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Washington Animal Rescue League Katrina Fundraiser

Bless the beasts and the artists who love them

Discovery Too holds benefit exhibition for animal rescue group
by Karen Schafer | Staff Writer from The Gazette
Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2007

From the moment Scotlund Haisley arrived in New Orleans some five days after Hurricane Katrina, he knew this rescue mission would be different from his previous ones. The Washington Animal Rescue League's executive director was sure he had seen it all. But even now, two years later, this tough guy tears up recalling the horrors he witnessed.

The surreal craziness began at a checkpoint through which only rescuers could pass into the devastated areas. Once the hordes of people milling around learned Haisley's team was rescuing pets, some "60 people, throwing their house keys along with bits of paper with addresses and cell phone numbers? stormed them. Unable to return to their homes, they were desperate to find someone who could help their pets.

In the end, Haisley's team saved some 1,000 animals, and brought 200 homeless dogs and cats to D.C. A happy ending? Not on your life. Katrina's wrath continues. A post-hurricane puppy and kitten boom hit New Orleans and its surrounding districts. And again, the rescue league is off on its 11th mission, hoping to bring back as many pets as can be packed into two vans. Driving a couple of vans down is the inexpensive part; the medical treatments promise to set the league back some $25,000.

This is where art comes into the picture. A convergence of saintly souls ? in the form of three artists and the Discovery Too art gallery in Bethesda ? is holding a benefit exhibit "Lest We Forget: Three Perspectives on Hurricane Katrina? through Aug. 29. At least half the profits are earmarked for the rescue league, gallery manager Jennifer Smith promises.

These aren't just any old artists; each knows the hurricane's aftermath intimately. Three-time Pulitzer Prize winning photographer Carol Guzy will show some 70 images from her year there, on leave from the Washington Post. Haisley is also a painter; for this show, he used many of Guzy's images as inspiration to capture the terror he saw in a dog's eyes as it struggled to swim toward safety. Rounding out the show is William Manley, a successful New Orleans painter who lost everything and is now struggling to remake his life in Maryland. Many of his brilliantly colored acrylics depict a happier New Orleans, with yawning front stoops and languid architectural landscapes.

Eye of the storm

Like many other photographers, Guzy went to New Orleans to document Katrina's virulent rampage. Unlike the journalists who covered human suffering, she wanted to offer a glimpse of how the devastation affected domesticated animals.

Having photographed genocide in Kosovo and suffering in Haiti, Guzy admits to using her camera as a shield. As in those previous experiences, she paid an [emotional] price. "I was an eye witness to thousands of suffering animals.?

Amid the chaos, Guzy connected with her good friend Haisley, and asked to accompany the rescuers. She documented the group as they picked up animals and fed and gave water to wandering strays.

The experience also took its toll on Haisley. After running on adrenalin for 10 consecutive days, he broke down on the plane returning to D.C. After getting counseling, he realized "it was time to paint what I saw.?

Manley has a different point of view. A successful painter living in the Holy Cross Historical District in New Orleans for some 20 years, this D.C. transplant was accustomed to hurricanes. The artist figured he'd drive maybe 60 miles inland and ride out the storm in a Wal-Mart and return within a few days. Instead, he became a refugee, finally driving to Maryland to stay with his family.

The artist hasn't the funds to return and remains severely traumatized by the experience. Manley is living with his standard poodle in a small trailer behind his brother's home. He has found fulfillment in working with delinquent young men.

"It is a different world. I can forget about everything else," he says.

With his work selling quickly at the gallery, he continues to make artistic strides.

Let us hope art will help the healing process.

"Lest We Forget: Three Perspectives on Hurricane Katrina," a benefit for the Washington Animal Rescue League, is on view at Discovery Too, 7247 Woodmont Ave., Bethesda, through Aug. 29. Hours are 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and noon to 8 p.m. Sunday. An opening reception is planned for Saturday, 7 to 11 p.m. Call 301- 913-9101.

Edward Mancho, employee of Discovery Galleries for the past 12 years, returns from his six week visit to his village in Cameroon, Africa.

Bethesda Gallery goes to the Dogs ? and the Kids

Burning Tree students auction their own art for animal shelter.

by Stephanie Siegel, Staff Writer at The Gazette
Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2007

At just 8 years old, Ethan Sorcher is already a professional artist and philanthropist. With a painting sold and gallery show under his belt, the Burning Tree Elementary School third-grader has generously contributed the money from selling his art to the Washington Animal Rescue League.

"It's pretty cool," Ethan said.

"You've got to get it in perfect shape because people [are] going to buy it," he said of his work.

But Ethan isn't alone. Earlier this month, 90 Burning Tree third-graders participated in a project called Painting for Paws, coordinated by Julie Band, gallery manager at Discovery Gallery in Bethesda, and Scotlund Haisley, executive director of the Washington Animal Rescue League.

For the project, students learned about the Washington Animal Rescue League, which takes care of abused and abandoned animals. Then, they went onto the organization's Web site, picked out one of the pets and painted its portrait. The portraits were then displayed in a show at Discovery Gallery and auctioned. The proceeds - more than $5,000 - were donated to WARL.

"In the 10 years I've been here, this is one of the most rewarding things I've ever done," Band said.

She and Haisley came up with the idea after meeting in the gallery one day, she said. He had come in during an antique poster show looking for a poster with an animal theme. The two began talking and the idea for a benefit began to take shape.

But Band wanted to do more than just a typical gallery charity event, she said.

"In everything I do, I always want to take it to the next level," she said.

From a previous project, Band already knew Burning Tree third-grade teacher Stephanie Hill. She contacted Hill and asked if she wanted to get the students involved.

The project began with a visit to the third grade from Haisley and a dog that had been rescued from Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina.

After that, each student had time to use a computer at school to find and research a pet that they would paint.

Ethan's portrait subject was a dog named Energizer. Students also attached a slip of paper with information and an actual picture of each pet to the back of their canvases.

"It really brought them closer to the animals," Band said. "It was like their own pet they were trying to help out."

The paintings were on display at the gallery for 10 days. Then on Dec. 9 Band held a dog adoption event at Discovery Gallery, where dogs from the shelter were on site for people to meet. That was followed by a reception and auction during which each of the third-graders' paintings were bid on.

"I was really surprised," Band said. "More than 50 percent of the people who bid on these paintings had nothing to do with Burning Tree."

In some cases, parents who wanted to buy their own children's paintings were outbid by others, she said.

"People really loved bidding on these paintings," she said. "There's a kind of innocence to them and in a sense, you're almost adopting the pet yourself."

In addition to the children's paintings, Band had several of the artists represented by the gallery to paint doggy bandanas, which were also auctioned, and she said a percentage of that day's sales at the gallery were donated to WARL. In all, the benefit raised $5,269.

The project was something new for the rescue league, said Jim Monsma, WARL director of communications.

"This was pretty unique,? he said. "We have a lot of kids groups, Boy Scout troops and Girl Scout troops, who want to come in here and do something to help animals, but this was really unique in that it involved art and kids using their creativity."

It was also unusual in the amount of money it raised, he said."They are giving our adult fund raisers some competition,? he said. "They raised a formidable amount of money."

The day was a success for everyone involved, Band said.

"The business benefits because you're getting people in here," she said. "And people are able to spend not a lot of money and they get something back and do something good."

Band and Haisley are currently planning another Painting for Paws project with another school that will take place on Feb. 17 at Discovery Too gallery in Bethesda.

Band hopes that Painting for Paws will become a model project for elementary school students to do something to help animal shelters around the country.

"I thought it would start local," she said, "But I'd really like this to grow."

Monsma agreed.

"It was a wonderful thing for the shelter, for the gallery and for the kids," he said, "but the ultimate beneficiaries are the animals. These animals that we have are totally forgotten by the public and they need all the friends they can get."

Tennet pays tribute to his painter

That was George Tenet at the Discovery Too gallery in Bethesda on Friday night, taking in a show featuring rock fnf roll photographs by Michael Weintrob and rock-themed paintings by Gavin Glakas. So does the ex-CIA chief secretly worship guitar gods in his spare time?

Not exactly. Glakas also painted Tenetfs portrait, which explains his presence.

Click here to view the portrait

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