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Lillian Boyd, Dana Point Times

Dana Yarger believes that now, more than ever, it is essential for the community to connect through art.

While it’s been more than seven years since the Elephant Parade brought dozens of creatively designed elephant monuments to Dana Point, Yarger is now inviting the community to share stories and photos through his “Encore for the Elephants” initiative.

The Elephant Parade is a social enterprise that runs the world’s largest art exhibition of decorated elephant statues. Created by artists and celebrities, each Elephant Parade statue is a unique art piece. The organization raises awareness of the plight of the Asian Elephant, and encourages conservation efforts. The parade event, which has been held in a number of other countries in Europe and Asia, made its first appearance in America in Dana Point.

The Elephant Parade’s first and only event in the U.S. was held in Dana Point in 2013. Now local artists are encouraging the community to celebrate past events and memories by sharing experiences and photos. Photo: File/Andrea Papagianis

 

For eight weeks in the fall of 2013, painted elephant statues standing at about five feet tall were first placed throughout the city. The event culminated with a gala and auction, where funds from the purchased artwork went to the Asian Elephant Foundation and participating artists.

“There was a lot of good will at that time,” Yarger said. “I believe there’s a desire for that good will now. With Encore for the Elephants, we’d like to bring back some of the joy we have.”

Yarger, who owns Dana Bay Gallery, initially hoped for an annual event for the elephants. But at a time in which the country continues to reel from a divisive political climate and the isolation of the coronavirus pandemic, Encore for Elephants could help to inspire.

Wife and husband Laura Seeley and Dana Yarger hope to reconnect the community through public art. Photo: Lillian Boyd

“Perhaps this initiative to hear people’s stories and see their photos will also serve as a way to gauge public interest for a future event,” Yarger said.

Yarger says he is sometimes stopped by strangers who will ask him about the elephants or share their own photos and experiences with him.

“With art on the street, and particularly with the elephants, people ask questions like ‘What is that? Why is that here?’ ” said Yarger. “Of course, there’s a subjective measurement of what art is, and each of the artists had a metaphorical reason for the compositional content of the art. But it gets people to ask questions, start conversations and connect.”

To share your memories and photos of the elephants, follow @galleryatdanabay on Instagram or visit the Facebook page facebook.com/encorefortheelephants.

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