Funky animal art raises money for worthy cause

Funky animal art raises money for worthy cause

By Page H. Gifford, Correspondent

Compassion Animals on Parade brings together local and area artists who use their creative flair to design items that are being auctioned off to raise awareness and funding for one of Fluvanna’s many non-profit animal rescues, Green Dogs Unleashed (GDU).

“It is a grand collaboration of many incredible GDU volunteers, artists and local Charlottesville business owners,” said Erika Proctor, GDU director and animal behavior specialist.

GDU is a nonprofit animal rescue that focuses on the rescue, rehabilitation and placement of animals in need, with an emphasis on helping special-needs animals.

“Our goal is to responsibly place fully-vetted and spayed and neutered animals into homes, and to train those animals with the right personalities as therapy animals, to bring joy and compassion to people in our communities,” said Proctor.

GDU has training classes for puppies and adult dogs as well as training for certain behavioral problems outside the purview of the regular classes. They are also known for training therapy dogs. Dogs that are friendly, gentle, patient, confident and at ease with strangers are prime candidates to be therapy dogs.

Therapy dogs have proven to be valuable tools in our society in times of need, whether it is after a natural disaster, sitting with children during a reading session, or visiting veterans or the elderly. Through her rescue work and training, Proctor gives back to the community in so many ways.

A volunteer came up with the fundraising idea of having artists add designs to concrete statues of animals, collaborated with boutiques in Charlottesville to auction them off, and implemented the plan with the help of Proctor and other volunteers.

“Similar artwork fundraisers can be seen in other cities around the world,” said Proctor.

The statues are made from concrete and all 17 have been painted by area artists – two from Fluvanna.

“Each artist used their own inspiration to create beautiful pieces of art. Many of the artists told us they were drawn to one particular statue so we accommodated requests as possible,” said Proctor. The statues varied, including a couple of donkeys, a rooster, a goat, a rabbit, cats, dogs and pigs.

Local artists include Cheryl Falkenburry, who painted Wonky Donkey, and Diane Greenwood, who painted the Foxhound. Falkenburry is multi-talented, and aside from her days as a dog trainer and writer about those experiences, she also loves art.

While living in Tuscon, Ariz., she was inspired by the Mexican folk art designs she saw on her few trips over the border to Mexico. This inspiration is evident in the fun, bright colors and designs that Falkenburry applied to Wonky Donkey, making him stand out and intensifying the looks of this cockeyed knockout. Wonky Donkey would make a great addition to any garden.

Greenwood had to sift through a few thought processes to arrive at her inspiration for Foxhound. When her statue arrived, she was told it was a Dalmatian. Her approach would have been more modernistic, with dots and circles. But the more she looked at the statue, the less it looked like a Dalmatian and the more it looked like a German Short-Haired Pointer. The German influence took root for a while, but then her thoughts evolved into another aspect regarding the statue itself. Statues were always associated with grand estates, rolling hills, open fields and outstretched pastures, and fox hunting. This led to her creation of the Foxhound. Her final creation looks like flawless porcelain, and its design is cleverly executed. Disguised in the hound’s reddish brown and deep blue spots are foxes in a variety of poses.

By Derek Karnes

Derek Karnes’ Goat Runner 2049 was less personal and more of a statement. His golden goat is decked out with computer chips and is based on the Phillip K. Dick 1968 novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, which was the basis for the 1982 movie Blade Runner. In Dick’s book the animal species are dwindling or extinct, and owning an animal is all about status and empathy. Karnes’ view of his work is that some things are more precious than money.

Other artists had similar inspirations, most them emanating from their own animals, including: Candice Agnello’s boxer Monk, done in blue abstract design; Tihana Macakanja’s sweet and adorable Apple, the puppy that survived being hit by a car; Mary Tomasso Monteccalvo’s Arrow, a cancer survivor; and the vibrant Laelops by Nicole Wilson. It is only fitting that artists would think of their own animals and their inspiring stories for their creations.

Each statue can be bid on in a silent auction in the store housing it. Proctor added that there is also a scavenger hunt for children with a list of the animal art.

“We are so excited to be able to work so closely with our community to bring compassion and joy to everyone, through this beautiful artwork, this fun and free activity for kids, and by utilizing our therapy dogs to bring smiles to those around us,” Proctor said.

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