This past weekend, Vines & Vignettes pulled off their second spectacular event, but one new element really stood out. Midway along the garden path, dubbed “Bark Avenue,” were several fancifully designed doghouses created by area artists. They were all for sale, with proceeds to benefit the Riedel & Cody Fund, a charity that aids pets diagnosed with cancer.
These designer dog houses were the artistic output of Eileen Walsh, Michael Grob, Emily Habansky, Rod Clingman, Allen Wittert, Herm Freeman, Tom Boland, Joe Malfetone, Patricia Warfield, Matthew Preston and Paul Taylor.
Here are some questions for Michelle Margo, executive director of the Riedel & Cody Fund:
Was it difficult to find artists to participate?
Our initial idea for the project was to have architects design the doghouses and have them select a builder. Nobody seemed interested, so we thought local artists might be a good idea as an alternative. The only problem is many of them don’t have interest in building a doghouse or the budget to purchase one, so we had a local carpenter build many of the houses for the artists to paint. Mark Tillinger, co-founder, owns a building on Knowlton Street in Bridgeport where he rents lofts to artists. We approached these artists and 9 of them were very excited to get a doghouse and showcase their own unique style. The other 2 (of 11 doghouses for Bark Avenue) were built by friends of mine, these are the barn and the colonial with pillars in the front.
Were there any rules or guidelines for the artists to follow, or was the sky the limit?
No rules — we told them to do whatever they wanted.
How did visitors at V&V react to the dog houses?
Visitors at Vines & Vignettes loved the doghouses! Whether they were “dog people” or not, everyone agreed that they were unique pieces of art.
Can you tell me a little about yourself?
Here’s my bio from the Riedel & Cody website:
Michelle Margo brings diverse experience to her position as Executive Director. She served in a variety of roles throughout fifteen years of fund marketing for the financial industry. Recently, her focus was on fund-raising for Catholic elementary schools.
Michelle graduated from Salve Regina University in Newport, RI with a BA in English Literature. She currently serves as Chairperson of the Advisory Board for St. Ann School in Bridgeport, CT.
With her lifelong love for animals, Michelle has volunteered for local rescue groups and animal causes. She lives in Connecticut with her two boys and rescue dogs Katie and Snickers.
After spending 15 years in the hedge fund industry, I lost my job when the company I worked for eliminated their entire marketing department due to economic difficulties. I knew Mark Tillinger, through my role as Chairperson for the Advisory Board at St. Ann School, where his wife is the Principal. He contacted me about helping him start his foundation to help those who have a pet with cancer. With a lifelong passion for animal causes and love of dogs, I knew this was an amazing opportunity to create a charity that we hope will change the world of pet