Animal art on display at festival
by Sarah Dollendorf
The 47th annual Lewiston Art Festival will premiere on Center Street in Lewiston on Aug. 11 and 12, featuring signature designs from more than 175 artists and fine crafters. Of these artists this year, "man's best friend," is transforming the festival and bringing a new level of interaction that has never been available before through Heart of Niagara Animal Rescue.
Heart of Niagara's Art Festival booth, located in front of Grandpaws Pet Emporium at 784 Center St., will feature not only signature pet "rescue art" artwork for sale and on display, but also the tail-wagging artistic pups that are up for adoption in order for the public to meet these pets throughout the festival.
Formed earlier this year, Heart of Niagara Animal Rescue has a mission to protect and manage the health of abandoned, unwanted and homeless animals and provide them with a home prior to finding them permanently suitable adoptive families. This not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization establishes the well-being and safety of rescued animals as the top priorities for its group; thus animals are evaluated, vaccinated and spayed or neutered prior to adoption. Seeking to educate the community and showcase its newly founded rescue organization, Heart of Niagara is participating for its first year in the Lewiston Art Festival.
"Heart of Niagara has been great to work with," stated Andrew Bell, owner of Grandpaws Pet Emporium. "They're a well organized group and we love that we can work with them a few times every week in the summer to work toward adoption of rescued animals. Grandpaws loves to support all local rescues in whatever way we can - whether it is with providing space or just to help overall in the adoption process. So Heart of Niagara's been great to work with."
"Of course the aim is adoption for these dogs, so people have the option to meet them and to bring over their own pups for a neutral-location meet and greet at Grandpaws. That way, we can eliminate territorial claims that would be present at a home with a current dog and the dog up for adoption to see if the two dogs get along," stated Linda van Harssel, the media and fundraising director of Heart of Niagara Animal Rescue. "But even if people aren't interested in adoption, their dogs are welcome to our booth at the festival, especially if owners want to create their own artwork with their pups for some interactive fun."
Those very rescue dogs have crafted the Heart of Niagara's "rescue art" to create doggy masterpieces. Dog paw prints dipped in paint pranced along blank canvases on the floor will be on display and available for sale to help fundraise for Heart of Niagara's expansion into its own building.
"We (board of directors members Cyndi Luna, Linda van Harssel, Margie Kwiatkowski and Kathy Nowakowski) all sat down and talked, and we came to an agreement after being inspired by researching creative ideas for our booth that it would be fun for our little guys to walk through with paint, so they did! We and the pups had a great time, and we're looking forward to sharing it with the public," said Nowakowski, the Heart of Niagara managing director.
Also premiering at the festival is the "Paw-Casso's/Dog-Vinci's" exhibit to showcase these dogs and to bring smiles to participants' faces. "If people want our dogs to make their artwork at the festival, we can make it on the spot. But if people are interested in supporting us and bringing their dog to the festival to make artwork, they have two options: they can buy the rescue art and bring it home for their dog to put their paw print on if they don't want to do it right then and there, or their pet can paint right at our booth - it all depends on what people want to do, but there's lots of choices. Every painting helps us so much, since it's all to raise money," van Harssel said.
As for other artwork on display at the Heart of Niagara Animal Rescue booth, pieces donated by talented artists will be exhibited for all to witness while basking in the dog days of the festival. A large pet photo by Wild Eye Mobile Pet Photography, donated by Corky Giambra, a wildlife print donated by artist Lenny Rusin and an original painting by Ron Steinbrenner, will add artistic depth through other wildlife elements at this booth, with a beautiful array of talent - rendered by both pup and human - presented to those that visit.
When instinct tells you it's time to eat, hot dogs, water, pop and snacks will be available at the Heart of Niagara booth.
In addition to the vast array of artistic opportunities presented for purchase through this scope of the Lewiston Art Festival, bandanas will also be available for sale. Come out and support the budding organization Heart of Niagara Animal Rescue at the Lewiston Art Festival, and fall in love not only with its cause and kindhearted mission, but the little artistic animals themselves.
To furthermore help support Heart of Niagara, on Saturday, Sept. 14, and Sunday, Sept. 15, at the Lewiston Fire Hall No. 1, the Animal Rescue group is hosting an event sponsored by Grandpaws Pet Emporium featuring the American Dog Whisperer. Tickets are available at Grandpaws Pet Emporium - where its booth will be set up in front of at the Lewiston Art Festival - and on their website (Web address listed below).
In addition, Heart of Niagara is hosting a "Giving Thanks" banquet on Friday, Nov. 15, to "hopefully celebrate the adoption of 100 dogs and to continue to raise money for our own building," van Harssel said.
Volunteers are always welcome to help out at any and all of these events. Heart of Niagara Animal Rescue has a continually growing volunteer base of more than 50 members that welcomes people to participate for their cause. Volunteers meet the second Wednesday of every month from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Messiah Lutheran Church in Lewiston. To purchase tickets for the September event, to get involved or for further information about Heart of Niagara Animal Rescue and upcoming events like the Lewiston Art Festival, visit www.heartofniagara.org/.