Santa Clara’s Silicon Valley Animal Control Authority (SVACA) has a new look and it’s all thanks to Maddie’s Fund and Marin-based artist Jason Guastucci.
Guastucci, who recently painted a large mural wrapping around and inside Merry Mart, was tasked with breathing new life into six of SVACA’s cat condos, giving the formerly stark white walls personality by depicting various themes voted on by the SVACA team. The remaining condos were decorated with additional themes ranging from music, with instruments donated by The Starving Musician, to insects; and sports to a Western-themed room with wanted posters and wagon wheels.
“We wanted to brighten up the rooms,” said SVACA’s Outreach Coordinator Janet Alexander. “This has been [Executive Director] Dan [Soszynski]’s vision for probably 10 years now. He really wanted to amp up the atmosphere here. I was charged with doing this and it has been a fun project. We took 14 of our cat adoption rooms and they each have a different theme.”
After seeing Guastucci’s work on the corner of Washington and Newhall streets, Alexander contacted the artist, and the team began developing room themes. Once the final six were decided upon, Guastucci got to work drawing sketches and painting, starting with a reptile-themed corner room. He then worked his way through each of SVACA’s larger rooms. In all, the project, which includes fish, space, safari, sun and bird murals, took approximately a month to complete.
Both Guastucci and Alexander have said the first room Guastucci painted remains their favorite. The room, featuring snakes, lizards and frogs, has scenery inspired by photos Guastucci took at Stinson Beach.
“I think the first one, the lizard room, is my favorite,” said Guastucci.
“I embrace every one of them, but I think the reptile room, for me, I just enjoy it the most,” added Alexander. “It’s so cool to look at … It’s so hard to choose one because his work is amazing. Of the rooms that I decorated I really like the western theme; I like the bugs. It’s hard.”
Alexander also said each of the redecorated rooms contains an Amazon tablet with cat-friendly games to keep SVACA’s felines entertained when they aren’t being socialized.
The facelift was paid for by an Innovation Grant from Maddie’s Fund, a Pleasanton-based non-profit dedicated to writing grants that better the lives of shelter animals.
“I think it’s really people-pleasing,” said Alexander. “It just makes SVACA more friendly. I think we’re going to have to do the dog rooms; maybe next year.”
Mural Painted by Students
Things have come full circle for San Jose-based artist Armando Delgado. Early in his career, Delgado painted a large mural on the walls of the old Humane Society on Lafayette. Now, decades later, Delgado advised students aged eight to 17 as they painted a new mural at Santa Clara’s SVACA. The mural, featuring a large bird surrounded by smaller animals, was unveiled at leash-cutting ceremony on July 22 and is located in SVACA’s Ya-Ya dog socializing room at the rear of the animal care facility.
“Everyone in my class was involved in one way or another,” said Delgado. “They didn’t just come in and paint the design. They had to work together and put our drawings together to collaborate on the layout and the design.”
“It came together in a way I had never expected,” said Alexander, adding that she hopes SVACA will be able to find funding to continue the mural throughout the remainder of the room.
See SVACA’s new rooms at 3370 Thomas Rd. in Santa Clara. For more information on SVACA or to see the shelter’s adoptable animals visit, www.svaca.com.