By Kambiz Shekdar, Ph.D.
Until it was shuttered by the pandemic, Carlos Abisaab worked as a waiter in West Village favorite Barbuto. Finding himself out-of-work and bored, he created a family-friendly, LGBTQ-themed adult coloring book. The coloring book was launched on Amazon starting on World AIDS Day 2020 with 5% of proceeds going to Research Foundation to Cure AIDS (RFTCA). Now, WestView News is making it possible for everyone to join in on the quarantine fun with our very own coloring-in contest!
Carlos is using his pandemic-inspired talents to entertain people in good fun and to support good causes. In fact, he is already working on his second book as part of a series of coloring books each one of which will be dedicated to a different cause. Carlos selected RFTCA as his first non-profit partner from now until National Youth HIV/AIDS Awareness day on April 10, 2021.
Artists have played a vital role in address HIV/AIDS ever since the infectious disease first reared its head. For example, a collective of artists known as Gran Fury created the iconic image combining the use of the pink triangle with their “Silence = Death” motto, a powerful and infamous image used to great effect by the activist group ACT-UP. Avram Finkelstein and Brian Howard, two members of that collective, helped inform and participated in RFTCA’s #SHOUTCUREAIDS campaign. And while a third of RFTCA’s board are scientists affiliated with The Rockefeller University, artists Dennis Ashbaugh, Sherry Vine and Alan Cumming also served among the founding board members.
George Capsis, publisher of WestView News, is proud to support such home-grown and local initiatives by offering the newspaper’s own coloring contest. To participate, simply color in the accompanying cartoon by Carlos featuring RFTCA’s logo and #FreeFromAIDS torch. Use pencils, crayons, ink or oil paints, feathers, eco-friendly glitter, mustard and ketchup or anything else imagination desires.
Finally, 1) Post your image to your own feed on Instagram; 2) Tag @RFTcureaids, @westviewnews and @colorificandtotallytacky; and 3) Make a donation of any amount to RFTCA at https://rftca.org/GetInvolved/ and a donation of any amount to WestView News at http://westviewnews.org/. By posting your images, you grant RFTCA and WestView News permission to re-post and re-print your artwork. Readers who do not have the print copy of WestView News can download the image online (or better yet, you can also get your own print subscription while there).
WestView News will print all or a subset of qualifying images in an upcoming issue. A panel of judges from RFTCA and WestView News plus Carlos himself will select a grand prize-winner and runners-up. All winners will receive their own signed copies of Carlos’ book, “Carlo’s Colorific and Totally Tacky Coloring Book.” Of course, anyone can purchase their own copy of Carlo’s book on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Carlos-Colorific-Totally-Tacky-Coloring/dp/1636840442.
Thank you for participating. One thing is for sure, your artistic talents and creativity will be a great way to start off the New Year and raise much needed awareness and support to cure AIDS.
Rockefeller University alumnus and biotech inventor Kambiz Shekdar, Ph.D., is the founder and president of Research Foundation to Cure AIDS. Contact Kambiz at firstname.lastname@example.org.