Bras on Broadway: In honor, humor and hope

Story and photos by Katie Hamness

MSUM Journalism and Graphic Design

For one night out of the year, wearing just a bra, is OK.

The fifth annual Bras on Broadway event was held Oct. 21, at the HoDo hotel and restaurant at 101 Broadway. This event is put on every October to create awareness and raise money for breast cancer awareness and prevention in our region.

Bras on Broadway is an art-focused fund-raiser for women in our area who are fighting breast cancer. The event also emphasizes creating awareness.

“We want to draw attention and be a spectacle and hopefully inspire people to not only clean out their bra drawer, but to also take control,” said Karen Stoker, owner and creative director of the HoDo.

Visit http://www.hoteldonaldson.com/ for more information on the HoDo.

The HoDo is strung with donated bras from top to bottom the weekend before the event.

Where the bras got their start

Five years ago Stoker found the inspiration for Bras on Broadway through a friend’s sister who had been in a breast cancer awareness event in which artists had made wearable art for the month of October. Since the mission of the HoDo is to create memorable experiences by celebrating our community’s visual, culinary and performing arts, Stoker thought an event like this would be the perfect fit for the Fargo-Moorhead community.

Five years later, Bras on Broadway continues to raise thousands of dollars each year to provide local help, in the form of accommodations, gas cards and wigs, for those fighting breast cancer. During the first four years of Bras on Broadway more than $100,000 was given to the American Cancer Society (ACS), and last year more than $42,000 was raised.

“The generosity of our community and local artists overwhelms me every year,” said Stoker.

Visit the Bras on Broadway website for more information.

A close-up detail shows the variety and color of the bras on the night of the event.

The event organizers work with the American Cancer Society to distribute the money they raise every year. Most of the funds from breast cancer events nationwide go to American Cancer Society corporate and are distributed for research. Bras on Broadway works a little bit differently; all the money raised from Bras on Broadway is distributed locally.

“We work through ACS, but because of our local connection, our local chapter has done a good job of helping keep the money in our area,” said Stoker.

For more information on ACS click here.

A night filled with art and music

The night starts at 7 p.m. with a social time when guests may enjoy food, beverages and music provided by The Front Fenders and Pat Lenertz. The welcome by Stoker takes place shortly after starting at 7:15 p.m. in the restaurant, followed by a welcome in the lounge and in Stokers. After the social time and welcome take place the highlight of the night begins: The Parade of Bras.

For more on The Front Fenders click here.

The non-wearable artwork is hung in the lounge and bids are placed on the clipboards that hang underneath.

Once the parade of bras is over guests can mingle, enjoy more food and beverages and make their bids on the wearable bras. Final bids are placed at 9 p.m. for the non-wearable pieces and at 9:15 p.m. for the wearable pieces, and finally at 9:45 p.m. the winners can pick up and pay for their artwork. The rest of the night is filled with laughter, hope, music and dancing.

“Each year I meet more people that this event actually affects, and that’s what makes this night so special for me,” said Alison Ottesen, general manager of the HoDo and organizer of Bras on Broadway.

The bar tenders keep busy since the restaurant is packed throughout the entire night.

The string of bras outside the HoDo

Even the exterior of the HoDo is an artful masterpiece during October. As part of Bras on Broadway the HoDo is covered with bras that have been given, along with a $5 donation, by women from throughout the area. The continuous garland of bras is hard to miss when walking or driving downtown and has become a staple for the month of October in our area.

“The bras just take on a life of their own,” said Stoker. She and her team take all the donated bras and make one continuous strand of them. The bras are then attached to cords across the roofline and bottom of the HoDo. The cords create a top-and-bottom anchor for an eye-catching, artistic emblem of hope.

The donated art ranges from photographs, sketches, sculptures, pottery, etc.

The parade of bras inside the HoDo

The most anticipated part of the night is seeing and hearing the stories behind the parade of bras. The parade is literally an exhibition in motion of wearable bras created by local and regional artists. Models demonstrate the beauty and strength of women through these handcrafted unique pieces of art. Emcees explain the concepts, goals and humor behind each bra while the models walk throughout the restaurant, lounge and Stoker’s.

The models begin the night in the HoDo restaurant while emcees Jack and Sandy, from KFGO 790, introduce the art and talk about the wearable piece. Next the models “strut their stuff” for the crowd in the lounge with emcees Jane and Chris, from BOB 95, and finally the models make their way to Stoker’s where Popster’s Laura and BOB 95’s Collin, are stationed to present them to the final guests.

For more information on BOB 95 FM click here.

For more on KFGO click here.

For more information on Popster 104.7 FM click here.

Jack and Sandy from KFGO 790 introduce the models in the HoDo restaurant.

The wearable pieces all have some innovative meaning or playful pun behind their creation. This year, Darcy Simonson created the “Mardibra,” which is based on the annual New Orleans celebration of Mardi Gras. The motto behind this bra is: “Life is a celebration and every day is a gift…so party like it’s Mardi Gras in a Mardibra!”

For more information on Darcy click here.

The “Mardibra” represents the celebration of life.

Another playful bra was the “You Gotta Know When to Hold ‘Em” bra created by Kerstin Kealy, co-anchor of WDAY-TV news. The motto of this bra is: “Life can sometimes ‘deal’ you a difficult hand, but it’s all about how you play your cards and ’the support you have around you.”

On the right is the “You Gotta Know When to Hold ‘Em” bra followed by the “Broadway on Bra” bra (center), which is a fun play on words, and finally the “Rock Your Peacock” bra (left), which represents the openness, knowledge, good-fortune, and beauty of the peacock.

Any material can be used to create the artistic wearable bras. Some artists even use old car parts, like the bra “Double Deuce Coupe” created by Punchgut Studio. The bra was inspired by a Victoria’s Secret catalog found in the glove compartment of a ’68 Dodge Charger.

For more information on Punchgut Studio visit their website at http://www.punchgutstudio.com/

The “Double Deuce Coupe” bra is a combination of inspirations from a ’68 Dodge Charger and a Victoria Secret’s magazine.

Some artists even make more then one bra. This year Rosie Sauvageau created four bras based on the main characters of the “Sex and the City.” Her four creations are named after the four women the show revolves around, “Carrie,” “Miranda,” “Sam” and “Charlotte.” She says she was inspired by a love for the ‘fab four’ who rule the streets of New York City and a tribute to their unique style and fashion.

Visit the Sex and the City website for more information.

These four bras represent the four women in the “Sex and the City” TV series, from the left: “Miranda,” “Carrie,” “Sam” and “Charlotte.”

This year there was 45 wearable pieces for guests to bid on, each one featuring its own unique style and concept. A special inspiration for guests this year was that three of the models were breast cancer survivors. These strong and beautiful women got the chance to share their stories with everyone in the room and give back to an organization they believe in.

The “Screen Doors” bra represents that early detection is key; so get in the door and get screened.

The “Boobies with Bling” bra is a fun play for ladies who love their bling. It’s made of Swarkovski crystals surrounded by hammered aluminum swirls.

The “Gotta Love Bear Boobs” bra is another creative play on words created out of wood. Jay Ray created this bra and came up with the tagline of, “I love carving and I love…ahem…boobs?” For more on Jay Ray visit http://jayraycarves.com/.

A night filled with inspiration and hope

“In honor, humor and hope,” is the motto for the event and each year it gets bigger and better. Each year more money is raised to benefit breast cancer and each year more people are affected and uplifted by Bras on Broadway.

Early detection makes a difference in survival rates, and that’s what Bras on Broadway is really about.

“The reason why I’m passionate about both breast cancer and prostate cancer is that we really have some control of these particular kinds of cancer,” said Stoker. “Having a mammogram or getting your prostate level checked makes a difference and saves lives.”

Stoker stands proudly by the donated non-wearable art shortly before the silent auction bidding ends.

“Everybody knows someone who has breast cancer or some type of cancer, which is unfortunate, but we do,” said Ottesen. “Bras on Broadway is a community-driven event that gives hope to people.”

Through local donations, local artists and a community of supportive individuals Bras on Broadway is able to create awareness and raise money for cancer prevention.

“I think this place just glows in the dark that night,” said Stoker.

Gorgeous artwork, talented musicians and a great community all come together to create a beautiful energy and a wonderful sisterhood.

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About hamneska

Katie Marie Hamness was born in Thief River Falls, Minnesota, on December 19, 1987. Hamness is attending Minnesota State University Moorhead to pursue a BFA degree in graphic design and a BS degree in journalism. After graduation, she plans to work as a graphic designer and ultimately, through hard work and promotion, become an art director for a graphic design firm or magazine corporation. Hamness is currently serving as the president of MSUM’s clubDesign student organization and in the spring of 2010 her artwork was showcased and judged by Clarence Morgan in the student art exhibition at MSUM. In September 2010 Hamness’s artwork from Scotland was shown at the “Lang May Yer Lum Reek” exhibition at the MSUM gallery. Some of her writings have been published in the Fargo-Moorhead “ArtsPulse” publication and in “Underground Paranormal” magazine, which is circulated nationwide. She currently lives in Fargo, North Dakota, where she works as a freelance designer, as well as a graphic artist and assistant photographer for MSUM.

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