Monday, November 20, 2006

The Animal Tree of Life

LA Animal Services will soon be unveiling a stunningly unique sculpture called "The Animal Tree of Life". This sculture came about because of René Baker’s love of animals. When she heard that the West Valley Animal Care Center was seeking an artist to create a work of art for the renovated and partially new shelter, she sought out her sculpture mentor, Robert Cunningham. Cunningham is a well-known sculptor of public projects so, as a team, they were pre-qualified for the first phase in the selection of artists.

When they received notice inviting a proposal, they discussed many possibilities, including interior art. They decided, however, the best solution would be a symbolic work that would have enough physical stature to stand as an identifying symbol of the West Valley Shelter. Their proposal was accepted.

The Animal Tree evolved from totem-pole-like forms to trees covered in animals to the animals themselves forming the Tree of Life. Some of René’s own pets, including a Pygmy goat and a Senegal parrot were models for the life-sized animals making up the sculpture.

The project took about fourteen months from start to completion. There are eight mammals, two reptiles and nineteen birds. All the sculpting, mold-making and casting was created and carried out at Robert and René’s studio in the high desert area, between San Bernardino and Victorville.

The Animal Tree of Life projects an image to the public of uplifted and spirited animals, free from torture, hunger and loneliness. The sculpture is approximately 5 ft. x 6 ft., at the base, and 12 ft. high. Domestic and exotic animals, pets and wildlife, all those that might find their way to LA Animal Services, comprise the Tree of Life. Small and midsized animals form the base, with a large pony, two dogs and a cat forming the trunk of the tree. A Golden eagle stands at the top, supporting the tree’s canopy of birds of many types. The canopy crowns the sculpture in a swirl of avian flight.

The artist wanted to create contours and a pleasing harmony of shapes and forms against the new facility’s roofline. The sculpture’s organic imagery creates a contrast to the adjacent straight lines of concrete and asphalt—a symbol of what the Animal Care Center is all about: the healing and rescue of many animals from the sometimes harsh realities of life.

The sculpture is bronze and weighs more than 2,000 pounds. Its maintenance will be minimal. In summary, the artist wants to motivate and inspire the public to do their best for animalkind.

To view this beautiful work of art click here and then scroll to the bottom:

On behalf of all Animal Services, we wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving! I want to personally thank all our employees, volunteers, partners, the Mayor and City Council, and the public for your support of Animal Services' efforts to once and for all end euthanasia to control pet overpopulation. Together we are making LA the safest City in the United States for our pets!

Happy Thanksgiving!