Local Artists Team Up to Save Shelter Dogs
San Angelo’s premiere “paint and sip” venue, The Vino diPinte Art Gallery, recently celebrated its four-year anniversary, and owner Alejandro Castanon is using the gallery’s popularity to make a meaningful impact on the community.
Castanon, a United States Air Force veteran, is no stranger to community service. Shortly after moving to San Angelo, he joined the team at the local independent newspaper Conexion Hispana and immersed himself at multiple volunteer projects, board of directors, and community outreach programs. The man clearly has a passion for helping those in need and, coupled with his passion for creating beautiful artwork, he combines his two loves to help area non-profit and charitable organizations. Castanon believes that while it’s important for businesses to give back, it shouldn’t necessarily be done for the sole purpose of advertising or reaping the benefits.
“Obviously, when you give back to the community, it helps your business; however, businesses shouldn’t approach charity in that spirit…When you give from a place [of charity], it definitely comes back to you, but in a completely different way,” he said.
It is that belief that inspired Castanon and Vino diPinte’s Creative Director, Crystal Goodman, to start a program called “Canvas Karma” where the gallery works with local organizations to help them fundraise. Castanon and Goodman allow organizations to book the gallery for one of their “paint and sip” events and along with donating the space, also donate half of the total proceeds to the organization they have partnered with. Castanon is always looking what he calls “out of the box” ideas to help charitable organizations, so when Concho Valley PAWS approached him for a benefit, he couldn’t say no.
Concho Valley PAWS is a rescue organization whose mission is dedicated to saving homeless animals from euthanasia, finding loving homes for adoptable pets, and encouraging the public to spay and neuter their pets. PAWS has been working closely with the San Angelo Animal Shelter to showcase animals who have an urgent need to be adopted or could face euthanasia, and volunteers from both the shelter and PAWS has been working diligently to bring these animals into the hearts of the public by conducting adoption events throughout the city. Together with Castanon, Goodman and the Vino diPinte Gallery, they teamed up to put on the first ever “Pawcasso” art show and adoption event.
Saturday afternoon, volunteers from PAWS, Goodfellow Air Force Base, and Central Freshman Campus stood outside Vino diPinte clutching the leashes of 30 shelter dogs as potential adopters loved on the animals. In addition to the adoption event, PAWS also had a microchip booth and invited the public to have their pets microchipped for $12.99. Castanon also offered a paint and sip class on Saturday evening where animal lovers signed up to paint a portrait of a cat as a part of his Canvas Karma program. Half of the profits made from Saturday night also went to PAWS.
Sara Cearsy, a volunteer with PAWS, shared her gratitude for businesses owners like Castanon, but also said that events like this would be impossible without their phenomenal volunteers.
“The guys from Goodfellow are always so reliable and we love working with them,” she said.
This was also the second event for CFC’s Student Council, and Cearsy was extremely impressed with the student’s maturity and willingness to do whatever necessary to make the event successful.
“The students are awesome! They are learning so much about the animals, and they are amazing about doing what needs to be done without being asked.”
CFC teachers Lindsey Meeks and Kelcey Hererra are sponsoring student council this year, and both of them agreed that volunteering with PAWS has been beneficial for everyone involved.
"It's been especially great for the kids," Hererra said.
Along with the microchipping and adoption event, Castanon displayed work from local artists that were available for patrons and animal lovers to purchase, and artists were able to donate a portion of their commission back to PAWS. Castanon himself painted several pieces for the event and was planning to donate some of his commission to PAWS as well. Normally, Vino diPinte charges artists who display their work in the gallery a small commission off of their sales; however, for Pawcasso, Castanon waved the fee in the hopes that the artist would choose to give back to PAWS.
All in all, Pawcasso turned out to be a great success. According to the PAWS Facebook page, twenty of the thirty dogs were adopted, and because they were able to alleviate space at the shelter, the remaining dogs have more time left before they are euthanized. However, they still have limited time, and the organization is asking for volunteers to consider fostering these animals or for families to consider adopting. Fostering is free, and interested volunteers can pick up an application form at the PAWS location in Sunset Mall. You can also visit their website at www.conchovalleypaws.org and “like” their Facebook page.