“I was at the shelter rescuing a dog and I noticed the silhouettes were looking pretty rough,” Burns, a media specialist at Cleveland State Community College, said.
That evening Burns emailed Janice Casteel, city manager, and offered to restore the cutouts. Casteel thought it was a great idea and accepted his help, Burns said.
The silhouettes include two dogs, two cats, two butterflies, and a bird. Burns is sanding down each cut out before giving them to volunteers to paint. Each volunteer will receive a picture of the original look as a guide. Burns will be completing the restoration of the bone.
“I try to get them to use their imagination,” Burns said. “We do not want them to look like a real bird or basset hound. We want it to look like a cartoon, a little outrageous.”
The original basset hound’s coloring was purple before fading to blue.
“There is no telling how the cutouts are going to come out until I get them back from the volunteers,” Burns said.
Burns originally worked on the silhouettes in 2008.
“In 2005, Discovery Cannel’s “Monster House” placed a bone over the door when they monsterized the animal shelter,” Burns said.
“By 2008 the bone was falling a part and the board [Cleveland Animal Shelter Advisory Board] felt it would be mildly hazardous.”
The bone was taken down much to the disapproval of the community.
Burns, a member of the board at the time, offered to do fiberglass work on the bone. He would also make several animal cut outs.
“A friend of mine, Jere Chumley, who used to work in the art department at Cleveland State made a mock-up of the critters. I took the pictures, scanned them, and used an ICD projector to project the images on the plywood,” Burns said.
Maintenance men from Cleveland State Community College cut out the shapes, Burns said. Art students from Cleveland High School and Cleveland State Community College were then used to paint the silhouettes.
“The city put the silhouettes up and I went to work on the bone,” Burns explained. “I’m not an artist, but the bone was white so I really couldn’t mess up that painting job.”
The wood on the bone had separated from the foam. Burns applied fiberglass work he learned in the Navy and made the bone as good as new. The whole process took a couple of months. Burns said he hopes the current project will be done by the end of July.
Burns has a long history with the shelter.
“I’ve been involved in animal rescue for about 11 years and I was on the board when the matter came up,” Burns said. “Its important to support the shelter and get the animals out.”
By Burns estimation he has rescued over 200 animals. He said he thinks everyone should rescue animals for the simple fact that “they need our help.” His goal with the silhouettes is to give the shelter a brighter facade.
“There are some people that will not visit the animal shelter because they know what will happen to the animals if they are not adopted. I’m hoping to give the place a little more upbeat look,” Burns said.