COLUMBIA — Sharon Paulsell and Ashley Cooper's painted tiger statue stands at attention, decked out in a World War II dress uniform, complete with a hat, a short jacket and pants.
The tiger's look was intentionally designed by the mother-daughter team to honor their assigned charity, Central Missouri Honor Flight, a local chapter of an organization that provides veterans free flights to the war memorials in Washington.
Paulsell and Cooper are among 12 teams who participated in this year's Tigers on the Prowl "Tigers Unleashed" event, which unveiled the tigers Friday evening at Columbia Mall. Tigers on the Prowl is an annual series of events that uses the work of local artists to raise money for various charities.
Artists submited their designs to the organization earlier in 2014, and 12 were approved and assigned a charity and sponsor. People vote by donating to the tiger's charity online or at the event, and the tigers will be auctioned off Oct. 3. The money is split between the charity and the artist.
This year's 12 artists are Scott Kronk Ambiaka Maupin; Laura Costanzo; Kara Brooks; Andrew Glenn; Dana Hartgrove; Carolyn Wallace; Brittany Williamson; Lynnette Jones; Cooper and Paulsell; and the "Roots 'N' Blues Art Crew."
Paulsell and Cooper, both amateurs, like to call themselves "closet artists," so they were surprised when their design was accepted. Because they are active volunteers with Central Missouri Honor Flight, it was fitting that their design be dedicated to the organization.
Most participating artists are local professionals, many of whom know each other. Lisa Bartlett, owner of Artlandish Gallery, art director of the Roots 'N' Blues 'N' BBQ Festival , and the leader of "Roots 'N' Blues Art Crew," attended the event last year to support her friends and loved the projects.
As the leader of a group of five artists — the largest participating group — she created the design for her charity, Mid-Missouri Blues in the Schools, and for her love of music.
"I like to do blues and music artwork, so (my design) was based on some of my paintings," Bartlett said. She said her chosen charity brings professional musicians to elementary schools for workshops with students.
Kronk, a former Artlandish Gallery artist and an event veteran, created a tiger for Central Missouri Honor Flight last year, which raised just less than $6,000 total.
"This year, I wanted to do something that really showed my art and artistic style," Kronk said. "I'm producing a series of animal eye paintings, so I took that and did my target design around animal eyes."
Although some artists base their designs on their charity, not all do. Some base it off their artistic interests or their beliefs.
This year's charity Love Inc. "was very easygoing, almost 'Hey, whatever' about it," Kronk said. "So this is truly my idea.'"
Hartgrove, another former Artlandish Gallery artist and event veteran, also uses her own artistic vision to create her designs.
"This year, it's based on the essay I submitted titled, 'Unity Through Diversity,'" Hartgrove said. "Columbia comes together through all situations, whether it be a football game or festivals or events. That's my theme."
Her "Starry Night" tiger from last year also had a similar blanket approach to a theme. "Starry Night" is an overall representation of artwork, she said, just as tigers are an overall representation of Columbia. Her tiger raised about $3,200, including its auction price.
Last year's event featured 10 vibrant tiger statues, a complicated floral design and a humorous painting of a captive Jayhawk in a cage on the tiger's chest. The tigers' personalities at this year's event are just as diverse, Hartgrove said.
"That's one of my favorite things about this town," she said. "How diverse it is. Its strength is its uniqueness."
Supervising editor is Samuel Hardiman.