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Visual Arts

Powder Hounds Art Auction helps La Plata County Humane Society

Local artists turn repurposed snowboards into art

Last year, local artists stepped up to help the animals of the La Plata County Humane Society with the Powder Hounds Art Auction, using donated snowboards as their canvas.

It was such a success, the event is back for a second year, this time featuring 20 boards made by 20 artists. The auction will be held primarily online Friday (Jan. 3) through Feb. 2, and this year, there will also be an opening reception at Animas Chocolate and Coffee Co., where patrons can see the pieces in person, meet all the artists and bid on their favorite snowboard. Also new this year is the “buy it now” option for those who aren’t big fans of participating in an auction.

“Down the Rabbit Hole” is a piece by artist Wendy Niziol.

Last year, the event raised a little more than $5,000, said Emily Phillips, marketing and development coordinator at the Humane Society, “which was really exciting because that was our first year, so we knew we had something special. Once the final bidding came in, we were really just astounded and couldn’t believe the generosity and support of everybody who bid and who purchased these boards.”

The idea for the auction came from Wendy Niziol and her partner, Ray Phillips. The two moved to the Durango area about three years ago. It was a trip to donate items to the Humane Society’s thrift store that put the Powder Hounds plan into motion.

“We’re both huge animal lovers, and while we were there, we just played with the dogs out in their little play yard and it was so much fun,” Niziol said. “We gave all the animals in the kennel little treats and it was just so inspiring to see everything they’re doing there and the people are so compassionate and they’re so into what they do that we were just inspired to do more, so that’s where the idea came from.”

The two are also art collectors and bought seven skateboards by seven different artists about 10 years ago at a show in Houston.

“Yup, Steve & Betty” is a mixed-media piece by artist Ray Phillips.

“That was where we thought, ‘What could we do? We do art, and how can that help the animals? And so we were looking at the skateboards and we thought, ‘Well, what if we did snowboards?’ And we thought, ‘You know there’s only so much two artists can do – Ray does a snowboard and I do a snowboard – it’s very limited. So we thought, ‘Why don’t we reach out to the art community and see if we could drum up a few other artists.’”

The arts community did indeed offer up its services, and so did local businesses that will display the pieces.

And the neat thing about the snowboards is that not only are they cool pieces of art, they are repurposed as well – all the boards were donated through the thrift store, primed and given to participating artists, who had two months to finish their piece, Emily Phillips said.

It’s a really neat thing to get artists involved because all these artists are so thrilled and happy to be a part of giving back to these animals,” she said. “It’s a really neat thing, and the generosity of their talent and time, because they’re donating their talent, their time, they’re purchasing all their supplies.”

Money raised from the auction will go toward the life-saving services the Humane Society provides all the approximately 2,500 animals that come into their care per year, including spay/neuter, microchipping, vaccinations, medical and behavioral rehabilitation before they are adopted, Phillips said.

Artist Jeremy Crotty will have a piece up for bid in the Powder Hounds Art Auction.

“We had no idea if this would be successful for not, so part of what we wanted to do was just create some community awareness around the Humane Society. And also art. Those are our two favorite things in life and we just wanted to combine them and see what it would do to help the animals and to help the artists,” Niziol said. We’re trying to get some exposure for local artists and then also raise money for the animals that need it.”


If you go


La Plata County Humane Society’s second annual Powder Hounds Art Auction opening event. Online auction will run through Feb. 3.


5 to 7 p.m. Jan. 10.


Animas Chocolate & Coffee Co., 920 Main Ave.

More information:

View all 20 unique snowboards and meet the artists who have donated their time and talent in creating each board. Enjoy light appetizers, a cash bar and chocolate. Robert Webster will also perform live music during the event. Place bids or “buy it now” with set pricing during the event. 100% of the proceeds benefit the homeless animals of La Plata County.

Exhibit locations Jan. 13– Feb. 2:

Art Supply House, 24 Town Plaza, Unit B.

Durango Harley-Davidson, 750 South Camino del Rio.

Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, 479 Main Ave.

Hermosa Coffee Co., 738 Main Ave.

La Plata County Humane Society, 1111 South Camino del Rio.

Pet Haus, 1444 Main Ave.

Pop Sushi, 42 County Road 250, No. 400.

Purgatory Sports, 2615 Main Ave.

Riverview Animal Hospital, 670 South Camino del Rio.

Rusty Shovel Saloon, 760 South Camino del Rio.

Ska Brewing Co., 225 Girard St.

Ski Barn, 3533 Main Ave.

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