As far as cats go, Furdinand is quite unique. He has jade-green fur and wide blue eyes. He dresses flamboyantly in a smart red velvet coat, dangly collar and elegant feathered top hat.
While he doesn’t move much, Furdinand is looking for a new home. He’s one of 31 whimsical pet sculptures created for an art auction benefitting Grand County Pet Pals, a local nonprofit that raises money to spay and neuter shelter pets and provide pet adoption education.
The animal art sculptures were sent out to about 25 Grand County artists as blank canvases. The artists painted and embellished the animals, giving them names and colorful biographies. The sculptures will be available for auction from Aug. 3- Sept. 15, with all proceeds benefitting local shelter animals.
“We just wanted to do something that was different, and blended pets with art,” said Suzie Royce Cruse, who owns the WP Framewerx framing shop and gallery in downtown Winter Park. Royce Cruse has also worked with Grand County Pet Pals for about eight years.
The pet sculptures are available for viewing and bidding online (). The auction will culminate at the non-profit’s annual Bowwowmeowpowwow & Chow event on Sept. 15 at Wild Horse Inn, marking Pet Pal’s 20th anniversary in Grand County. The auction replaces the popular Doggie Drag event, which will return next year.
Furdinand counts among his papier-mâché pals “Fraser the Colorado Cat,” decorated with the blue stripes and red “C” with enclosed golden disc, characteristic of the state flag. Or there’s “Poppy the garden angel,” a winged pup painted with colorful flowers. And there’s “Hobie-Wan,” a dready Rasta-dog with love beads, shades and a coat made of a repurposed jute rug.
Recycled materials are an important part of the sculptures’ creation. Royce Cruse hand-built the animal blanks before they went to local artists. She created a special non-toxic papier-mâché material that incorporated recycled materials like newspaper, shopping bags and packing peanuts.
“It took me about 10 recipes to get the best one, but everything’s recycled,” she said. “That’s what I push in my shop and my life.”
All of the Pet Pals sculptures were painted and customized by Grand County residents. “A lot of them are just my friends who I know are artists, but don’t sell stuff anywhere,” she said. “Most of them are business owners.”
The sculptures range in height from 6 inches to 2 feet. Bidding starts at $12 to $150, depending on sculpture size.
Art enthusiasts and animal lovers can view the sculptures and their colorful biographies through the Pet Pals auction site. Some of the works will also be on display at local businesses. The sculptures will be available to view together one final time at the Bowwowmeowpowwow & Chow event before they’re handed off to the winning bidders.
“They’re all pretty much ready to go, waiting for their new owners,” Royce Cruse said.