of Oz.

 At 10 p.m. all roads will converge on the glamorous Emerald City Late Party at City Hall in the Gulch. Like the girl in the gingham dress relying on the Heart, Mind and Courage of her intrepid companions, you too will find all the excitement you desire right here at home.

Galleries participating in Artrageous OZ include ten of Nashville’s finest and represent diverse artistic styles, genres and venues including The Arts Company, Bennett Galleries, Cumberland Gallery, Dangenart, Estel Gallery, Finer Things, Local Color, Midtown Gallery, Richter Gallery and Tennessee Art League (TAL). The galleries also donate ten percent or more of all proceeds from purchases made during Artrageous directly to Nashville CARES.

The bus captains for host level participants will also each host bus-parties based on the epic storybook. Host-level tickets include VIP access to the event, access to Host Lounge at the Late Party and a ride on a Van Gogh buss for the gallery crawl for those who have signed up for the care-free ride.

Co-chairs for the 20th Anniversary, Artrageous OZ are Brian Pickler, Scott Ridgway, Ritchie Morrison, Maeve McConville, Ken Boshardy and Shawn Renegar. An artist and graphic designer, Morrison also created the imaginative modern interpretation of all the favorite characters and locales from the classic storybook as a colorful tapestry to weave all of the Gallery Parties and the Late Party together this year.

Artrageous OZ generous corporate sponsors include AT&T, Absolut Vodka, Bridgestone, Jive Digital Printing, radius10, SunTrust, Green Power Switch, Millenium Maxwell House, Rogan Allen Builders, Nashville Scene, nFocus, Out & About Newspaper, insideOut, AtHome Tennessee and Lightning 100.

Artrageous’ generous sponsors and hundreds of host-level participants contribute the lion’s share of cash donations each year. But the annual affair would not be possible without the open-hearted and on-going commitment from the volunteers who quietly make it all happen. As result, last year almost 80 percent of gross proceeds were donated to CARES.

“For 20 years Artrageous has helped to provide the resources needed to make Nashville CARES one of our city's strongest, most respected, and most effective non-profit agencies,” said Artrageous Inc. President Jon Glassmeyer. “That’s a wonderful achievement, but sadly the need for CARES’ services continues.”

Last year more than 300 men and women were diagnosed with HIV/AIDS in middle Tennessee and one out of three of the men were under age 25. And experts believe another 900 people are infected but don’t know it. That’s why the services provided by Nashville CARES are needed now more than ever.

“CARES continues to make a positive difference in the lives of Middle Tennesseans, serving over 1,400 clients affected by HIV/AIDS and providing prevention education to more than 38,000 people each year,” said Pickler. “The event will be fun, but in the end it’s about the mission to help those in need across Middle Tennessee. We appreciate the thousands of hours and generous cash donations from everyone working to make the 20th anniversary the most successful Artrageous yet.”

For more information on joining the host committee, volunteering or to buy your ticket go to or call Susan at 615-587-0088. Tickets will also be available for purchase the night of the event at City Hall in the Gulch.

20 years of Artrageous
As told by those on the front lines...

“Well, I chaired the year Gloria Gaynor performed. We worked with this truly insane (not crazy in the way your family is crazy . . . I mean dark panel van kidnapping people crazy) talent manager that booked Gloria for us. He was unhappy with everything we did for Gloria and complained constantly: The hotel wasn't what he wanted, he wanted free limos for his entourage (a bunch of his drunk friends he brought along) for the whole weekend, etc . . . He called all hours of the night to complain and we figured she'd never actually go on stage. Thank goodness, Gloria turned out to be a sweet, charming lady who, despite the nightmare manager, put on a great show!” Kim Patterson, co-chair 2004.

“Artrageous Escapade was the first year that we moved the late party into the bowl of the arena. We were worried that it would be too big for the party, so we kept trying to make the space feel smaller. We cordoned off one end for the host lounge and held the auction in the bowl as well. We needn't have worried. The party was packed and the energy was huge - not a single complaint!” Suzy Newton, co-chair 1999.

Obviously this was an early one in the Artrageous timeline. It was also the first time we had used a venue like 328 Performance Hall. The party was great, but there was a slight under-estimation of how much food would be needed for the late party. The responsible party elected to have her favorite caterer do the food and it was woefully inadequate, gone in about 15 minutes. I vaguely remember the mad rush to bring in some more food from somewhere, but in the end we had plenty of liquor... so nobody really cared! – Phillip Stewart, 1990

“The one thing that comes to mind about Artrageous 15, Can Can Quinze, was how in the world are were going to get live elephants to parade into the center of the arena for the climax of the planned floor show. What a great idea! But who was going to follow the elephants with a heavy-duty pooper scooper? Needless to say, after much deliberation and a review of what it would actually cost we opted for a very realistic fake elephant. What a night!” Bobby Smith, 2002

“At 8:50 pm, just before the Artrageous, Bewitched late party was to start, DJ Ron asked ‘where's the wire to connect my CD player to the sound system?’ We had a VERY LONG 15 minutes running, hunting, screaming and re-wiring. Somehow the music started at 9:05, just before the doors opened at 9:10, and a co-chair heart attack was narrowly avoided. Then at 10 p.m. a local celebrity showed up and said ‘HEYYYY, when do I go on?’ Well, she wasn't in the scheduled lineup, but to avoid a wig-pulling scene, we happily worked her in. Of course, she was perfectly fabulous and stole the show. Finally, to save some money, we had asked our student volunteers to cut up a fun homemade confetti from streamers and feather boas to drop from the arena ceiling during the late party. Somehow the streamers and feathers got all meshed together and when it was time for them to drop, it looked like a flock of lumpy pink chickens falling from the sky.” David Taylor, 2000

“After persuading a group of friends to donate hours upon hours of their time in the sweltering heat of a fairly disgusting, slightly rat infested (but free and kindly donated) warehouse space gluing together enormous pieces of white fabric to coat hangers making ‘lotus petals’ the big day finally arrived and we began moving the pieces into the GEC. As the flowerpots that were to bear the giant lotus blossoms sat waiting cold temperatures coming up through the floor from the ice rink below caused the glue that was holding the pieces together to freeze and pop. Then, when we erected the first few 10-foot tall centerpieces into the middle of the tables, the wind created by the cooling system in the building caused lotus flowers to go nearly airborne and we ended up scrapping the whole idea two hours before the gallery hop began. Fortunately, Timot's Egyptian-esque columns still looked fabulous as centerpieces and for the most part, no one was the wiser.....except for the folks who had done all of the hard work. Entertainment for 2001 was, of course, the incomparable Jennifer "I'm not quite finished getting ready" Holliday. When she FINALLY hit the stage, an hour late, she blew the roof of the GEC. It was still, in my opinion, one of the most memorable moments of any Artrageous, late or not. After her performance, Ms. Holliday specifically requested a Diet Coke. Unfortunately, the GEC is a Pepsi building and their wasn't a Diet Coke to be had. Let's just say that one volunteer went to great lengths to get the Diva what she wanted! – Troy Marden, 2001.

“Artrageous 2001 had the regular share of drama, hopes, dreams, and quagmires...but it also happened in September of 2001. One moment I will never forget occurred during the Host Party at the newly opened courtyard garden of the Nashville Public Library on September 15. After the tragedy of 9/11, the phone calls and e-mails shooting around were going in all directions, ‘Don’t have the party,’ ‘Do have the party,’ and ‘How could you even consider having a party?’ Level heads prevailed and with the guidance of John Bridges, we did go forward with the Host Party that night. The 15th was the first day that air travel out of Nashville resumed. A hush fell over the festivities when, around 6:30, a lone plane soared above us in the evening sky and then the crowd burst into applause.” Van Pond co-chair 2001.

Picture it: 1996. No place to have the party as the Arena was not yet complete. We had the late party at Sunset Studios, in the middle of nowhere with no parking. We had to bus people in through a major traffic jam with people complaining and some giving up and walking in on foot. Then it started snowing. Slush was everywhere and the chair of the food committee showed up with nothing but bread and popcorn and too few bartenders. Then there were the port-a-potty fiascos. Still somehow it turned out to be an amazing event! – Scott Smith, 1996

“A good friend and long time Artrageous/CARES supporter, Jim Mathis, stopped me the night of Artrageous 12 as I was running around taking care of a million little tasks, he reminded me that for every theme Artrageous has taken - Promenade, Whaddayagonnawear, Moving Pictures, Timeless, Bound, etc. there is always a sub theme such as ‘Oh no, we have run out of food,’ ‘Where are the rest of the Van Gogh buses’, ‘Is that snow?’, etc. It helped that night to remember that no one is perfect and that even with all the hard work we put into something there can still be mistakes. Him saying this brought it all into perspective. We always want everyone to have a great time and walk away with great memories however, when the last bus is gone, and the last song has ended, we did all of it for Nashville CARES. – Jon Glassmeyer, 1999.

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