A fundraiser at Hope In Art Studio will benefit Canandaigua Canine Campus

CANANDAIGUA — Lesley Shakespeare-Brogan can’t think of a better art exhibit than one with an animal theme.

And a better cause than that of raising money for the Canandaigua Canine Campus dog park? The artist and teacher can’t think of a better cause than that, either.

“There was no way I was going to say no,” she said. “I was thrilled.”

Shakespeare-Brogan owns Hope In Art Studio, which opened last October. Her studio on Mill Street will host the “Going to the Dogs” animal-themed art exhibit and silent auction, which kicks off 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday with a public preview event and continues through April 28.

Forty-seven works by 27 artists will be part of the exhibit. Visitors Saturday will have the opportunity to meet some of the artists as well as vote for the People’s Choice Award.

Shakespeare-Brogan, who taught health education at Monroe Community College and enjoys painting mostly wildlife but especially birds, will have works in the show.

A number of raffle items for bidding have been donated for the cause, including a number of painted rocks depicting dogs, a panda bear and even a gorilla. Shakespeare-Brogan offers painting classes at her studio.

“We love to paint rocks,” she said.

Rocks also will have a special place at the dog park.

A circular garden will be installed at the entrance to the dog park, and will be filled with inscribed rocks, as well as painted rocks, according to Sue Vitek of Canandaigua, who is co-chairing the pet memorial rock garden and is a member of the Friends of Canandaigua Canine Campus citizens group behind the push for the park.

The implementation costs and benches are underwritten by the family and colleagues of the late Laurence Karz. The inscribed rocks will be purchased by community members, to honor pets as well as to donate to the dog park, and also to create a lovely "gateway" to the play areas.

She and husband Pat have purchased two 16-inch rocks in memory of dogs recently lost, which will be on display. In addition to memorial rocks, folks can purchase a rock to honor a living pet or pets.

“The rocks will be delivered as the garden is being installed, hopefully early this summer and there will be some plantings, as well,” Vitek said. “Not only will Canandaigua Canine Campus provide exercise and socialization, but it will be an attractive area for the community to enjoy.”

Nancy Lane, an illustrator and fine artist who has a solo exhibit at Wood Library, also will have works on exhibit. She agreed to be part of the fundraiser because for extroverted dogs, a dog park is a great way to add some excitement and fun in their lives, where otherwise they would be cooped up indoors all day alone.

“Dogs give so much to us, it’s good to give back. Plus, what a nice way to get to know your neighbors,” Lane said.

Dogs also inspire her art, as she said she has always felt a connection and love for animals.

“Among dog lovers and their dogs, there is a deep relationship where love, trust, silliness, joy, and sorrow is shared,” Lane said. “Any dog owner will tell you that emotion is as much a part of their dog’s lives as ours. I believe this to be true in the larger animal world as well. For example, we know elephants grieve. As an artist, animals become another way for me to reveal emotion in a painting instead of having a human. Bonus: They are beautiful. As a vegetarian, I also feel responsible to elevate respect for animals by painting them in a way that reveals their inner life, nobility and equal right to exist.”

Some preliminary clearing work has begun at the dog park site on Buffalo Street. The city and town of Canandaigua are splitting the costs of the first phase of construction, but the Friends organization is trying to raise $78,000 for the second phase.

Nancy McCarthy, who heads up the citizens group, said nearly $43,000 has been raised so far. The exhibit is a key fundraiser for the effort, she said.

The response to the show is encouraging, Shakespeare-Brogan said.

“This has just been wonderful,” she said.

If you go

WHAT: Public preview of the "Going to the Dogs" exhibit and silent auction to benefit Canandaigua Canine Campus dog park

WHEN: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, March 31; animal-themed works will be on exhibit through April 28

WHERE: Hope in Art Studio, 144 Mill St., Canandaigua

INFO: Contact canandaiguacaninecampus.com