Boobies + Art + Fashion + Music

Breasts of all shapes, sizes, colors and stripes greeted visitors at San Diego's Adorn Gallery on Saturday. Painted luscious blues and lavish golds, collaged and inscribed, these busts were made to be admired. And admired they were. In a silent auction sponsored by the San Diego based nonprofit Keep A Breast, these plaster casts fetched over $1,000 for breast cancer treatment and research.

Adorn owner Tawnia King and artist Ginger Placek show off their busts

The all-day event kicked off Breast Cancer Awareness Month in an entirely different tone than it is normally treated. In place of the ubiquitous pale, pink ribbons, there were tee shirts, pins and patches for sale boldly emblazoned in hot pink with the word "boobies". DJs, a fashion trunk show, and the gallery's diverse collection of photography, paintings, furniture and crafts kept visitors entertained while they browsed the plaster torsos. This dose of hipness, along with the involvement of the art and music world, is Keep A Breast's prescription to make breast cancer issues relevant to today's youth.

The foundation raises money and awareness through their auctions, like the one held at Adorn. The inspiration for its signature plaster torso casts came from the artist Freida Kahlo. Kahlo spent much of her life in a cast yet remained fiercely courageous.

The breasts came in all colors, shapes and sizes

According to Keep A Breast's founders Shaney Jo Darden and Mona Mukherjea-Gehrig the casts are representative of that same spirit: "The casts are physical representations of a simple truth' while breast cancer attacks all women without prejudice, it is the powerful individual present in all women that will conquer it." In the past five years, thousands of torsos have been casted and auctioned off in locations as diverse as France and Hawaii. The torsos include breast cancer survivors, husbands, children, friends and celebrities. Just in the past year, these auctions have raised $95,000 for breast cancer charities.

In addition to their fundraising activities, Keep A Breast is noteworthy in that it targets an audience that is often overlooked when it comes to discussions of breast cancer -- young women. Through partnerships with Roxy and Macbeth Athletics, they have been able to engage teenagers and twenty-somethings in a manner they had not been before. At their global events, including a spot in the Girlz Garage at this summer's Vans Warped Tour, they have educated a wide array of young people about the importance of monthly breast exams and encouraged them to feel comfortable with and aware of their bodies.

Tawnia King, the owner of Adorn, decided to become involved with Keep A Breast after discovering the organization on the online community My Space. She founded her Kettner Boulevard gallery last year with the intention of becoming involved in charitable work. While she did not have a personal connection to breast cancer, once she sent out an initial notice for the event she soon met women, including some old friends, who were themselves survivors or were touched in some way by the disease. King was overwhelmed by the response of San Diego's artists and women volunteering to be cast. At last month's casting party, where the plaster torsos were fashioned, more models volunteered their breasts than were needed.

Adorn's gallery space

King, who was cast herself, described the experience as enlightening in two ways: "Women who had it done were happy to see the abundance of differences among the other women's breasts. It was very uplifting. Secondly, the male artists chose all different types of breasts to work with. You would think they would go for the large breasts, but that was not the case." Her own cast, decorated by Jessica Newman featured portraits of survivors.

Ginger Placek donated both her breasts and creativity to the cause, as a model and an artist. Her cast was inspired for a tattoo design she was working on at the time. She normally works in two dimensions, and found the three dimensional plaster a compelling canvas. When asked how she feels about strangers bidding on her breasts she responded, "I don't think about it as my bust. Just a piece of artwork"

In addition to Placek and King, the other generous women who graciously leant their breasts included Sadhana Patel, Davetta Adams, Alison Torbitt, Jennis Brooks, Tracey Pendeyest, Kerry Zurier, Cindy Maciejewski, Elizabeth Garcia-Tillack, Zoe Domich, Bridget Coulter and Kelly Clifton. Participating local artists included Vanessa Salazar, Paula Des Jardins, Stephen Beck, Jessica Newman, John Thomas, Cynthia Colis, Todd Carpenter, Solomon Cohen, Pete Tillack, True, Randy Hollis, and Carrie Mize. 1/8 Fresh, Ben Hicks Designs, Unlocal Clothing showed their wares in the trunk show and music was provided courtesy of DJ Jay Rosso, DJ London John, Turtlefuzz, DJ Eric G and Starline Theorie. Ten percent of the proceeds from everything sold in the gallery on Saturday, in addition to the auction, was also donated to Keep A Breast.

The breasts await the first bids of the day

If you missed the October 1 event in San Diego, there will be another Southern California auction in Los Angeles at the Lab 101 Gallery
on Saturday Oct. 22, 2005. Beginning October 8th, Keep A Breast will also host an online auction of celebrity breasts decorated by special guest artists. Busts include burlesque star Dita Von Tesse, Catherine D'lish, Maya Ford of The Donnas, Rosa Blasi of Strong Medicine, Kelly Hu of X2, Lisa Anderson, Layne Beachley, and The Suicide Girls. The casts are decorated by Foo Fighters, Dj Greyboy, Tom Delonge, No Doubt's Tom Dumont, Adrian Young and Tony Kanal, New Found Glory, Taking Back Sunday, Alkaline Trio, Dj Shadow, Switchfoot, and Aaron of Guru Tattoo. To bid, or to learn more about Keep A Breast, visit their website at

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