Planet Hair bows out of Art Aid, but the Positive Directions fundraiser will go on

WICHITA — The owners of Planet Hair are bowing out of producing Art Aid’s hair and fashion show, but the show will go on.

“It’s bittersweet for us in a lot of ways,” says Graham Ross, who along with partners Tod and Linda Ernst started their fundraising fashion show in a small club in 1993.

“Things change,” says Cody Patton, executive director of Positive Directions, an AIDS service organization that benefits from Art Aid. The show grew into an art auction, show and party.

“There are definitely no hard feelings on anybody’s part,” Patton says. “I told them I completely understand where they’re coming from and appreciated the years they contributed to it.”

Ross says he and the Ernsts became involved because they wanted to do a fashion show.

“We had some fun inspirations and looks we wanted to do.”

He says they thought it would be great to raise money for AIDS causes, and the show benefited several organizations through the years.

“We wanted it to get bigger, and it did,” Ross says. “It became so big that it just got really, really hard for us to try to run our salon … and do the event (in) the way we needed to do it.”

A few years back, the Plant Hair owners began alternating years for the event, and Positive Directions threw an Art 4 Life event on the years Art Aid was off.

Patton says last year’s Art Aid was a fabulous event that raised $114,000, but he says there were a lot of frustrations, too.

“Everybody was pretty strained,” he says. “It just takes so much to pull off an event like that on everybody’s part.”

Ross says he and the Ernsts still want to support Positive Directions and other groups, but that “it just needs to be something that’s not as taxing on our business and not as taxing on our staff and us.”

Patton says there will be a meeting later this week to formalize some things for this year’s show and how it will move forward.

“I can’t tell you specifics because I don’t know them yet,” he says. “We’re looking at doing something different with the art this year.”

He says that’s so artists who contribute their work to silent and live auctions also won’t feel as strained every year.

Ross says the salon’s affiliation with Art Aid has been a positive one.

“It was just an amazing run.”