Arts at Denver, July 19-August 2
This story was featured in the July 2014 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art July 2014 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story!
This month Arts at Denver welcomes paintings depicting dogs, cats, and more to the gallery for its second annual animals-in-art show to benefit the MaxFund, the city’s only no-kill dog and cat shelter. “Denver is truly a pet town with a high percentage of dog and cat owners,” says Paula Colette Conley, gallery direct-or and proprietor. “The MaxFund is one of the most beloved nonprofits in town.”
The show, titled Woof! Meow! Chirp!, opens with a reception from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, July 19, and includes 40 new paintings. The works spotlight creatures great and small, from lumbering elephants to tiny birds. Among this year’s 33 participating artists are Lani Vlaanderen, Cecilia Thorell, Fran Gottlieb, Mimi deOlloqui, and Beverly Endsley.
Endsley participated in the show last year and is pleased to be returning. For this year’s presentation she is displaying paintings populated by bunnies, cats, dogs, and foxes. When Endsley isn’t painting, she works with local animal protection leagues to rescue injured rabbits and nurture them back to health. “To celebrate two of the things so near and dear to my heart, animals and art, is a huge calling for me,” she says.
This year the artist also painted family pets using photos submitted by the gallery’s collectors as reference material. The collectors shared stories about their favorite creatures that touched and inspired her, Endsley says. The paintings are also part of the show. “To be able to transform photos into lasting portraits of tribute to beloved companions is a special joy,” Endsley says.
For Dan Oakleaf, this marks his first year of participation, and he is thrilled to be invited because he is passionate about both domestic and wild animals. “The fact that the MaxFund is a no-kill shelter really makes this show worthwhile,” he says. Oakleaf’s drawing RIFF-RAFF is among the artworks presented in the show. The title refers to the name he bestowed on a stray cat that hangs out at a friend’s house. “I love the juxtaposition of him among the piles of junk—the scruffy appearance and rogue nature of a stray mixed with the quiet dignity of grooming,” Oakleaf says. “It’s kind of a metaphor for our societal relationship with the fringe elements of both the animal and human world.”
Artist Jody Rigsby is known for her colorful portrayals of animals and flowers. Her painting BLUE-EYED JACK is representative of her current work as well as a nostalgic nod to her past. “I grew up with horses, so they hold a special place in my heart,” Rigsby says. “BLUE-EYED JACK is inspired by a horse I photographed on a painting trip in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. I wanted to capture the feeling of the gentle and regal horse.”
Finally, as part of the opening events, MaxFund volunteers are present at the gallery with adoptable dogs and cats from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The MaxFund was established in 1988 to provide medical care for injured pets with no known owners and to seek out new homes for these animals once they recover. —Bonnie Gangelhoff
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