Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 9, 2011

By Deirdre Parker Smith
It’s hard to say who is more excited about Cara Reische’s portrait of Jean McCoy’s dogs appearing on a national magazine.
Reische is thrilled, McCoy is practically jumping up and down and local veterinarian Charles Steinman is blown away that the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association picked the painting for the cover of its Aug. 1 issue.
“They did an awesome job,” says artist Reische.
With a circulation of 80,000, the bimonthly magazine is read by vets all over North America, according to Steinman, who came up with the idea to submit the portrait in the first place.
Go back several years. McCoy’s husband, Rick Travis, commissioned Reische to do a portrait of their dogs, Abbie, an adopted stray, and Foxy, a rescue from Friends in Need in Lexington, for McCoy’s 60th birthday.
Reische took photos, did the portrait and presented it to McCoy.
“It was super fun,” says Reische, who is a friend of McCoy’s, “because I love animals. She loved it and I thought that was it.”
McCoy is known for her large flower garden. Every summer she offers a cutting day for an animal-related cause, such as Faithful Friends in Salisbury, or Friends in Need in Lexington.
“Jean is phenomenal and wants to do for everyone,” Reische said.
McCoy took a photo of the portrait to her vet, Steinman. “He likes art and he went crazy,” McCoy said. “He said, ‘Oh, Jean, you’ve got to submit this.’ “ He showed her the JAVMA journal and told her they only put original artwork on the cover.
“The journal comes out twice a month,” Steinman said. “They have old paintings, always some form of art” on the cover. “I said that needs to go worldwide, … the quality of that (the portrait) and the things the journal had before, is second to none. Someday I want a print of that if I can.”
Steinman gave McCoy the information to submit the painting for publication and she and Reische got everything together.
That was three years ago.
Steinman said the journal probably got hundreds of submissions. When McCoy started emailing and calling, the response was, “we get hundreds of submissions.”
“About two months ago, I got an email about it,” McCoy said. They told her the painting should have no frame, so she hired freelance photographer Sean Meyers to take a photo of it.
Not long after, they found out the painting had been chosen and would be on the mid-July issue. Then it was delayed.
“Then Charlie (Steinman) called and said, ‘It’s here. It’s on the cover!’” McCoy tells, with a laugh.
“It’s one thing for something to be chosen,” Reische says, “then to find out it’s all over North America, 80,000 subscribers, I can’t wrap my hands around that.
“It happened because of Jean and her energy,” Reische says.
Reische says McCoy and Travis are very supportive of the arts. “For me, this is pretty awesome because they’re both rescue dogs and McCoy does work for Faithful Friends, and Jon (Palmer, Reische’s husband) is doing the building for Faithful Friends. And I’ll do a mural there. … It all keeps coming back to animals and all the animals needing homes.”
Reische also wants to use this chance to put a plug in for the arts. “With this economy,, it’s really hard” to be an artist. “I understand both sides. … But if you look at different cultures, when people need an outlet because of stress, that’s when people need a release through some kind of art.”
McCoy has had Abbie almost 12 years, and she was 2 or 3 years old then; Foxy they’ve had 7 years and she was just 14 months old.
Steinman says people can order a print of the magazine’s cover and that other vets used prints like that at their clinics.
“This is so exciting for Cara,” he says, “the art in this portrait so incredible. I hope she gets some work from this.”
Reische says the whole thing is very cool. “Having the image out there is huge to me and the fact that Jean and Charlie took it and ran with it, the fact that it brings together some things I think are hugely important in a recession.” Reische believes when people are depressed and in need of something uplifting such as a pet or some sort of art, they should be able to find a way to get it, by visiting a gallery or volunteering with animals. “Life needs to be bettered by these things, instead of taking them away.”
Steinman says he’s never encouraged anyone else to do the cover. “Those dogs are worthy of a portrait and the painting does them justice.”
“I told Jean this puts Salisbury on the map, like sportscasters event or Cheerwine or Food Lion.”