Stray Hearts’ annual Calabash Bash fundraiser

Acclaimed painter Ed Sandoval donates $8,000 puppy painting for Stray Hearts raffle


By Yvonne Pesquera

Tempo caught up with artist Ed Sandoval as he worked outdoors at his famous gallery easel on the crossroads off Taos Plaza. We asked him about “Puppy Rescue in Taos,” an $8,000 painting he has donated for a Stray Hearts Animal Shelter fundraiser.

“I did ‘Puppy Rescue’ with the intention of somehow trying to raise money for Stray Hearts,” he said.

For a $20 raffle ticket, you can be entered to win this original painting (36-by-36 inches, oil on canvas) at Stray Hearts’ third annual Calabash Bash fundraiser. The event is Friday (Dec. 8) from 5-8 p.m. at El Monte Sagrado Resort, 317 Kit Carson Road. Admission at the door is $25 and includes hors d’oeuvres. There will be a cash bar.

At El Monte Sagrado, Sandoval has a ballroom (“The Sandoval Room”), piano room and hallway gallery dedicated entirely to displaying his highly sought-after work.

He explained that the inspiration for the puppy painting came from his friend Pat Wilson who helps at the shelter. Wilson showed Sandoval a photo of three little puppies in a bucket. “I was like ‘Wow, that’s interesting. I’d like to do a painting of my iconic figure, El Viejito, with the puppies,” Sandoval said. “El Viejito is saving the puppies.”

Sandoval’s work is well-known on an international scale, with coverage in numerous publications as well as “The Travel Channel.” In 2012, Sandoval received the prestigious Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts. President Barack Obama chose one of Sandoval’s paintings to adorn his official thank you cards for New Mexico.

“Puppy Rescue,” like all of Sandoval’s paintings, was painted outside under his signature blue umbrella with rock music pumping from the speakers. “I used to have dogs. Now I have horses. I will be at the Calabash Bash. Please buy a raffle ticket to help support the animal shelter. One hundred percent goes to them, not to me,” he said.

Barbara Ann Downs-VanCalsen serves as board president for Stray Hearts and is the chairperson for this year’s bash. “El Monte has been very generous,” she said. “This will be a festive, glamorous event.”

Sandoval’s “Puppy Rescue” painting will be on display in the round room with the grand piano. “All of the paintings in there are Ed’s,” said Downs-VanCalsen.

She explained that the main room will be set up with round tables displaying art gourds for sale. One long table will have about 10 gourds –– and these will be reserved for the live auction. Approximately 70 artists are participating this year.

Some artists choose to paint on the calabaza (the gourd or pumpkin), while others apply materials to the gourds. And yet others absolutely transform the fruit into an expression of their imagination. Based on previous years, the creativity of the artists working with the gourds is boundless.

Downs-VanCalsen said, “This is a major fundraiser for us. The fact is every lost or abandoned animal ends up here because Animal Control brings them here. Our goal is to have the animal achieve good health while they are in our care and get spayed/neutered. Sometimes they need socialization. Our goal is to find them a home where they can thrive and have a good life. We have an old facility but it’s state-of-the-art in how it’s cared for. We have a fantastic staff, great group of volunteers, and we are a working board.”

For more information, call (575) 758-2981.