Barking at Art in Minneapolis

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April Mueller, the creative manager and package designer at Illume Candle Company, spent the last six months putting together a fund raising event for the Pet Project, a non-profit organization that works to help people by helping them keep their pets. Mueller had been a Pet Project volunteer for about two years, helping raise funds for the organization’s main focus, collecting dog food and supplies to donate to local food shelves. But when she found out about the Pet Project’s newest mission, helping people in crisis get free veterinary care for their pets, she decided to help.

Mueller teamed up with fellow designer, Emily Mavridoglou, and taking advantage of their connections with local artists and designers, the two began to put together a fundraisers which they called, Bark at Art. The idea for the Bark at Art was borrowed from Art Crank, an organization of bicyclists and art enthusiasts that raises money for local charities.

For Bark at Art, local artists created original dog-themed limited edition posters to sell at the event. Dog centered businesses, including the Barkery, a dog treat bakery and Hang It, a framing shop and gallery where the event was held, were there and donated most of their proceeds to The Pet Project. Also on hand and available for consultations was Ilga Cimbuli, a well-known local animal communicator.

Mueller and Mavidoglou said they’d been working out the details for months, moving from the preparation stage to the real work last February. The Bark at Art gallery opening reception, was held August 19 at Gallery 122 in SE Minneapolis. So far, the Bark at Art fundraiser has brought in nearly $1,200 from poster sales and another $727 from raffle sales and cash donations. Nearly 200 lb. of pet food as well as leashes, collars and a dog bed were also collected at the event.

“The Art Crank events have been going on quite a few years in Minneapolis, raising money for organizations like Toys for Tots. It’s not an original idea, but it works,” Mueller said.  The idea of an art event, she said, seemed like an ideal way to raise money for Pet Project’s veterinarian committee.

“When we decided we wanted to do this, we needed a venue,” said Mueller. “We wanted a place to be smaller since it’s just the two of us planning this. We’d have fewer designers in a smaller space. We made a list of places but in the end, only looked at Gallery 122. Stephanie, who works at the gallery, was go great. They allowed it to be pet friendly and the space was great because there’s an outdoor area attached.”

Mueller got lists of supportive artists who she thought might be interested in donating their work to help the dogs, including one from Art Crank and another of designers who had participated in one of Aveda’s fund raising events.  She asked everyone she contacted to forward the information to other animal lovers they knew. “We got a lot of response. Pretty much everyone we asked wanted to help,” she said.

On the evening of the event, the gallery quickly filled with people and their dogs. Mueller’s dog, Emily attended. One of the poster artists, Jordan Smith, brought her 6-year old mini dachshund Etta to pose by the poster she had inspired. Etta was soon joined other dogs, from shih tzus to St. Bernards, who wandered with their owners around the gallery. People ambled through the gallery admiring the posters and sipping wine, then proceed outside to talk with the animal communicator, browse the fancy dog good tables and collect samples of dog food and dog treats.    

“I think the most exciting part is being at the opening and seeing the reaction to the posters,” Mueller said. “I know how much of yourself goes into these works, and with animals, there this deeper connection. It’s good, knowing that the money is going to the vet committee of the Pet Project.” Bark at Art runs until September 10, at Gallery 122. Posters will be available for purchase as long as supplies last, with the proceeds going to help people who need assistance affording veterinary care for their animals.