A cat might consider itself a perfect work of art, but felines, and their canine counterparts, don't often sit still long enough to truly admire them. Plus, they probably wouldn't like being put in a frame and hung on the wall. Maybe that's why they've long been muses for great artists.
On display Friday at Rags to Rescue, "Art to the Rescue" features paintings of all kinds of animals that, for a reasonable price, could be yours. To sweeten the deal even more, proceeds will go to a cause any of these art buyers are sure to love: H.A.L.T. Rescue, which helps local animals in need. The paintings will be on display and refreshments will be served during the Friday reception.
"The cause is so fabulous," said Ginny Espinoza, a volunteer at Rags to Rescue, a nonprofit second-hand store affiliated with H.A.L.T. "Bakersfield has so many animals running around that need help."
The paintings are by German pop artist Gabriele Muller, whom Espinoza first connected with via online auction site eBay. The two stayed in contact, bonding over a shared birthday 10 years apart. When Muller found out Espinoza was involved with animal rescue, she asked how she could help. Art was the answer.
In addition to paintings of dogs, cats, birds, polar bears and other animals, Muller also donated some pieces in her signature style, consisting of circles of different sizes and colors making up various images. One painting of a pair of dogs is marked $19, while another dog painting, set in a nice frame, is $32. A painting of Frida Kahlo is $25.
"The prices are extremely mild," Espinoza said, adding that the store has already sold several paintings since Muller started sending the paintings about six or seven months ago.
The show will have 40 paintings, most of them of animals, donated by Muller. Anyone who likes Muller's style but would prefer to have a painting of their own beloved pet can commission a painting through Espinoza at Rags to Rescue.
While Espinoza hopes to sell some paintings, she also hopes the event will bring more people to Rags to Rescue, and as a result, more money for H.A.L.T. The store opened two years ago inside an old house on H Street but is easy to miss on the busy street (find it just north of where H and Bank streets meet). Inside each room of the house are books, plates, art, jewelry, home decor and more for sale.
"Everything in here is donated," Espinoza said. "It all benefits H.A.L.T."
The store helps Hunter's Fund, which helps dog owners in need of financial support in emergency situations, Espinoza said.
Espinoza had originally hoped to have the art show at a museum or gallery but found the cost of renting a venue to be too expensive for an organization dedicated to raising money to save animals.
"We needed to do something else," Espinoza recalled. "Well, we'll try this. I just don't give up that quickly."
The decision to have it at Rags might have been a next-best option, but now it's also a chance for people to check out the store, possibly for the first time.
The art show "is part of it, but we want people to be introduced to the store because it's such a great opportunity to support a rescue," Espinoza said. "You can't always run after a dog in the street, but this is one way to help."