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Delightful Animal Art With a Purpose

For dog lovers who like art, ANIMALIA MUSICALE: A Chorus of Critters at the Marin Civic Center in San Rafael may be just the ticket.

The exhibition features about 80 whimsical images of wild and domestic animals—giraffes, cheetahs, fish, foxes, birds, bears, bunnies, cats, and dogs(!)—painted on musical score sheets by Mill Valley artist Leslie Lakes and hangs on display at the Redwood Foyer Gallery until June 2.

Among the doggie art pieces on display are the mixed media works Indian Love Call: Kiki and Friend, Bulldog Ballad, Puppy Love, and Gracie; a piece in black calligraphy marker, Collie Calling; a watercolor, Hector Berlioz; and Three Phases in the Life of a Female Boxer in charcoal. Equally alluring portraits, even though they are canine-free, are Lakes’ Up the Lift/Going Down, Major Scales, Cheetah Chasing After Middle ‘C’ Notes, and Tanager Tango.

Animalia Musicale-Bulldog Ballad Hi Res 001 (1)

Lakes is the founder and director of P.A.T.H., for Prison Arts Touching Hearts (, a Marin County nonprofit organization that helps incarcerated artists connect with their community through creating art.

“I was first introduced to artwork by incarcerated artists in 2005 when The Fortune Society in NYC sponsored their Fifth Annual Inmate Art Auction. I bid on several pieces of artwork; when I finally received the artwork in the mail, I was so blown away by the sheer talent that I requested to write back to the respective artists to share and show my appreciation,” Lakes said in an email. “Over the years, I have had the unique opportunity and pleasure to get to know many of these incredibly talented individuals. Hence, P.A.T.H. was formed from the heart; a labor of love and from my long-standing desire to create a platform to showcase their incredible artistic talent.”

A portion of the sales of the ANIMALIA MUCICALE art benefits E.L.M, or Enriching Lives Through Music (, a multiyear scholarship music program for local low-income youth. E.L.M. youth performed at the ANIMALIA MUSICALE opening during a wine and cheese reception on Feb. 1.

Animalia Musicale-Indian Love Call Kiki and Friend Hi Res 001

Known locally for her energetic fundraising prowess, Lakes grew up in Greenwich Village, where she studied pottery, painting, and music until moving to Paris with her family and studying there before returning to the Unite States. She is a writer and singer/songwriter/performer for children. Her art—characterized as “lively, witty, quirky, gestural, free, and fluid” combines her “love of anything nostalgic (i.e., antique sheet music, vintage fashion ads, etc.), nature, animals, music, dance, and poetry themes”—has been displayed in the eastern tri-state area as well as Marin County. She hopes “her artwork makes you laugh and smile.”

Redwood Foyer Gallery, Marin Veterans’ Memorial Auditorium, 10 Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael. To learn more about P.A.T.H., visit


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Main article photo by: Drawings by Leslie Lakes