by donald henry dusinberre
Ordinarily, artists show their work to get noticed. Musicians play their songs on stage to gain fans. But occasionally, they lay it all out there to help someone else, and recently the effort has been directed toward Brian Hicks, a true friend of Jacksonville’s arts and music community.
In the last few months, a series of benefit shows called Stop Brian Cancer have organized local citizens, artists and musicians alike, to directly help another human by offering financial and emotional encouragement.
Hatched by a few of Brian’s close friends- including Jason Lewis, Joe Parker and Jon Bosworth- the idea for Stop Brian Cancer was a perfect fit for its benefactor, and the idea quickly bloomed into a multi-faceted movement. “We initially worked on the idea as a series of music shows,” says Jon Bosworth. “But [visual] artists came out of nowhere to participate, which took us by surprise. At the first benefit show, the art sales ended up beating the proceeds from the music, so it was natural for us to make art an integral part of the shows to make art an integral part of the shows to follow.”
A bandmate of Hicks’ in Tropic of Cancer, Jason Lewis knew that there was “a large community of both artists/musicians and art and music lovers who wanted to be involved in helping Brian. In terms of bringing people together for a larger cause, through art and music, I think it is sort of natural.”
Truly, there is no more fitting way to raise support for a man like Brian Hicks than with music and art. Believe it or not, few people in Jacksonville have escaped the influence of Brian Hicks in some way. Having earned degrees in Jazz Music and Graphic Design from UNF, Hicks has been in numerous bands, from rock to jazz to experimental music. Until recently, he has been a part of virtually every Downtown Art Walk and frequents countless art and music shows. “He has always had a keen sense of what humans can bring to a project and an unprecedented affinity for an individual’s creativity,” says Bosworth.
In addition to the benefit shows with local bands and artists donating their creative output, the Stop Brian Cancer movement has placed donation jars in a number of restaurants and bars in Riverside and Downtown. “I wanted it to be as inclusive as possible,” says Lewis. “If someone could only donate $5 but wanted to be a part of it, then I wanted their positive energy.”
They also created the Resurrection of Booga B, a Facebook group whose page is full of photos, updates of Hicks’ progress, well wishes and information about upcoming Stop Brian Cancer events. The page has even hosted an online art auction, which Bosworth says, “is the first auction ever done on Facebook, as far as we know.”
So why is it important to help out a guy like Brian Hicks? “The creative work of artists and musicians has gone largely unappreciated in this town, but… the same work would be far more appreciated by the audiences and media in New York or San Francisco,” says Bosworth. “Brian Hicks is one of the few artists here who can take that New York or San Francisco perspective and apply it to the arts in Jacksonville.”
It is in that spirit that the Stop Brian Cancer movement continues. Although Jacksonville doesn’t have the flair or magnitude of New York’s arts community, we’ve got just as much substance. “I have no doubt that each person will associate the artwork they bought with helping out Brian,” says Lewis. “It just makes it a very personal experience, having that connection between the art and the donation to help out a friend like Brian.”
When asked about the goals and challenges of organizing the movement, Lewis said, “Getting people to come to a fundraiser, or even just an art opening or concert, can be a daunting task. But you definitely get a synergy when you combine the three events. I feel like people’s positive thoughts and prayers are as important as the money we were raising.”
Music and art are best enjoyed with feeling, and helping people is a great feeling. Jacksonville should be proud to be the home of a substantial patron of the arts in Brian Hicks as well as a community of artists small in number but great in spirit.
To learn more about the Stop Brian Cancer movement and become more involved, visit the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=74714266096. There you will find a list of establishments with donation jars and information on upcoming events.
being for the benefit
by donald henry dusinberre