CEDAR RAPIDS — A Cedar Rapids artist is using his gift to give back to his city.
Santiago Sanchez is almost finished with a painting that will be sold to raise money for the Cedar Rapids Police Department K9 unit.
Sanchez was one of the many downtown business owners who were affected during the flood in 2008. His studio, Signature Santiago, is now located on the northeast side near Coe College.
“I lost everything and the city came and helped me to get back on track,” Sanchez said. “This is kind of my way of giving back to the city, the police officers, and the K9’s that do a great job and put themselves on the line every day.”
For several months, Sanchez has been working on the piece.
“I had a vision on how I wanted it, I wanted it to represent America, I wanted it to represent our city and obviously the dogs,” Sanchez said.
The piece will feature the names of the dogs along with the signatures of all the dog handlers, the police chief and Sanchez. The artwork encompasses different types of paints, brushes and tools.
Upon completion, 1,000 small copies will be made and given to those who make a $25 donation. The large original piece will start at $25,000 and go to the highest bidder. If all prints and the original are sold, at least $50,000 will be raised: Enough for five police dogs.
The Cedar Rapids Police Department currently has seven police dogs on staff. Three are expected to retire in the next few years.
Along with replacing the dogs when others retire, the department would like to add an eighth K9. The dogs are seen as a valuable asset to law enforcement as they can break up or sniff out things officers sometimes cannot.
“Those dogs put themselves on the line every day,” Sanchez said. “When I met the dogs, I was incredibly impressed with their loyalty to their owners and their dog handlers.”
Sanchez hopes his artwork becomes a collectors piece that will be passed down from generation to generation. The final piece will be unveiled at the “Loyal Partners” event at 1 p.m. Dec. 8 at Fiesta Del Sol in Cedar Rapids. The public is invited to attend and will have the opportunity to make a $25 donation to receive one of the smaller limited edition prints.
For more information on Sanchez’s work you can visit his website: www.signaturesantiago.com