Art meets advocacy

Vancouver artists featured in upcoming Second Story Gallery show donate work to save African elephants

If you go

What: For the Life of Elephants art show

Where: Second Story Gallery, above Camas Public Library, 625 N.E. Fourth Ave., Camas

When: Reception from 5 to 8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 6. Show runs through Saturday, Oct. 28

Cost: Free to enter gallery. Artwork is for sale. Some art is marked as a donation to the Elephant Crisis Fund

For more information: Visit

"Potential" by Vancouver artist Gary Watson, will be part of the Second Story Gallery's October show. (Contributed art courtesy of Gary Watson)

"Ode to John Muir" by Vancouver artist Gary Watson (Contributed art courtesy of Gary Watson)

Artist Katey Sandy's painting, "Mythmaker," will be part of the October art show at the Camas Library's Second Story Gallery. (Contributed art courtesy of Katey Sandy)

Vancouver artist Gary Watson's "Clockwork Orange" painting is one of many included in an October art show at the Second Story Gallery, located above the Camas Public Library, 625 N.E. Fourth Ave., Camas. (Contributed art courtesy of Gary Watson)

Gary Watson's elephant and baby painting, "Hiding from the Storm," is part of a Second Story Gallery art show this month in Camas. Watson is the co-founder of Art for the Life of Elephants, an artist group that contributes to the ongoing struggle against the slaughter of elephants in Africa and other wildlife causes. (Contributed art courtesy of Gary Watson)

"Built on Marble" by artist Katey Sandy is one of the pieces that will hang in the Second Story Gallery in Camas throughout October. A reception is planned for Oct. 6, as part of the Camas First Friday celebration. (Contributed art courtesy of Katey Sandy)

"Hiding in the Scraps," an abstract painting by Vancouver artist Gary Watson. (Contributed art courtesy of Gary Watson)

"Bubbling Reflection" by artist Katey Sandy will be one of several pieces shown at the Second Story Gallery, above the Camas Public Library through the month of October. (Contributed art courtesy of Katey Sandy)

An upcoming October show at Camas’ Second Story Gallery, which kicks off tomorrow with a Camas First Friday reception, will focus on more than just beautiful artwork.

“Some of the (artwork) will be earmarked for the Elephant Crisis Fund,” explains Gary Watson, one of two artists showing at Second Story Gallery through most of October. “All of the proceeds from those with the tags will help the elephants.”

A former business executive turned fiction writer turned artist/wildlife activist, Watson, 70, of Vancouver, has blended his passion for creating unique, often abstract artwork with his desire to end the elephant slaughter currently happening across Africa.

In 2015, Watson and his wife, Deborah, herself an award-winning quilter, founded a nonprofit advocacy organization called Art for the Life of Elephants (ALE) that pulls writers and artists together with one common mission: to raise money and awareness for the Elephant Crisis Fund and save the African elephants.

According to the World Wide Fund for Nature, formerly the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), despite a ban on ivory trading, tens of thousands of African elephants are slaughtered each year for their ivory tusks. Demand for more land to accommodate the growing human population and droughts also threaten the elephant herds.

When Watson was working on what would be his final book, Mercy in Masquerade, he researched the ongoing elephant crisis in Africa and discovered that, if the current number of four elephants killed each hour continues, the African elephant could soon be just a distant memory.

Wanting to do something, but knowing that trying to make even a small dent in such a massive problem can quickly overwhelm two people, the Watsons thought outside the box.

“We had met such an incredible group of artists in Vancouver … and we wanted to do something to contribute, but we know that artists are always being asked to donate and we didn’t want to get into collecting money.”

Instead, a plan to organize ALE formed. The Watsons have donated proceeds from their own artwork and from Gary’s books to the fund and have found other artists who want to contribute their art and time to help stop the slaughter of the African elephants. The couple chose the Wildlife Conservation’s Elephant Crisis Fund because, as they state on their website, “ALE trusts in the fact the ECF joint venture project can accomplish its sole mission: to stop the killing of elephants.”

On Friday, Oct. 6, from 5 to 8 p.m., Gary and his neighbor, watercolorist Katey Sandy, will host a reception for their “For the Life of Elephants” art show inside the Second Story Gallery, located above the Camas Public Library, at 625 N.E. Fourth Ave., in downtown Camas. Both artists will be on hand to discuss their artwork and ALE’s efforts to save the elephants. Keyboardist Brad Jensen will provide further entertainment during the First Friday gallery reception.

The “Art for the Life of Elephants” art show will be displayed at the Second Story Gallery through Saturday, Oct. 28. For more information, visit or