Lisa Archer Leach, vice president of the Routt County Humane Society, and Lee Smith of NRC Broadcasting, join Maggie Smith artist and co-president of the Routt County Humane Society on the front step of The Portfolio Collection. Maggie used one of local photographer Jim Steinberg's photographs to fashion her dog for the Art Unleashed fundraiser for the Humane Society.

Photo by John F. Russell

Lisa Archer Leach, vice president of the Routt County Humane Society, and Lee Smith of NRC Broadcasting, join Maggie Smith artist and co-president of the Routt County Humane Society on the front step of The Portfolio Collection. Maggie used one of local photographer Jim Steinberg's photographs to fashion her dog for the Art Unleashed fundraiser for the Humane Society.

Sidewalk dogs need homes

Humane Society to auction decorated statues at annual fundraiser

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Past Event

Art Unleashed

  • Saturday, September 13, 2008, 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.
  • (One-off place), Chicago, IL
  • All ages / $20

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Maggie Smith hadn't intended to be a contributing artist for the Routt County Humane Society's "Art Unleashed" fundraiser.

As the Humane Society's co-president, Smith was in charge of recruiting artists to decorate the 12 fiberglass dogs that will be up for live auction at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at the Steamboat Springs Community Center. But when a photo "mod podging" experiment gone awry meant one of those dogs wasn't ready a few days before "Art Unleashed" unveiled in 12 downtown locations at the beginning of June, Smith volunteered to paint the delinquent dog herself.

"We had painted the dog pewter, and the effect of the mod podge made it look like a 2-year-old had stuck stickers all over the dog and left it out in the rain," wrote Catherine Turner, the director of marketing for Jim Steinberg's Portfolio Publications who attempted to affix Steinberg's nature photography to the sculpture.

"The next day, Maggie Smith came by and said, 'I have an idea on how we can fix Steinberg. (We can) take one of Jim's most famous photos and paint it onto the dog.' I replied, 'I don't paint!' She said, 'No I will volunteer to paint the dog.'" She and Smith chose an iconic image of the More Barn. "Steinberg - Barn Again" was born.

"Barn Again" spent most of the summer outside The Portfolio Collection, drawing attention from passersby and less statuesque canines. Funds raised from the sculpture's live auction will go toward the Humane Society's efforts to help shelter animals find homes. The "Art Unleashed" project is sponsored by Union Wireless and NRC Broadcasting.

(The dogs) "are more or less being fostered by businesses, and so we're trying to find their permanent homes, which is really what the Humane Society is all about," said Humane Society Vice President Lisa Archer Leach.

Decorating inanimate animals and putting them up for auction is not by any means a new idea, Archer Leach said, but it is one that makes sense for Steamboat. The same idea has worked for catfish in Nashville and cows in Chicago, where local talents contributed their skills to public art.

"You're not just making a donation and you're not just making a purchase. You're really investing in local art, and in what we consider to be a very good cause," Archer Leach said.

Proceeds from Saturday's live and silent auctions will go toward the Humane Society's goal of spaying and neutering shelter animals to cut down on Routt County's unwanted-pet population, Smith said. The Humane Society also offers assistance with emergency veterinary bills for low-income pet-owners and adoption advertisements for pets that have stayed in the Steamboat Springs Animal Shelter for an extended time.

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