Local Artist Creates Stress-Free and Fun Cat Exam Room for Clinic

August 3rd 2018

An Interview with Darlene Vandevenne

When Dr. Dirk Dekens and Darlene Vandevenne, co-owners of Montgomery Village Veterinary Clinic & Dekens Housecall Services, were looking to put the finishing touches on their new clinic’s cats only exam room, they reached out to local artist Joan Shearer.
“I met Joan through another Montgomery business owner and saw some of the murals and community art she has created [in the area],” Vandevenne says. “I liked her style and she shared in the vision we had to design a fun and playful mural.”
“The point - besides being a beautiful work of art - was to provide a piece that was whimsical, positive and had a great energy to help cats and their owners relax,” Shearer adds, describing it as “the Tree of Life meets Alice in Wonderland.”
“The entire clinic design is about creating a warm, relaxing, and stress-free environment,” said Vandevenne.
Vandevenne and Dekens strongly felt that cats needed a room of their own, since they can be so sensitive to their environment and they “wanted a space that was focused on what cats love to do – climb and perch.”
The mural, which was painted in cat-friendly acrylics and covers almost an entire exam room wall, includes a number of colourful shelves of varying heights for cats to do just that.
“I love a good challenge and thought it would be really interesting to create a piece where the cats would be incorporated into the art [during their visits],” explains Shearer, whose public art has been commissioned by Telus, the United Way, the City of Calgary, and the Montgomery Business Revitalization Zone (BRZ), amongst others.
Vandevenne hopes it will make clients and patients feel at ease and provide a more home-like and less clinical experience for pets and their people. She also emphasized the importance of adding to the community, rather than just joining it.
“[We] have always believed in supporting our community, which has been so supportive of us. We hope this becomes a welcoming place for all.”
Shearer shares in her sentiment.
“Community-based art is extremely important to me,” she exclaims. “It gives me an opportunity to connect and engage with people right where I live, work and shop. I was honoured to be asked to create a mural for the new, progressive clinic in our neighbourhood and I hope people come away feeling like they had a true holistic and creative experience with their cat.”

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