‘A Cry For Help’ – the pets that inspire…

Our lil' man Otter chilling with Mr. Toast
Our lil' man Otter chilling with Mr. Toast

When we were putting together the ‘A Cry For Help’ exhibition we asked some of the artists to get back to us on a few questions regarding the show and their pets. We also asked all in the show to shoot us over pics of the animals that are in their lives that help to inspire them on a daily basis. The love we all feel for our furry and feathered friends is a special thing indeed. We’re happy to be able to share with you all some of the great pics and feedback we got as we put this very special show together.

View pics of the artist’s pets here:

We’re also excited to announce a special closing party for ‘A Cry For Help’

CLOSING PARTY – Fri, Feb. 5th 6-9PM
Please note: a can of dog or cat food will be required for entry

BIG NEWSDabs Myla will be painting live during the closing party – don’t miss it!

We are looking to gather as much canned dog and cat food as we can during the closing party, so please bring what you can. We’re also taking blanket donations on behalf of Operation Blankets Of Love. All blankets, food and supplies will be donated at the end of the exhibition to area shelters. More details on the closing party for ‘A Cry For Help’ will be posted here soon.

Please read on below for feedback on the questions we shot out to the artists that took part in ‘A Cry For Help’

1) Please explain your piece for ‘A Cry For Help’. Does your piece feature a certain endangered animal?

(Tran Nguyen) My contribution Coming Apart but We’re Falling Together focuses solely on the emotive aspect of the issue — I didn’t want to limit it’s intention towards one particular animal but as a whole. It emphasizes our destructive mannerisms against animals, nature, and ultimately ourselves, when we neglect care for them. It narrates a world coming apart but if we work together, we can strive to better the lives of these endangered animals and ourselves.

(Yosuke Ueno) I painted an elephant playing the violin. I feel the sounds of the violin like human voices, so the elephant playing the violin is telling stories, or pleading something.

(Dennis Hayes IV) The title Mourning love is a play on words refering to the morning doves long lost cousin the passenger pigeon. I have grown pretty fond of the mourning dove as they hang out with me at my feeder just outside my window next to were i eat my meals. The Dove is perched upon a tilted trefoil knot as a symbol of the intertwining of life and also refers to the christian symbol of the trinity and brings into question the moral implications of our fore fathers ignorance of the mass execution of the passenger pigeon population for game.

(Jesse Hotchkiss) My piece is a representation of the Iberian Lynx. This large cat lives in Spain and Portugal. It is the most vulnerable cat on the endangered species list. If it were to go extinct it would be the first time a large cat has vanished since the Saber-toothed Tiger. Please, don’t buy fur!

(Derek Ihnat) My painting features the Hirola antelope, indigenus to Kenya Africa. This antelope is becoming wildly scarce, and my piece represents an imaginary tribal dance in remembrance and respect for the fallen wildlife native to Kenya, with the Hirola mounted as a beautiful headress.

(Scott Brooks) I included a Himalayan Black Bear in my painting. They are killed for their gall bladders, which are sold as an aphrodisiac. The piece is called “Love in Danger,” and it represents a love triangle.

(Jason Thielke) My piece features an Arabian Oryx. There’s aprox 600 left.

(Allison Sommers) I wanted to convey the grief and absence one associates with the cause of losing endangered animals, but without the animal necessarily being the victim. Thus, I’ve somewhat swapped the roles of human v. animal; it’s not entirely clear, though, whether the dog-beast is a sentinel or a perpetrator. I felt a certain affinity to the fellow… it’s a sad piece somehow…

(Genevive Zacconi) My painting for this exhibit features the endangered Bali Mynah, and is titled “Reciprocity”. The painting is themed on the delicate balance of ecology. The heart is often a symbol of life, and in this painting is used as the fruit of the tree; the bird is eating the worm to nurture itself, but is in turn rids the tree of parasites. The premise is about how everything on the earth is mutually dependent, and the depletion of wildlife carries a consequence for all life surrounding it.

(Jen Lobo) The piece is called ‘Totem for Tomorrow’ and includes ten endangered animals from the sea to the land to the sky.

(Ben Strawn) To start I have to explain the xerces. This Butterfly was considered the first to be driven extinct by urban development, it had such a frail population it was only found in the sand dunes of what is now the sunset district of san francisco. I think animals that are endangered seem like this, frail and unique. But on the other hand, my understanding is that the American bison, despite their unbelievably massive population, not frail in any way, were hunted to the edge of extinction in only 10years. The passenger pigeon was so numerous that flocks would block out the sun, again they were driven extinct in no time at all. These three examples were put down by us, so we think we can’t make the list. The golden toad however was scarcely discovered before it disappeared in 89. scientist think global warming may have done it, it may have just been a drought, luck. whatever the case, I think we could be on the list very easily, whether due to our own actions, or just due to luck. I think according to the news and the feeling around us most of us fear that we’re just due. I think we’re like a kid that’s not sure we got away with something, waiting for dad to find out. So he is my sorry, mean, asthmatic suggestion for addition to the List and the only “endangered” one in the painting

(Kelly Vivanco) My piece, “A Serious Matter” features the endangered Black Footed Ferret. He is imparting some vital information to his friend and her face lets us know it is of grave concern.

(Bradley Delay) The gharial, giant panda, markhor, and sea otter in my painting have banded together to make an expedition, to forge ahead toward a brighter future. In this painting we find the four comrades traversing beyond a relic of the past, an object of spectacle consumption, the car. With courage and determination these expeditionists will surely find a better tomorrow.

(Katelyn Alain) My painting, Alone In Arctic Waters, is a reaction to global warming. The girl in the painting embodies a feeling of isolation and helplessness in a sea of melting ice and stormy skies. It was my intent to humanize the plight of arctic animals as their habitat disappears.

(Dolan Geiman) In the real world, it’s almost impossible to get close to a whale. Therefore, the whale is a curious spectacle. What do his teeth look like? What does his skin feel like? I wanted to create a piece that was just as curious from a distance and changed the closer you came to it. This piece, created with recycled scraps of leather (old baseball gloves, torn purses, leather jackets, old boots), seeks to do that very thing. From a distance, it’s a curious concoction of found materials, differing shades of chocolate and burnt sienna, but upon close inspection each individual scale and piece of skin has its own personality and its own characteristic. Even the whale’s mouth is made from an old zipper, resembling the mouth of a creature who has existed like a sunken ship on the ocean floor, wallowing in the depths for eons. I want the viewer to be curious about this work of art, and therefore to be curious about its inspiration, the largest animal on the planet, and why its life is still endangered.

2) Any story you’d like to share that inspired you to take part in this special show? Something you’ve heard about endangered animals that touched you?

(Tran Nguyen) When I come home, GiGi (my dog) never fails to anxiously and joyfully welcome me inside. That’s inspiration enough for me.

(Yosuke Ueno) It is very miserable and tragic that elephants have been killed for their ivory. So the elephant I had painted has no ivories.

(Jesse Hotchkiss) I’ve always been enchanted by these large cats (Iberian Lynx). They are rarely seen by humans and seem to inhabit a mystical presence. Upon further investigation I’ve found that, as a totem animal, they represent divination and clairvoyance. Also these giant cats are the keeper of secrets.

(Scott Brooks) The movie Born Free came out when I was very young, and I recall seeing it with my family. I even remember watching the short-lived TV show. The song was huge too of course. I think it made a big impact on my views towards animal rights and endangered species.

(Buff Monster) The overfishing of sharks (for their fins) is a terrible terrible situation. Its estimated that as many as 70 million sharks are caught every year just for their fins is insane. Now the Great White, among others, is considered an endangered species.

(Allison Sommers) No specific anecdote– I’ve always, always been an animal lover, and have always felt deeply a connection to them that is often more tangible and honest than the connection I have with people.

(Rebecca Hahn) I have always been a big softy for animals. Both of my parents were dog groomers and for a short while had a pet shop while I was growing up. I was surrounded by animals all of the time. I guess that’s why when I see animals in danger or images of polar bears stranded and drifting on a single iceberg it breaks my heart. Animals only have a voice if we give them one. It is our responsibility to do that.

(Genevive Zacconi) When I was researching endangered animals for this show, I was immediately captivated by the beauty of the Bali Mynah. I was equally as disheartened when I learned how few remain of them in the wild.

(Jen Lobo) Animals are near and dear to me and are the subject of all my work. The amount of animals that are disappearing at such a rapid pace is absolutely heartbreaking. It’s unfortunate that we’ve found ourselves in such a time where even if a species is saved in captivity, they often times won’t have a habitat in the wild to return to. Can’t help but think that the plants and animals that are becoming extinct are the canaries in the coal mine of our planet.

(Chet Zar) I have always been an animal lover, so much so that in 1987 I became a vegetarian.

(Ben Strawn) One of the most amazing things I have seen is a field in Missouri filled with an ocean of fireflies, you could see them flowing like waves. Here is an article about their recent population decline and the difficulty in studying their populations. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26471876/ . As long as the list of endangered animals is, think of how many species it can’t measure, that it may be missing. Ghost species that will never even be known. The golden toad was discovered only a few years before it went extinct in 1989. It was first discovered in the 1970s.

(Kelly Vivanco) I am honored to take part in this show as it is close to my heart. I paint animals in many of my work and feel a deep connection to them. The fact that habitats are being destroyed and poisoned and so many species are seeing dwindling numbers or disappearing completely is devastating.

(Craig ‘Skibs’ Barker) My wife, Kristen, and I contribute to various animal rights organizations as well as occasionally donating food and bedding to our local Animal Shelter…where we rescued both of our dogs from.

(Dolan Geiman) I was recently having a conversation about hunting with a colleague of mine who is an ecologist at Notre Dame in Indiana. I come from a long line of hunters and naturalists in Virginia and am always straddling the fence in my conversations with ecologists and activists. However, his remarks shocked me. He said, “If it wasn’t for hunters and fishermen, we would have no national parks, no forest service, no river cleanup, no piers, no whale watching cruises, no bird sanctuaries, and no major scenic byways through wild terrain. As well as no major hiking or biking trails or campgrounds.” Hunters are the first group of people who press for protection of the animals and fish and birds when the legislation comes to Congress for a new conservation bill. They (hunters and fishermen) pay more money annually for preservation of our parks than any other group, activists included. And the most shocking truth of all: in a society of TVs, laptops and iPhones, hunters and fishermen are some of the only people who actually go outside, who actually have a real and valid connection with the nature they are fighting to protect. Many activist organizations love to target hunters, but the real quarry should be the thousands of uninterested Americans, the couch potatoes, the indoor urban elitist, those whose only goal is to take from mother nature or to build a fence to keep her out. If you want to truly be an activist, to truly help the cause of the endangered species, the best thing to do is to go outside, to be active, to explore the world in your backyard. You don’t have to travel that far to immerse yourself in nature. Go make a connection.

3) Do you have a pet? If so, please tell us a lil’ bit about him/her if you can.

(Tran Nguyen) I have a dog named GiGi and also, recently adopted a cat, Merw. To describe GiGi is describing those huge, buffed up men that look tough and dangerous, but deep down are just cuddle-able bears. Merw, on the other hand, is as mischievous as she is affectionate. (I’ve attached two photos of them)

(Jesse Hotchkiss) I have two cats: one 11 year old diluted tortoise-shell SPCA rescue (Suki) and one 3 month old light-gray tabby found in our neighborhood (Pan).

(Derek Ihnat) My labrador Beau, He was rescued from a shelter and has become a wonderful addition to our home. Also, we have our cats Whiskey and Glenn, two cats who have grown up in our family for over 14 years and give us constant entertainment and companionship.

(Jason Thielke) Yes, a Golden Retriever, her name is Maisy Day. She’s 13 years old. She used to be a great trail dog and running partner. She tore her ACL two years ago jumping off our back stoop. Now she just hangs out.

(Allison Sommers) Ludwig the hedgehog. She’s the strangest pet I’ve ever had, she has a very certain little personality and ‘rules the roost’ in her own quiet way. She’s started taking a real liking to bathtime, which is pretty much the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.

(Rebecca Hahn) My husband and I have a 7 year old Whippet named Quimby. He is my buddy all day long, shadowing my every move. He loves frisbee, being out in nature, anything soft like our sofa (he has a bed in every room!) and food! Oh, and he also loves the UPS man and opening packages.

(Michael Pukac) Pingwen’s predilections include sunbathing in piles of glitter, knocking down canvasses, sideways ninja attacks, hiding board game pieces, and hunting down rubber duckies in the bathtub.

(Jen Lobo) We have two dogs, an insane Boston Terrier named Scraps and an enormous mutt named Bailey, a cat named All Ball (after Koko’s kitten), a red footed tortoise whose name keeps changing, I think this week it’s Rosey. And my son has a leopard gecko named Murdock.

(Chet Zar) I have a Pit Bull/ Rhodesian Ridgeback mix named Tatsu that we got from a rescue. He thinks he’s a lap dog.

(Ben Strawn) My wife and I have three dogs, we used to volunteer at a rescue in town and ended up adopting them. Wyatt was kept on a yard long chain infront of a trailer home until the rescue purchased him from the owner. another : Lexy is a three legged beagle that was found after being hit by a car, they amputated the leg. She still has no fear of anything. The third is our ghost dog Evee. She was a wild dog that lived in the woods on the west side of town where rednecks shoot dogs for target practice. My wife worked with her a long time, and now she’s not shy, hardly at all. We love them, having pets is strange, not like kids, when you adopt a pet you know they’ll die before you, but you do it anyway.

(Kelly McKernan) For both of my pieces, I chose animals I already have a soft spot for, namely sea creatures and birds. The Ornate Eagle Ray is completely mystifying with its grace (youtube it and find a video of it swimming), and the Honduran Emerald Hummingbird’s displays gorgeous colors. I narrowed my search down to these two creatures based on their aesthetic and how they would fit in with mine.

(Kelly Vivanco) We have a rescue dog named “Ruggers”. He is half Jack Russel and half Chihuahua and just the happiest guy in the world. He is a few years old and when we got him he took a while to warm up. He had been adopted out previously to a family that had moved away and left him in their backyard. Luckily he is chipped and was picked up from the pound by the rescue again when he escaped. He was very skittish and didn’t know how to play at first but you wouldn’t know that now!

(Bradley Delay) I have a grey cat named Lucian or Louie for short, he is very talkative and is missing a few front bottom teeth which makes his meow with a lisp. He enjoys helping me paint (I’m sure you can find his fur dried between the layers of paint) and had a lot of input in this particular canvas.

(Dolan Geiman) I only have one pet currently. When I was growing up in Virginia, we had 5 dogs, 23 cats, 2 birds, 4 fish , and about 50 head of cattle. As well as two ponies and a few chickens. When I moved to Chicago, I decided this was no place for cattle. I also couldn’t bring my ponies. Or the five dogs. The fish disappeared, the chickens liked the farm too much to move, and the cats, well, they were a major employee of the farm, keeping the resident population of mice at a natural level. So I came empty-pet handed. After seven years, I finally adopted a wonderful if very aggressive and spunky cat named Racine. She was abandoned at our studio building and decided she wanted to live with me, so I guess she adopted me actually. She is stubborn, hard headed, hungry, and ruthless. She’s a true Chicagoan.

Fri, Feb. 5th 6-9PM (special closing part for ‘A Cry For Help’)

View the works from ‘A Cry For Help’ here:

4210 Santa Monica Blvd. (near Sunset Junction in Silver Lake area of Los Angeles)

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