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Sit, Stay. Art! (Mar 17, 2011)

Animals have appeared prominently in art throughout our history. From ancient & rudimentary cave paintings to the more elaborate and modern illustrations of James Audubon and Andy Warhol, our animal neighbors have been well represented. Oftentimes that artful expression reflects a personal connection to the subject matter, as is the case with the animal art to be displayed during a unique showing and sale this Friday evening in downtown Oklahoma City.

Sit, Stay. Art!, which debuted in 2009, is the brainchild of area art enthusiast and animal welfare advocate, Sandina Heckert.

“I am married to an artist and we both have great passion for pets. When we adopted our first pet we realized that there are a lot animals out there waiting for homes that simply don’t get the attention they need in order to get adopted. And so we decided to put together this event to try and help bring some more exposure to the rescue organizations… and (to) promote pet adoptions."

A fundraising, animal art showcase, Sit, Stay. Art! relies on the vision and talents of local artists who select sheltered ‘pets in waiting’ as the subjects of their work. The animals and their representative art pieces are then placed up for “adoption” the night of the showing.

Though only the second such showcase, the response by area artists has been overwhelming. Nearly 60 artists are contributing to this year’s event… and the works are varied, representing both the artist's unique skill-sets and the subject’s rather unique attributes.

“My favorite thing about doing this is seeing how the different artists represent the pets that they select and which pets they select. I think a lot of the artists will select a pet based on either a pet they currently have… or have lost. And they also try and pick pets who maybe they think need more help getting adopted. Maybe they have a disability, or flaw. Or, maybe they’re just very plain, and nobody would think to adopt them because they don’t really stand out.”

This year’s artwork was inspired by those animals currently in the care of Yukon’s Pets & People Humane Society, a non-profit, organization that operates under one basic premise...

“They go into ‘kill’ shelters the day that the animals are to be euthanized and save them. And they save as many as they can. They don’t select animals based on their appearance. They don’t try and pick the ‘cute’ ones. They just try and save in quantity, and they’re quite unique in that aspect.”

Also rather unique is the backdrop for Sit, Stay. Art! exhibit and fundraiser as Sandina Heckert further explains.

“People who are used to attending art openings expect a certain atmosphere which we will provide. We’re going to have local restaurants providing food for us. We also have beer and wine available, as well as non-alcoholic drinks… And so, this is a very traditional art exhibit in terms of (you know) what somebody would expect to experience.”

“However, most art exhibits do not have four-legged guests. In addition to some of the pets who are waiting to be adopted (&) featured in the art, we are inviting people to bring their ‘leashed’ pet… So, in that way it will be a little bit different.”

Sandina Heckert, founder of Sit, Stay. Art! The space for this year’s event is known as The Exchange, and is on historic ‘Film Row’ at 700½ West Sheridan in Downtown Oklahoma City. The event runs from 7 to 11 p.m. Friday evening. Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door.

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