When local artists founded the Arts Prescott Cooperative Gallery in 1994, giving back to the community was part of their vision. Early on, they established the annual Art Gives Back event, which this year begins the day after Thanksgiving and runs through January 25.
The co-op’s artists — and some non-members from the community — contribute a piece of their artwork to be displayed for sale on the back wall of the gallery. All proceeds from these works benefit a local nonprofit organization.
In alternating years, members choose a nonprofit that supports people or one that raises money for an animal organization. In 2021 the event raised $2,500 for Operation Deep Freeze, which helps shelter local people without homes when temperatures drop below 32 degrees.
This year the event is raising money for the Yavapai Humane Trappers Animal Search and Rescue (yavapaihumanetrappers.org). This nonprofit “searches for the sick, the injured, the lost, and rescues from the heart.”
Volunteers with this group also adopt out the abandoned animals they save and nurse back to health. Sometimes lost animals escape their owners due to an auto accident and run off into a strange neighborhood or the countryside. Some are discarded litters left in the forest, or cases arising from extreme hoarding situations. The organization’s website states that special training and humane techniques are used for capturing these animals and bringing them to safety.
About 30 volunteers also provide foster homes for the rescued animals until they are adopted. The website reports that in 2020 297 dogs, 39 cats and one horse were placed in homes. These animals were vetted and spayed or neutered before placement. “I guess the work that we do caught their eye,” the organization’s founder Katrina Karr said about being designated as the fundraiser recipient. “That’s how we stay alive, through donations and community support.”
The Yavapai Humane Trappers website allows pet owners to create a post for lost animals. They can submit information on location when the pet went missing, the age, breed and markings, whether it is microchipped, if the animal is shy, nervous or aggressive, and the name and address of the veterinarian.
The nonprofit serves all of Yavapai County, with volunteers frequently traveling to the Navajo, Hopi and Apache reservations, and anywhere an animal is in need and there are no other resources available. People also may borrow equipment or offer to foster or adopt an animal.
The 32 members of the co-op are under no obligation to donate any of their work, said Abby Brill, board member and potter. All sales will benefit the Yavapai Humane Trappers. At the end of the event, whatever artwork is not sold is given to the nonprofit to use in future fundraisers.
Selection of the annual nonprofit organization comes from “whomever has an idea,” said Michelle Burres-Veatch, board president, basket weaver and guardian of two rescue Chihuahuas. If several deserving groups are nominated, members will vote on a final choice.
Art Gives Back is a way to offer one’s artistic skills to promote and support charities in the community, and it gives visibility to the nonprofit. And since it occurs around the holidays, it’s a great opportunity for finding one-of-a-kind gifts, Brill said, noting that all purchases from the fundraiser show are tax-free. “You can always buy art, but in this case, you’re accomplishing two things,” she added. “It’s a win-win for everyone.”
Sometimes the artists’ work links to the selected nonprofit. Two years ago the animal organization was a donkey rescue, and a lot of the artwork was donkey-related. Some of the donations for this year’s event include paintings or photographs of dogs, coyotes, pronghorns, mustangs and a roadrunner, in addition to several pieces of jewelry, a quilt and gourd art.
Gourd artist Shelley Fletcher has contributed to the co-op’s fundraisers since becoming a member in 2014. She too has cared for rescue or “semi-rescue” animals over the years.
“Every animal we’ve ever had just landed on us. They find us,” Fletcher said. Sometimes a feral cat in the family’s Laveen neighborhood moves in with them.
Sometimes a friend looks to rehome a pet with her. Helping with these fundraisers feels good, she said. “I’ve been following the Yavapai Trappers on Facebook. Two recent rescues were dogs that got loose after car accidents, one on I-40, one on I-17. They are quite a group,” she said.
Brill, a co-op member for ten years, said the gallery is not set up to make money as a traditional business, but rather for the individual artist members, who share the work of running the gallery. The commissions on sales and space rental fees pay for rent, maintenance and marketing. During the pandemic, the gallery fared better than anyone had expected, and was able to install new carpeting and cover the cost of extra shipping material. A number of new members joined the team.
Burres-Veatch agreed that art patrons have continued to purchase artwork over the past two years. “No one could travel. People felt sorry for themselves. They looked at art and said, ‘I deserve this,’” she said.
Representatives of the animal rescue organization, as well as many of the co-op artists, will be present on the fundraiser’s opening night, November 25, 5-8pm, which falls on Prescott’s 4th Friday Art Walk. Brill said at this time of year the Art Walk is especially festive, with wine, food, live music and shoppers looking for holiday gifts. The Art Gives Back wall will be replenished with new artwork as space allows. Monetary donations to the nonprofit are accepted through January.
Located on Whiskey Row at 134 S. Montezuma St., the Arts Prescott Cooperative Gallery is open daily 10am–6pm, and until 8pm on 4th Friday Art Walks. Visit artsprescott.com for more information.