by Abby Brill
Prescott has a lot of businesses that make an effort to give back to the community. One such is the Arts Prescott Cooperative Gallery.
Every month throughout the year the gallery features a guest artist, hosting a reception for them at the 4th Friday ArtWalk. It’s a way of bringing attention to a local artist who is not a member of the gallery, but deserves a month-long spotlight on their work. But every December Arts Prescott holds a fundraiser show, beginning on the fourth Friday after Thanksgiving, to benefit a local nonprofit organization.
Unlike most galleries, Arts Prescott is a cooperative, so members bring suggestions for potential beneficiaries to the October meeting, where the group decides which organization it will feature. Usually the beneficiary is an animal-related organization one year, then a service-oriented organization the next. Past fundraisers have helped groups like The Launchpad, Horses with Heart and, last year, BeneVet. Each artist member of the gallery donates a piece for the show, and all the proceeds go to this designated organization. Artists outside the gallery membership are also invited to donate.
As this year's beneficiary of its holiday fundraiser the Arts Prescott gallery has chosen the equine rescue group Now That I’m Safe (NTIS), founded and run by Mitzi Conn of Chino Valley.
Several years ago Conn learned about auctions for horses and donkeys whose owners had either died or could no longer care for them. Most buyers of these animals take them not to loving homes, but to kill pens in Oklahoma and Texas, where they are then sold to slaughterhouses in Mexico. Appalled by this, she set about purchasing a small number of these animals and bringing them back to Chino Valley, with the intention of finding them the homes they deserved. From there it grew, and now over 120 equine orphans have found their forever homes with her help.
Now That I’m Safe is a 501(c)3 nonprofit, housing and caring for 20-25 animals at a time at the Chino Valley site. The group handles all equine orphans, including mini-donkeys, with whom all visitors tend to instantly fall in love. Most adoptees are donkeys and mini-donkeys, and the rest are ponies and horses. Most are rescued from auctions or kill pens.
Once selected, the animals go through a 30-day quarantine, and get complete health checks and treatment for any medical condition. When animals are ready for adoption, potential new owners are carefully screened.
Adoption fees range between $500 and $800, and can be spread out into multiple payments. As in other animal shelters, sometimes the animal chooses the human. One story Conn likes to share is about a family who had adopted two children, one of them blind, and wanted to adopt a pony for them. During the afternoon the family spent visiting the site and looking for a pony, one little donkey kept following them around, apparently having adopted them. They took the donkey home, and it's now a lovely companion for their blind daughter. She puts her hand on its back and they walk all over their ten-acre property quite safely, a happy ending to what might have ended tragically for the donkey.
Acquiring animals from kill pens, transporting them and providing veterinary care for them is a pricey undertaking, and the adoption fees NTIS charges cover only about half of the actual costs, so the organization has to count on donations to cover the deficit. Monetary donations are tax-deductible. There are opportunities to volunteer on site, including grooming and cleaning stalls, but visitors are also welcome to just come and visit with the rescued animals. It is worth the visit to just meet Mitzi and hear her speak of her rescues with such love, describing each in detail.
When planning a visit, make sure to remember to take some carrots or apples to share.
The holiday fundraiser at the Arts Prescott Cooperative Gallery kicks off on Black Friday, November 27, with an opening reception 5-8pm, during Prescott’s Fourth Friday Art Walk. All proceeds from show sales will go to Now That I’m Safe Equine Rescue. The show runs thru Dec. 29. The co-op's 28 artist members and outside artists have all donated artwork. There will be many more pieces in the show than the small number we can cover here.
“Rocket” by Marjorie Claus is an image of an actual rescued miniature horse (though not one from NTIS). Marjorie works in mixed media using batik, printmaking, painting, and digital collage to create her images. A longtime member of the gallery, she grew up around horses and they remain a favorite theme. To Marjorie, horses represent freedom, friendship, trust, love and respect, and she strives to communicate these qualities in her work.
Dale Maas, a valued member of the gallery for several years, has spent much time traveling around the West photographing wild mustangs. A passionate advocate for the protection of wild horses, Dale has visited herds here in Arizona, in the eastern Sierras, Idaho and Colorado, packing up his pickup and camping in the back country for days at a time, trekking cross-country to find his roaming subjects at the right moments in just the right light. Dale is one of many horse-lovers among the Arts Prescott members.
Known and well loved for her whimsical jewelry, Susie Straussner says she had fun making the pendant for the this year's fundraiser. Not all artists can incorporate specific subject matter into their work, but Susie formed her piece to incorporate an image of Tom Mix’s hat. No two pieces of Susie’s work are the same, and she always includes a brief comment to display with her pieces, often humorous and relating her thoughts about the piece.
Ann Ramsey of Cedar Creek Designs has been sewing and quilting all her life. Her contribution to the fundraiser is a collection of horse-themed items, including a quilted tote bag, a journal with a hand-sewn cover, a matching bookmark, a bottle of wine and a copy of the book This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger.
Leslie Parsons, maker of the pendant “Moon Craters with Amethyst,” works in silver and other metals, using coloring agents such as patination and enamels to develop her original designs for women. Her work communicates that less is more and that the simplicity of good design can stand on its own merits. The pendants and earrings she creates are simple in design but bold in gesture, and draw the eye beautifully when worn against quiet, monochromatic clothing.
The holiday fundraiser is Arts Prescott’s way of giving back to the community, and invites everyone to the opening reception, 5-8pm on Friday November 27, in the gallery at 134 S. Montezuma St. For more about Now That I’m Safe Equine Rescue or to donate, visit NowThatImSafe.com or ArtsPrescott.com, where all donated art pieces can be viewed online.
Abby Brill is a longtime Arts Prescott member and Associate Editor of 5enses.