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Shelter Kitten Inspires Local Artist


Great partnerships are often inspired by a shared passion and for local artist, Myke Irving, and Friends of Norfolk Animal Care Center (NACC) that passion is animals.


Irving approached Friends with the idea of doing a benefit painting for Norfolk’s largest animal shelter earlier this spring. The finished work captures a tender moment between a dog and cat.


“Animals have always been a big part of my life and linking

them and my art,” said Irving. “I like the idea of giving

something back to the critters."

Both Irving and Friends wanted the work to convey the heart of the shelter’s operations - the devotion to the animals who reside there. Irving poured over many pictures of animals from NACC, but was uniquely inspired by the images of a young kitten named Turtle, which was no surprise to the shelter staff. 

The tiny feline had charmed caretakers and volunteers alike with her expressive personality and fighting spirit. Turtle came to Norfolk Animal Care Center in April with a severely deformed ribcage. Despite corrective surgery, Turtle survived only six weeks.  Irving found her story as moving as the photographs staff shared. To read Turtle’s full story, movingly captured by NACC staff member Jamie, click here.

Capturing the animals on canvas was nothing new for Irving, who has done numerous pet portraits, from dogs to donkeys and horses.  


He’s been plying his artistic talents for 30 years in both painting and sculpture formats.  You can see some of his commissioned works in both Norfolk and Chesapeake in the form of mermaid and heron sculptures.


Of the 11 mermaids Irving created for the Norfolk’s Mermaids on Parade project of 1999, one is still on display on Bousch Street, a lovely siren adorned with colorful flowers.  You can see Irving’s heron sculptures at both Greenbrier and Chesapeake Square Malls. He created them for the City of Chesapeake in 2006, when the city adopted the Blue Heron as their official symbol.


Irving hopes the piece will resonate with his many animal-loving fans, which have been wildly supportive of his animal-themed art.  The painting is available for purchase in numerous formats, from prints and greeting cards to tote bags and pillows. A portion of the proceeds from the artwork will benefit the Norfolk Animal Care Center.


To order (and support the programs of Friends of NACC and the Norfolk Animal Care and Adoption Center), visit these links:

Sweet Turtle's story is only one of many.  Everyday NACC staff and volunteers go the extra mile to provide medical care, love, shelter, food and support all these vulnerable animals need to make them ready for adoption and lifetime of love.  Your financial support to Friends of NACC helps make many of these programs possible. To make a donation, click here.

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