Written by Jill Nossa Friday, 20 December 2013 00:00
If you’ve ever thought about immortalizing your pet with a high quality portrait, Yvonne Dagger is the artist to go to. The animal lover/activist has a knack for capturing the essence of each animal she paints, and her work is on display at The Painted Pet, the gallery that recently opened in Locust Valley. The portraits on display are mainly of at-risk shelter animals who Dagger felt “needed a voice” and decided to keep their stories alive and relevant through the oil paintings.
“I wanted to elevate them to a status of fine art, give them a chance to have something better, even if it’s just to be in a painting.”
Dagger has done work with rescue animals and is involved in the Canine Companions for Independence program. She works out of her home studio in Massapequa; a professional artist with galleries in beach communities, her skill was mainly focused on landscapes and beach scenes. It wasn’t until her beagle, Melvin, died about 10 years ago--from cancer, at the age of 7--that she began painting animals.
“It started as my way of expressing my grief,” she says.
Soon after, during her work as a volunteer, she began photographing shelter animals and painting the portraits of those up for adoption; she would then follow up at the shelters to see where they ended up.
“The conditions are so bad at some of the shelters,” she says. “I was told that they had been adopted but later found out they had been euthanized. Their eyes told a story of hope and my heart just broke for them.”
Dagger’s work has caught the attention of Martha Stewart, whose producer reached out and now features the shelter dogs and cats on her website. Ellen DeGeneres has also featured the painter’s work on her television show.
She does this to raise awareness and also for accountability. “It’s my way to contribute”
Her greater vision is to have them all on display in a museum, but is quite happy with the gallery space for now. Another aspect of the business is that pet owners can commission a painting of their beloved pets for very reasonable prices. She works off of photographs, though she does says it’s “an added bonus” if she can meet the pet to get a sense of its personality.
The Painted Pet is part of the expanded Scoopy Doo Plaza at 177 Forest Ave., adjacent to the waste removal business. Scoopy Doo owner Jim Coniglione says he is thrilled to have Dagger on board and has already referred many of his clients to her. “It’s a unique gift; it’s great to have Yvonne around to do a commission.”
They met a few months ago and it all came together. Dagger was at the Art Walk in Oyster Bay several months ago, where she met Coniglione’s assistant. He was looking to expand and thought she would be good a fit; soon, it all came together.
Working together opens up plenty of possibilities. She hopes to continue her work painting shelter animals, and Coniglione has been a strong advocate of animal cruelty laws. Dagger also works with guide dogs for wounded veterans. The two plan to collaborate on charitable works, and Coniglione says he’ll offer waste removal services as part of the effort.
About the gallery, Dagger says, “It’s another dream come true.”
To learn more or contact the artist visit www.yvonnedaggerartist.com.