Linda Evans and the Art of Aid
By Sandra Stillman Gartner
A few years ago, The Brandon Artists’ Guild of Vermont sent out a call to their members. The annual fundraiser theme for the year was “It’s Reigning Cats and Dogs”. Artist Linda Evans, a member of the guild and a proud owner of two Greyhounds, headed to the drawing board. She created an art deco picture in colored pencils that incorporated Greyhounds into the theme. The dogs were present but imbedded within the drawing.
Judy McGovern, who is the head of Greyhound Pets of America in Louisiana, has a summer home at Lake Dunmore, not far from the Brandon Artists’ Guild. She was so enthralled with Linda’s picture, that she bought the original off the wall of the gallery. With ten Greyhounds of her own, Judy was an avid dog lover like Linda and her husband Ron. She had the couple over for tea and the three of them became close friends.
McGovern said to Linda, “I love your work. If you ever do any more paintings of Greyhounds, I’ll buy the original piece”. This was the impetus that sent Evans on the road to create more Greyhound designs. McGovern continued to be an avid fan of Evans and over the years has collected numerous pictures. Evans scans the original piece into her computer before it moves to McGovern’s walls, so she can make prints for other interested art collectors.
“My two passions are Greyhounds and my art. I’m very fortunate to meld both passions together into a distinct art form,” Evans said. She has been doing art since she was three years old. The artist holds an undergraduate degree from Southern Connecticut State University in printmaking and design and was accepted into the Yale graduate studies in design.
Her mentors and lifelong influences include Anna Held Audette, famed artist and daughter of American art historian Julius Held. Another friend and mentor is David Flaharty, one of the country’s foremost ornamental plasterers. His work is in the White House in Washington, D.C. and the American Wing of the Metropolitan Museum in NYC.
Once Linda and Ron made the decision to drive south for the winter from Vermont, she checked out the calendar of Greyhound adoption events along the eastern seaboard. It was her intent to use her work to draw attention to the plight of Greyhounds as well as raise money for the national Greyhound rescue organization. Evans loaded up the car with clothes, paintings and their two dogs, Leland and Emilee, snuggled in the back.
During the road trip to Florida, Linda and Ron have been privy to many stories from dog owners who attend the events where her “dog art” prints are sold. One woman lost her “heart dog” after 12 years of companionship and decided to visit the Red Rocks of Utah and hike as a way to help ease the loss. When the woman saw Linda’s piece titled “Moving Mountains” she bought it in remembrance of her pet and the healing journey she had taken out west.
Evans work doesn’t feature portraits of dogs, but focuses on architecturally structured designs that capture the anatomy and elegant form of the animal. To create her prints, Evans works with pencil, ink and colored pencils. Some prints capture the playfulness of the Greyhounds, like one titled “Inky” that shows a dog at play. Others feature botanical gardens, moving mountains, the four seasons and both visible and hidden dogs. Greyhound art appeals not only to owners of the magnificent breed but to the general public as well.
The Greyhound events are held both in formal hotels and on park grounds. There, Evans joins a group of vendors who have decided to donate a portion of their earnings to the Greyhound adoption group. Last season, Ron and Linda made a stop at Jekyll Island in Georgia where both owners and dogs literally gathered together. Evans said, “The Greyhounds don’t bark or sniff like many other breeds. Basically, the dogs just hang out with each other and they can sleep anywhere. It was quite a sight to see them at rest both in the hotel and on the lawn. They looked so regal”.
Another popular event is held Columbus Day weekend at Dewey Beach in Delaware, where thousands of dogs and their owners are present. There can be upwards of 50 vendors at an event of this size. Evans also donates pieces of her artwork for both live and on-line auctions. “It’s crucial that we continue to support the adoption of Greyhounds”, she said. “Racetracks in the Northern tier are closing down at a fast rate and sometimes as many as 300 dogs need to be placed in homes at the same time”.
Evans had the privilege of meeting Kent Roberts, a well-known Greyhound illustrator at one of these festivals. She was thrilled when Roberts purchased one of her prints for a “special occasion” gift. In addition to raising money for Greyhound adoptions, this is a time for owners to meet with like-minded people, listen to national speakers and have the “sheer enjoyment” of being in a place where their dogs are highly appreciated.
Back home in Vermont, in addition to her own artwork, Evans runs classes for groups who are interested in creating their own pieces called “By My Own Design”. At the end of a two-hour class, each participant goes home with a finished, framed piece of art. A portion of the tuition fee for these classes also goes to Greyhound adoption centers. The money that is raised for the Greyhound adoption centers is used for many purposes such as medical care, food, transportation, kennels and foster homes.
“Whether it is classroom of children or a small group of adults, the chemistry is the same. We are all challenged to make our ideas materialize into a visually satisfying expression within an environment of exploration,” she said. “When I began to market my Greyhound art, the teacher in me wanted to find a way to guide others who were interested in making their own visual work which displays the love we have for these special dogs”.
Another area where Evans uses her artwork to help out is through the Rutland Regional Medical Center in Vermont where she works with cancer patients. She offers four-week workshops to give patients a chance to utilize art as therapy. Evans is open to providing classes for different groups and is willing to do the workshops in her studio or off-site.
“As an artist, I’ve been aware that we don’t create in a vacuum. Inspiration takes many forms. Sometimes the best ideas come from when one is working with others engaged in the creative process. That is why I love to teach,” Evans said. “The opportunity to guide others in their own voice is a rare privilege, and for myself, the best art of all”.
Besides selling her art on the road, a couple represents Evans art from their home in Winter Park, Florida. They can be reached at www.Greytart.com. Evans also sells work on her own. Interested collectors or those interested in setting up a workshop, can contact her at: artontheriverstudioyahoo.com or call: (802) 773-8277.
Biography of Sandra Stillman Gartner
A former editorial assistant at Glamour magazine, Ms. Gartner’s writing has been published in such periodicals as Lady’s Circle, The Monitor, Vermont Magazine and Rutland Magazine. Several of her screenplays and poems have been published in regional and national anthologies. In Fall 2009, the book “To Life! A Celebration of Vermont Jewish Women” was published by Shires Press to accompany the DAVAR exhibit (presented by the Vermont Jewish Women’s History Project). She is one of three producing directors of Vermont Actors’ Repertory Theatre and serves on the board of the Vermont Film Commission. Ms. Gartner performs on stage, television and in film.