Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Art of Saving Shelter Dogs at "An Act of Dog"

"A Collection of Paintings to be Hung"
Credit: An Act of Dog
Mike Barone and Marina Dervan
The portrait of many shelter dogs jump out at you with their soulful presence at the non-profit An Act of Dog in Mellwood Arts Center, Louisville, KY. All of these dogs were euthanized at animal shelters. This is the reason that "An Act of Dog" exists, to prevent other dogs from their sad fate.

"Mark Barone and Marina Dervan"
Credit: Mark Barone
Mark Barone and Marina Dervan are co-founders of the non-profit An Act of Dogwhich strives to make our country a no-kill nation for shelter pets. Mark has been an artist for over 30 years and has been featured in top art publications as well as winning awards for his work. Many of his pieces are hanging in private and corporate collections all over the world.

There is one event in Mark and Marina’s life that turned their entire focus and talents towards saving shelter dogs across the country. Mark’s 21 year old little dog Santina passed away in 2010. After moving to New Mexico to live, Marina decided to go online to search for a new dog for Mark. What she found would change their lives forever. While searching she was finding out about a tragic story that is played out across the country every day in animal shelters. A staggering number of shelter dogs are euthanized every day in this country, that number comes to about 5500 dogs a day being put to death. After a passionate discussion of this tragedy they decided to try and come up with a solution to the problem thus they combined both of their considerable talents and the non-profit An Act of Dog was born. Mark and Marina soon realized that in order to pull this off, it was going to require 100% commitment from them both; which meant giving up their jobs and income, cashing in all of their retirement savings, and living frugally for a few years, and maybe forever.
"Mark Painting Oreo"
Credit: Mark Barone
What is An Act of Dog? Mark is putting his huge talent as an artist to work and is currently in the process of painting 5500 portraits of shelter dogs who did not make it out of shelters alive in studio space provided by the Mellwood Art Center in Louisville, Kentucky. This is the same number of dogs killed in America each day. When you look at each of these pieces of work the dogs’ personalities jump out at you. They exhibit playfulness, sadness, but the eyes are what grabs your attention, those soulful eyes. His work is amazing and up until this project was launched he had not painted dogs before; but his passion about saving other shelter dogs from the same sad fate is evident in each portrait so that the subjects of his paintings will not have died in vain. Presently 3500 paintings have been finished over a two year period. When you look at all those paintings it is quite an emotional experience to understand that dogs portrayed in the paintings, did not get their happy ending. Getting the collection finished is phase one of the project.
"Harry- owner surrendered- killed
within 5 hours"
Credit: Mark Barone

The goal for the once completed 5500 paintings is to have them displayed in a permanent museum devoted to raising funds for no-kill rescues and shelters across the country to help them save more animals. The paintings will be reproduced on shirts, cards, and other products to be sold via an online store with the goal of raising $20,000,000 plus with 100% of funds to be distributed nationally to no-kill facilities and rescues. This would allow the museum to continue funding well into the future. Phase two has them looking for cities to be a host to this museum and willing to subsidize the costs of getting permanent space and getting it open to the public. The biggest and final goal of this museum is to become an educational platform for ushering our nation to a no-kill platform that spends tax dollars on more positive solutions to the unwanted pet problem.

Credit: Mark Barone
An Act of Dog has a number of wonderful supporters in Louisville helping them to get their project completed. They are so very grateful to those who share in their vision and have helped them including John Clark, owner of the Mellwoods Art Center for donating their work space for the past 26 months, Tammi and Tabby Lewis Conti, John Conti, Colin and Woo Speed McNaughton, and Becky Brown, all banded together to pay their rent for both housing and studio for the next 7 months, in order to help them finish painting the exhibit.

This project has received national and international attention having coverage in USA Today, and will have an article published in Oprah’s “O” magazine, as well as be included in a new National Geographic book. They will continue to seek media coverage to garner more support for this one of kind worthy cause.
If you want to help them out and keep up with what is happening at An Act of Dog you can do so by going to their website An Act of Dog.

"An Act of Dog"
Credit: Mark Barone

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