Top photo by Steve Shay, Bottom photo by Nickelsville resident Diane
UPDATE: EVENT IS THIS WEEKEND- Pictured top, David Walega (and his dog Rocket) of West Seattle will host “A Day in the Life; Photographs by Homeless Youth of their Animals”, Saturday & Sunday, Dec. 1 & 2, noon until 6:00 p.m. at Mind Unwind Gallery and Art Studio, 2206 California Ave. SW through his organization, "Art For Animals' Sake". The gallery will also offer pet sittings. Pictured bottom, Nickelsville resident Diane took this photo of her cat, Starbucks for the project.

UPDATE: THIS WEEKEND- "A Day in the Life" photo exhibit by homeless youth comes to Mind Unwind Gallery

Mind Unwind Gallery and Art Studio, 2206 California Av. SW, in West Seattle will host a photography exhibit, “A Day in the Life; Photographs by Homeless Youth of their Animals”, Saturday & Sunday, Dec. 1 & 2, noon until 6:00 p.m. Proceeds of framed photo sales, and holiday pet portrait sittings ($30 per sitting) to take place during the exhibit, will benefit anti animal abuse education workshops directed at homeless youth.

The local homeless exhibition intends to articulates empathy for animals through photography, and was organized by West Seattle resident and dog lover, David Walega, and his organization, Art For Animals' Sake, or AFAS. He is affiliated with Shunpike, a 501(C) 3 organization which sponsors art projects to individual entrepreneurs and numerous groups, including dance and theater.

The West Seattle Herald spoke to Walega at a similar exhibition Nov. 8 (pictured above) at the youth drop-in center downtown called Peace for the Streets by Kids from the Streets, or PSKS, that offers hot meals, clothes, and referrals for services including educational programs to homeless and near-homeless youth. It is also dog friendly and many homeless who stop by tote their pets, mostly dogs, and a few cats. The exhibit was a good fit.

"My organization reaches out to homeless, or formerly homeless, residents of Seattle," he said. "We put a disposable film camera in each person's hand (of those who want to participate) and have them go out and photograph themselves and their pets during a day in the life in their world, whatever that means, whether they're actually on the streets or have found temporary housing in Nickelsville or wherever.

"The result is these intimate, beautiful images," said Walega, a professional photographer who is thinking ahead to the next art project with homeless youth, possibly involving the stage. "A lot of times these are people who cannot go into shelters because they do not allow pets. The whole idea was to give them the inspiration to go out and photograph what they are passionate about and be creative.

"Initially just youth participated, but now it's ages 13 to mid-50's," he said. "We had a woman here do a workshop about diet for your dog, and getting vaccinations, and the Seattle Animal Shelter gave us a bunch of coupons to spay and neuter."

Most photos capture a participant's dog or cat, perhaps by itself, or clutched by a friend or sibling, or with the owner who may have handed the camera to a stranger. Walega points to a color photo of a goat.

"This one is called 'Running Goat,'" he said. "It was taken by Josh, a young Nickelsville resident. Nickelsville has two goats they absolutely love and everybody dotes on the goats and they are very well taken care of."

Walega does not think it is cruel to the dog or cat to have a homeless owner.

"The animals are always around their owners, not stuck home alone," he explained.

Former West Seattle resident Eileen de Guzman volunteers at the drop-in center and is helping Walega with the exhibit. She happens to be the daughter of prominent longtime White Center veterinarian, Dr. Camillo d Guzman and is also a dog lover. She said she knows some of the homeless dog owners and their pets and said it's a logical, and emotional fit.

"the connection is companionship," She said. "They keep each other company. No matter how little you have in possessions, your pet is going to be there no matter what. They don't look at your cars, your clothing, they are pure love."

To sign up in advance for a holiday pet sitting click here for Mind Unwind’s website link to the show.

UPDATE: Trent Fillmore's work caught the attention of an anonymous benefactor who gave him a gift. Learn more about it here.

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