Cecil Whig- July 10, 2015
By Sam Luvisi [email protected]
ELKTON – The Cecil County Arts Council barks up a new tree with dog-themed festivities this Friday.
Based around art exhibition “Something to Bark About,” a collection of photo portraits of shelter dogs by Jessica St. Clair, and open show “It's a Dog's Life,” the council hosts its first furry-friend themed night. There will be an array of dog-themed features at 135 E. Main St. and throughout downtown Elkton from 5 to 8 p.m. on Friday.
“It just kind of mushroomed,” said Annmarie Hamilton, the council's executive director.
After announcing the event, the council received many offers from community members to volunteer, Hamilton added. Some of the proceeds from the night will go toward A Buddy for Life, a private rescue operation that serves as the animal control agency for Cecil County.
“This has a lot of enthusiasm because of all the animal lovers,” Hamilton said.
In addition to the gallery opening, events include a K-9 unit demonstration from the Elkton Police Department, “Ask a Vet” with Dr. Mindy Carletti, the Kona Ice Truck, and dog treat and clothing vendors. Lunchlines, a local poetry group that meets at the arts council, will present poems about dogs.
Certain businesses will be participating in “Paws on the Pavement,” an extension of the event from the Elkton Chamber & Alliance and PAWS for People, a pet-assisted visitation volunteer services. Attendees are invited to bring leashed dogs into participating businesses downtown. There will also be contests and games for those who bring along their dogs, and A Buddy for Life will be showing some adoptable dogs as well.
St. Clair said she created “Something to Bark About” – featuring photos of dogs on colorful backgrounds with personal quotes about their lovable canine qualities – as a spin-off of her greeting card collection, “Bark Remarks.” Her mission is to feature and help dogs in need.
“In this exhibit I wanted to highlight the amazing qualities dogs possess and the precious life lessons they offer humans,” she said. She hopes her art and the event will inspire others to adopt and aid the dogs. “It's heartbreaking to hear the sad past some of these pups came from, and I hope showcasing their beautiful and resilient character in a creative way will help generate positive attention for them.”
She said photographing the shelter dogs was “a blast.”
“They instinctively ham it up and give me some of the most priceless expressions,” she said. “They can be the biggest challenge because they're an excited blur of fur, but they are definitely the most rewarding experience.”
The brightly colored backgrounds were created as a way to draw attention to the dogs' faces, said St. Clair.
“Especially their eyes, I felt it was important to have vibrant yet simplified backdrops to set them against,” she said. “I hand-drew doodles for an innocent, whimsical feel and used a different energetic color for each design.”
Inspiration for St. Clair's personal quotes came sitting with her own dog, Molly, she said.
“Along with memories of every dog I've ever loved, the personal quotes flowed out of my heart, through my hand and onto paper like music,” she said. “I wanted the images to really resonate with people, and I felt if they were set to words that are relatable and could tug a heart string, the impact would be even deeper.”
St. Clair said she hopes people “feel a sense of community, the value of creative expression, and the desire to do something good,” in viewing her exhibit, which will be on display until July 31.
“If they have a dog, I hope they go home and give it an extra big hug,” she said. “If they're interested in expanding their family, I hope this exhibit might inspire them to visit a shelter and give a dog in need the loving family it deserves.
“It's a Dog's Life” and related downtown Elkton activities are free on Friday from 5 to 8 p.m. on Main Street in Elkton. Call 410-392-5740 for questions related to the event.