...Boo Boo bear...a Cinderella story...

"Boo Boo" watercolor and colored pencil-- a work in progress....

This painting will be my submission to the Animalscapes of the Sierra Nevada Foothills show. This art event aims to raise awareness and advocate for the many agencies that protect our animal communities. The show opens in Calaveras County at Ironstone Vineyards, with a reception on January 16 from 3 to 5 pm. This is a travelling show, more details to follow: http://www.calaverasarts.org/AnimalScapesExhibitinformation.html

Boo Boo's story is a sad one. He was taken from his mother at the tender age of two weeks and sold to a couple in Ohio as a pet for their young daughter. The family soon learned that baby bears are not cute and cuddley, that they scratch and bite. So they put a chain around his neck, padlocked it, tied him to a tree, and lost the key. When Boo Boo was finally rescued from this dire circumstance, his chain collar had to be surgically removed from his neck, it was slowly choking him to death. You may see more of Boo Boo's story here: http://www.pawsweb.org/meet_bears.html.

I met Boo Boo, and heard his story on a warm October morning. Director Ed Stewart met our group of artists at the front gate of the PAWS Sanctuary in San Andreas and we packed into vans to drive the short distance into the property. I thought I knew what to expect. I was excited to visit the sanctuary and take reference photos for the Animalscapes travelling art show that I was participating in, I had looked at the PAWS Sancuary website, and read about the animals.

When the SUV I was riding in pulled up to the bear habitat, we received safety instructions. Ed began to talk about PAWS, why it existed, and told about the committment of Pat Darby. He told us about the bears living here, how they were fed and cared for, and told the stories of each one. Horror stories. Stories of neglect and abuse. Stories of people who kept and bred animals for profit, and animals that were left to die when their usefulness ran out. I had heard these kinds of stories of course, but I hadn't fully grasped the reality of the situation, until Ed Stewart spoke about them. His stories broke my heart and I was trying to photograph these beautiful creatures through tears.

The animals at PAWS were obviousy extremely well cared for and loved by their volunteers. The committment and generosity of this group is overwhelming, and the visit literally changed my life...

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