Pittsboro, NC – Siglinda Scarpa, a world-renowned artist, animal activist and founder of the Goathouse Refuge cat sanctuary in Pittsboro, is planning an art show for June 17-18 at the property’s Goathouse Gallery to raise money for a new animal care initiative.
Scarpa is issuing an open invitation for local painters, sculptors, jewelers and other creatives to submit artwork for the show, which will be held in the Goathouse Gallery as well as the adjacent gardens and other spaces on the property. As part of the event, Scarpa also will exhibit a variety of her own newly created art. All proceeds from the sale of her work, and a portion of art sold by other artists, will go to support Goathouse Gallery’s new initiative to provide a permanent home for aging cats.
“This event is a wonderful opportunity for residents in the Triangle area to come out and enjoy the natural beauty of our sanctuary, Italian culture and good company while helping to support Goathouse Refuge,” said Scarpa, who was born in Italy. “The funds we raise will enable us to continue to support our cats with the resources they need to live happy, healthy lives.”
Goathouse Refuge is a nonprofit, cage-free animal sanctuary located on 18 rural acres in Chatham County. Through the generous support of local organizations and cat lovers, a small staff of trained professionals, including two vet techs, provides food, shelter and medical care to more than 100 abandoned and feral cats. A no-kill shelter, Goathouse Refuge serves as a permanent shelter for cats that, due to age, temperament or health issues, need a place to call their own. With the new initiative, Scarpa plans to concentrate her efforts to help aging cats, a particularly underserved segment of the animal community.
“Aging cats are often discarded and abandoned without any thought as they get older and require more care,” Scarpa said. “It’s shocking how many cats are left to fend for themselves at a time when they are the most vulnerable and in need of love and support. With this new project, we aim to provide a safe home for cats that are toward the end of their life and in need.”
To support the new program for aging cats, Scarpa plans to sell a portion of her property. In addition, she is making one of the site’s buildings – a covered pavilion – available for rent to community groups, companies and families looking for space for classes, workshops or weekend retreats. The garden’s features include two outdoor brick ovens for cooking pizzas and other food.
“This property is the perfect place to relax, unwind and commune with nature,” Scarpa said, adding that one of the buildings on site has space to accommodate overnight guests. “In today’s hectic, high-pressure world, we all need a place where we can escape and recharge.”
In preparation for the June art show opening, Scarpa has begun creating a new range of decorative pottery. Due to a series of major health challenges, the artist had to step away from creating art for several years but, in recent months, has returned to working in her studio, which is also located on her property. Known for her airy porcelain sculptures that call to mind delicate undersea corals or passing clouds, along with rustic, terra-cotta cookware adorned with ornamental fruit and tendrils, Scarpa’s latest work builds on nature-inspired themes while also incorporating new elements, such as recycled tools, beads and shells used as handles and trim.
Born in Novara, Italy, near Milano, Scarpa apprenticed herself to a ceramist at 16. By the 1970s, she was teaching at her own studio in Rome. Eventually, she moved to New York, where she taught at Greenwich House Pottery in Manhattan and Garrison Art Center in Garrison, N.Y. Then, on a visit to central North Carolina in 1995, she fell in love with the warm climate and the friendly people. A year later, she bought 18 wooded acres on a site five miles from Pittsboro, which included a simple house that she expanded with a series of creatively designed second-floor decks that provide a bird’s eye view of the scenic surroundings, including the property’s many gardens and arbors.
Goathouse Refuge takes its name from a goat that came with the property. While Scarpa still has a number of goats, as well as dogs and chickens, on her land, cats have long been her focus. Litters of kittens started showing up at her door soon after she moved to North Carolina, as word got out that she loved animals, and over time she created a nonprofit group – Goathouse Refuge – to support her growing mission to provide a safe harbor for cats without a place to live.
Since its founding in 2007, Goathouse Refuge has placed more than 5,000 cats into loving, permanent homes. In addition, it has provided a permanent home for countless other cats who couldn’t be adopted. Today, the site has different types of enclosures for cats of different dispositions and needs, and it includes an onsite infirmary for ill cats.
“There aren’t many places in the world that offer ongoing, unconditional care to animals in need, but that’s exactly what we provide at Goathouse Refuge,” Scarpa said. “We believe every cat has the right to a life free from both danger and indifference. And that’s as true for older cats as it is for young ones.”