Dogs, cats and dragons: Benefit brings out characters |

Dogs, cats and dragons: Benefit brings out characters

Artist Ron Rodecker will have a benefit show at AnimalSave Saturday and Sunday.
John Hart/ | The Union

Ron Rodecker says he got into art because he didn’t want his epitaph to read “Should have been an artist.”

So in the late ’70s, and in the middle of his career in education, Rodecker began painting. It was during a quick trip to the Alpha Beta Market in Southern California that inspiration struck in 1985. Rodecker walked past a big table with books for sale at the grocery store and spotted the “Encyclopedia of Legendary Creatures,” illustrated by Victor G. Ambrus.

His wife had encouraged him to use color rather than his preferred use of black and white in his work. Rodecker thought he was no good at color.

“I looked at this book and for some reason it was a moment. I thought, ‘I could do this,’” he recently recalled.

After purchasing the book for $2.50 and buying watercolors, Rodecker began what would eventually become his next career, as an artist. His colorful, whimsical creations of dragons eventually caught the attention of Sony Studios. His illustrations came to life as the PBS animated show “Dragon Tales” — work that earned him three Emmy nominations.

Now a Nevada City resident, Rodecker uses his stockpile of illustrations and artwork to help causes near and dear to his heart. Each year, he hosts an exhibit and sale to benefit a local organization. This year, proceeds from his show will go to support AnimalSave. Rodecker has been a devoted human to the dogs of his family, all of which have been adopted from a shelter.

“I have no life other than that,” he joked.

The employees and volunteers at AnimalSave do a great job nurturing “disenfranchised pets,” which is why Rodecker selected the nonprofit this year.

His show and sale will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at AnimalSave, 520 E. Main St. in Grass Valley. Rodecker will be there, with his extensive print and original artwork collection. He will draw free sketches of characters from “Dragon Tales” for children of all ages, he said.

It’s worth stopping by just to meet Rodecker. He’s a charming character in his own right.

For more about AnimalSave or his benefit show, call 530-274-1111.

Features Editor Brett Bentley can be reached at or by calling 530-477-4219.

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