Bernson's Corner: Man paints portraits of doomed dogs... - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Bernson's Corner: Man paints portraits of doomed dogs...

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- These tubes of paint and brushes are tools for saving lives. Artist Mark Barone has committed one entire year of his life... to saving those other lives: those of stray animals through painting portraits of doomed dogs. 5,500 portraits: the number destroyed in shelters in the United States every day.

"You can see in their eyes, with all of them, they know they're dying. Every one of these pictures, because it was taken usually the day before, or the day of, that they killed them," said Barone.

Barone, whose family has owned dogs all his life, finds the photos on an Internet Web site that tracks Death Row for dogs. Then the images are transferred and enlarged... so Barone can begin painting them. The project is entitled "An Act of Dog."

"And I don't think people can really wrap their minds around 5,500 a day. They just dismiss it, it's not a very high number. The reason for doing this show is to put faces with that 5,500...You know, what I don't want it to be is a production line. Because then, it has no feeling in the paintings or anything like that. It gives me a sense to connect, at least, with the dog," said Barone.

Here's a sketch Mark did from a photograph he took off the Web site. There are hundreds of them on this table. When he's all done with the project, the paintings will hang ten feet high and be as long as two football fields.

Barone and his partner, Marina Dervan, estimate it will take another nine months to finish the gigantic display.

"We've actually got 11, I think it's 11 or 12 cities we're talking to right now, to house it, so they'll provide the space, and we'll build a museum...You know, you could imagine standing in a room with 5,500 paintings of dogs that have been killed. It becomes more real," said Barone.

There isn't a city or town that doesn't face the challenge of what to do with too many stray dogs and cats. It's not that "An Act of Dog" will end the problem and magically turn America into a no-kill nation. But no one can deny it's an act that makes us think: capturing our attention with an act of courage, conscience and compassion.

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