Home
Cameron Woo

Cameron Woo is The Bark's co-founder and publisher.

Culture: DogPatch
The Art of William Merritt Chase
Modern master, Influential Teacher, Dog Lover
The Tenth Street Studio 1880 Oil on canvas, 36.25 x 48.25 in.

The dog lies on a rug in the center of the room, head on the floor, one leg stretched across the train of an elegant white dress worn by the painting’s subject, a young woman comfortably settled in a blue chair. The woman’s head is turned in conversation with the artist, who, from his seat nearby, leans forward, palette in hand. The 1880 painting by William Merritt Chase is entitled The Tenth Street Studio, and is one of the artist’s most celebrated works.

For Chase (1849–1916), this New York studio was the center of his artistic life. In addition to painting there, it was where he held court, welcoming collectors, journalists, students and fellow artists to his ornately decorated and lavishly furnished space. His much-loved dogs were frequent observers of the rarefied mix of theater and ideas that characterized Chase’s gatherings.

The Gerson sisters, Virginia, Alice and Minnie, with
William Merritt Chase, ca. 1880. Tintype, 5 x 6.75 inches.
The William Merritt Chase Archives, Parrish Art Museum,
Water Mill, N.Y., Gift of Jackson Chase Storm, 83.stm.4.

A dog at rest also appears in The Open Air Breakfast (above) (c. 1888), another well-known piece. The garden dog is fast asleep on her side, as though exhausted after a morning of socializing and play. The scene’s casual air is arresting, and provides a snapshot of life in turn-of-the-century American society.

Chase, a prominent member of the international avantgarde, was an inf luential artist and teacher who counted painters John Singer Sergeant, James McNeill Whistler and Winslow Homer among his circle of friends. As a young man, he had studied in Europe, reveling in the rigor of a classical art education. During his six years in Munich, he focused on the masters of European art, and developed a deep appreciation for Spanish, Dutch and French painting. He also became acquainted with a new style of painting that came to be labeled Impressionism.

Upon his return to America, he accepted a teaching position at the Art Students League in New York City, which he embraced with vigor. During his 36-year tenure, he instructed thousands of students—including Edward Hopper, Georgia O’Keeffe and Joseph Stella, who would go on to break new artistic ground themselves—as well as championed American art and contributed to internationalizing its stature. Through his art, his teaching and his advocacy, Chase helped usher in a generation of American modernism.

By all accounts, he was an exuberant and generous teacher who introduced a fresh approach to his subject matter and a vibrant use of color and brushstroke. His own landscapes depicting city parks and Long Island beaches are considered to be among the finest examples of American Impressionism.

Photographs of Chase show him as a dapper bon vivant with a well-coiffed beard and an upturned mustache, often dressed in a dark three-piece suit complete with a carnation in the buttonhole. In her book, The Life and Art of William Merritt Chase (Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1917), Katherine Metcalf Roof described Chase “in his famous hat, accompanied by his almost equally famous Russian Greyhound, which, if not the first Russian Greyhound to be seen in New York, was at least the first one to become a marked character of the boulevards. Indeed, in those days of his bachelorhood there seems always to have been a dog in Chase’s life, usually an English or Russian hound.”

“Before returning to America Chase purchased the beautiful white Russian hound Katti which he used in several pictures, notably the pastel of one of his sisters shown in the sale exhibition in May, 1917. The dog, a fastidious and aristocratic person, spent the following summer with Chase’s parents, where he was the most considered member of the family. They found him rather a trying guest as he refused to eat anything but beefsteak, and they were in constant fear of losing him. He survived, however, to be painted by Chase and caricatured by Church and Blum for several summers.”

—The Life and Art of William Merritt Chase by Katherine Metcalf Roof, 1917

No poor, starving artist, Chase lived well; portrait commissions and teaching provided him with opportunities for travel as well as a comfortable life in New York and summers in the Hamptons. The natural light and rural vistas of eastern Long Island were popular draws for artists of the region, including Chase. In 1891, he helped establish the Shinnecock Hills Summer School of Art, the first school in America devoted to plein-air (outdoor) painting, near the western edge of Southampton Village.

His life and work during this period are well documented in the holdings of the Parrish Art Museum, on Long Island’s East End. The museum holds the largest public collection of William Merritt Chase art (more than 40 paintings and works on paper) and an extensive archive, including a thousand- plus photographs relating to his life and work, in particular, family photographs of summers spent on the island. Tintypes and blue collotypes (the photographic prints of the day) show the artist in his studio and relaxing at his summer residence. His beloved dogs are ever present; a large, white Borzoi and a dark-colored Greyhound are shown lounging with family members and wandering the countryside and seashore. A white, longhaired Wolfhound named Katti appears in several of Chase’s portraits, often with children. Katti can be seen in commissioned works, such as Portrait of James Rapelje Howell (1886), and in his paintings of family members—Good Friends (1888) and Alice with Russian Wolfhound: Friends (1903).

From the Chase family album:

Virginia Gerson, sister of Mrs. William Merritt
Chase, with Chase’s pet dog, ca. 1880.
Tintype, 6.25 x 3.5 inches.
The William Merritt Chase Archives,
Parrish Art Museum, Water Mill, N.Y.,
Gift of Jackson Chase Storm, 89.stm.4.
(above left)

William Merritt Chase with pet dog, Florence,
ca. 1911.
Gelatin silver print, 2.25 x 3.25 inches.
The William Merritt Chase Archives,
Parrish Art Museum, Water Mill, N.Y.,
Gift of Jackson
(above right)

This fall, a major exhibition of Chase’s work opens at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, after a much-lauded showing at the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C. In early 2017, the show will travel abroad to the Ca’ Pesaro International Gallery of Modern Art in Venice.

In the catalog that accompanies the exhibition, Erica E. Hirshler, Croll Senior Curator of American Paintings at MFA Boston, sums up the artist’s impact on American art: “Chase is a major figure in late 19th-century American art both for his own work and the attention he brought to the potential of American art during that period.” The breadth of his painting, from striking portraits to evocative still lifes and glorious landscapes, is on full display in the retrospective, which commemorates the centennial of the artist’s death, and is evidence of his important place in the history of American art.

News: Editors
Playlists Aimed at Calming or Energizing Your Dog
Listening to Music Makes Dogs Happy - Deezer Streaming Service

Ever wonder how your dog feels about your musical tastes? To celebrate National Dog Day (Friday, August 26), Deezer, the on-demand digital music streaming service has assembled a couple of playlists that should be enjoyed by the entire pack. Deezer worked with animal behaviorist Dr. David Sands to study how dogs hear and react to different kinds of music based on beats per minute. The results are two playlists that they claim are scientifically proven to help energize or calm your pup. Unlike previous studies of the impact of music on dogs and recommend the classical genre … there’s no Brahms or Mozart in sight. Instead there’s a selection of more contemporary musical styles including Shutdown by Skepta; Sit Still, Look Pretty by Daya plus favorites Hey Ya! by OutKast and Stayin’ Alive by the Bee Gees for the “happy” playlist. For the “chill” side, Justin Bieber’s Love Yourself; Adele’s Someone Like You and Bob Marley & The Wailers’ Could You Be Loved top the list for a calming vibe.

Not only is it important for dogs to be healthy and happy, but it’s equally important for their people to be as well. When canine guardians are calm and in good spirits, they project the same feeling of happiness onto their dogs. The normal resting heart rate of an average adult is between 60 to 100 beats per minute, but listening to favorite music tracks can raise the heart rate to match the increased heart rate pups experience from the exact same tunes. 

“Your overall health and happiness has a huge effect on your canine counterpart,” emphasizes Dr. Sands. “Both humans and dogs are stimulated by the frequency range, pattern and volume of the beats in music. This is why turning on your favorite tunes cannot only positively affect you, but also your dog.” So, take off the headphones and share the music …!

Here are the complete Deezer’s playlists …

Songs to Make Your Pooch Happy 
The Prodigy – Firestarter
Major Lazer, Fuse ODG & Nyla – Light it Up
Skepta – Shutdown
Daya – Sit Still, Look Pretty 
Timbaland, Keri Hilson, D.O.E. – The Way I Are 
Avicii – Wake Me Up 
Salt-N-Pepa – Push It
OutKast – Hey Ya! 
Underworld – Born Slippy (Nuxx)
Bee Gees – Stayin’ Alive

Songs to Chill Your Canine
Bob Marley & The Wailers – Could You Be Loved
Adele – Someone Like You
Blur – Parklife 
Justin Bieber – Love Yourself 
Caribou – Can’t Do Without You
Baz Luhrmann – Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)
The Stranglers – Golden Brown
Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody 
Snoop Dogg, Charlie Wilson, Justin Timberlake – Signs
Pulp – Common People

News: Editors
Clear the Shelters Event Proves Successful

This past Saturday, July 23—“Clear the Shelters” brought together over 650 animal shelters, rescue organizations and media outlets to address the overcrowding issues that local animal facilities experience in the summer months because of spring litters. In events around the country, shelters waived adoption fees, offered training lessons and free dog and cat food to encourage as many adoptions as possible. The day’s results show 45,252 shelter pets were adopted. That number more than doubles the tally from 2015, the first year of the nationwide effort. Our local event in Berkeley, CA, reported 135 adoptions. Kudos to the organizers and all of the participants, and most of all—congratulations to everybody who welcomed a new animal into their home!

News: Editors
W San Francisco Hosts Summer "Yappy Hour" for People and Dogs

W San Francisco invites all dogs and their two-legged friends to join the hotel’s first Yappy Hour of the season from 5:30 pm-7 pm on Thursday, July 7. The summer party, taking place at Hunt Lane, an outdoor space adjacent to W San Francisco, will feature specialty cocktails and treats for both dogs and owners, a photo station and more pawsome fun. The signature W pink carpet will be rolled out for all guests, and star-studded pups Little Cooper Bear and Sailor the Doodle, Hula & Bean Sprout, Boe The Bear Coat and Sneakers the Doodle will be in attendance.

The world-class W San Francisco is pet-friendly hotel and welcomes dogs and cats to the property through its P.A.W. (“PETS ARE WELCOME”) program. The hotel enhances animals’ stay with dog-walking and grooming services. At check-in, guests receive pet toys, pet treats, a W Hotels pet tag, clean-up bags, details about pet services available through the Concierge team and items available through Whatever/ Whenever® service. Pet stays also include a custom W Hotels pet bed, food and water bowl with floor mat, a pet-in-room door sign, an in-room dining dog menu featuring 8 oz. pan roasted natural beef and grilled natural beef patty, and a special treat at turndown.

To RSVP for W San Francisco’s Yappy Hour, please email rsvpwsfevents@whotels.com

WHEN: Thursday, July 7, 5:30 pm-7 pm WHERE: Hunt Lane at W San Francisco 181 3rd Street San Francisco, CA 94103 COST: Cocktails: $13-15, Complimentary hors-d’oeuvres
News: Editors
Weiner-Dog Spoiler Alert!

Todd Solondz’s new film is titled Weiner-Dog and is classified as a comedy. The director has a unique brand of filmmaking—he’s known for creating off-beat, dark character studies that stretch the boundaries of satire and humor. Many critics champion his work (Welcome to the Dollhouse, Storytelling) while others find them cruel and over-the-top downbeat. It’s not for nothing that he’s been called the “King of Feel-Bad Cinema.” Still, his films are serious and thought-provoking, grappling with life’s most difficult issues—alienation, human frailty, mortality. I was interested to see what he would do with a film centered around a dog.

If you intend to see this film, warning … read no further. The dog does not come to a happy end. And it is not off-camera. The gruesome hit-and-run scene seems to be inspired by Sam Peckinpah, the ’70s filmmaker noted for his ballet-like depictions of death scenes (The Wild Bunch). This cringe-worthy moment is one of many that animal lovers will suffer through. There are several other scenes of antiquated dog “training” and “care” that made viewers wince. Real as they may be, it’s hard to watch. That’s not to say that all film featuring animals must be obligated to end happily. We know that is not how life is. In an interview, Solondz talked with Gawker about the film’s subject matter:

“It’s very complicated in some sense that if you have a pet, a dog, it can be a vessel that one fills with one’s illusions or yearnings or hopes and so forth. That oftentimes has very little to do with the actual dog itself. It’s hard to see a dog in its own dogness. We’re so anthropocentric, it’s hard not to anthropomorphize. I think that when people see an animal harmed, it’s something that’s emblematic of the purity of innocence. Nothing can rival a little dachshund in its cuteness, and in fact, as you are probably aware, people have a harder time with that than harm befalling humans.”

Still, with all of the publicity surrounding the film (reviews in the New Yorker, on NPR) and misleading blurbs portraying the film as a comedy—we feel our readers should be forewarned. This is not a film for the faint of heart and certainly not suitable viewing for children. But don’t take our word for it, check out this review and others, and decide for yourself.

News: Editors
David Duchovny’s “Lick My Face” Challenge to Aid Zero-Kill Effort

Today, actor David Duchovny (The X-Files, Aquarius) launches the “Lick My Face” campaign to support the nonprofit organization, Target Zero. In a new online video, Duchovny’s rescue canine, Brick, devours the actor in licks—whereby for every lick, Duchovny offers to donate at least one dollar to the zero-kill cause (to boost the lick count, peanut butter is applied). Duchovny challenges all of his social media followers, as well as fellow celebrities, ex-wife Tea Leoni and X-Files co-star, Gillian Anderson, to do the same. It’s a playful take on the hugely successive viral Ice Bucket Challenge phenomenon that benefitted ALS a few summers ago.

 

 

All silliness aside, Duchovny is committed to zero-kill and helping shelters meet the challenge. He is an active board member of the Target Zero non-profit and a longtime shelter advocate. “Target Zero is showing a clear path to end the euthanasia of adoptable shelter animals through its proven-to-work mentorship model. We’re currently in ten Fellow Cities, but I’d like us to be in 20, 30, 40 more as quickly as possible to keep saving more and more lives. My hope is this campaign will get the word out far and wide that we're here to help,” enthuses Duchovny.

Co-Founded by social entrepreneur and goodwill activist Tracey Durning, Target Zero provides comprehensive strategies to decrease shelter intake and increase live release rates to achieve the 90+% shelter save rate. Launched in 2013, Target Zero has already gotten two cities to zero; Waco, Texas and Huntsville, Alabama, with Brevard County, Florida set to get there by October 2016. The organization currently works in ten Fellow Cities. “No kill” is defined as 90% or more of cats and dogs getting out of a city’s shelters safely. 10% or less is accounted for by animals that will die from illness regardless of medical treatment and/or large dogs with nonrehabilitative aggression issues.

Visit lickmyface.org to get involved. The challenge is simple and easy, plus fun for the licked and lickee!

Lick My Face Guidelines

  • Participants may join the lick-off just by having a smart phone or video camera and enthusiastic four-legged partner.
  • A pet friendly substance such as all natural peanut butter may be applied to one’s face to up the donation count (and fun!).
  • Participants post their videos to their favorite social media channels: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc
    • • With hashtags: #targetzero #lickmyface,
    • • Challenge others to join the cause
  • Participants will donate at least one dollar for every lick received at http://www.lickmyface.org/
  • News: Editors
    Mutts Comics "Shelter Stories" Series Feb 6
    Mesilla's Story

    Fans of MUTTS comics eagerly look forward to cartoonist Patrick McDonnell's annual "Shelter Stories." For his latest installment, the week's worth of strips were inspired by his visits to New York City’s only public, open-admissions animal shelter—Animal Care Centers of NYC. McDonnell is a longtime supporter of humane causes and looks forward each year to creating tales that move people to support their local shelters. Today’s comic Mesilla's shelter experience.

    Patrick McDonnell was filmed during his time at ACC and will be featured in the national PBS series, Shelter Me. The Shelter Me TV series was created by filmmaker Steven Latham and episode six with McDonnell, “Shelter Me: Hearts and Paws,” will air in May.

    Reissued online by special permission of King Features Syndicate.

    News: Editors
    Mutts Comics "Shelter Stories" Series Feb 5
    Sweetness' Story

    Fans of MUTTS comics eagerly look forward to cartoonist Patrick McDonnell's annual "Shelter Stories." For his latest installment, the week's worth of strips were inspired by his visits to New York City’s only public, open-admissions animal shelter—Animal Care Centers of NYC. McDonnell is a longtime supporter of humane causes and looks forward each year to creating tales that move people to support their local shelters. Today’s comic shows Sweetness' adoption experience.

    Patrick McDonnell was filmed during his time at ACC and will be featured in the national PBS series, Shelter Me. The Shelter Me TV series was created by filmmaker Steven Latham and episode six with McDonnell, “Shelter Me: Hearts and Paws,” will air in May.

    Reissued online by special permission of King Features Syndicate

    News: Editors
    Mutts Comics "Shelter Stories" Series Feb 4
    Ralphy's Tale

    Fans of MUTTS comics eagerly look forward to cartoonist Patrick McDonnell's annual "Shelter Stories." For his latest installment, the week's worth of strips were inspired by his visits to New York City’s only public, open-admissions animal shelter—Animal Care Centers of NYC. McDonnell is a longtime supporter of humane causes and looks forward each year to creating tales that move people to support their local shelters. Today’s comic shows lost dog Ralphy’s experience.

    Patrick McDonnell was filmed during his time at ACC and will be featured in the national PBS series, Shelter Me. The Shelter Me TV series was created by filmmaker Steven Latham and episode six with McDonnell, “Shelter Me: Hearts and Paws,” will air in May.

    Reissued online by special permission of King Features Syndicate.

    News: Editors
    Mutts Comics "Shelter Stories" Series Feb 3
    Bes' Story

    Fans of MUTTS comics eagerly look forward to cartoonist Patrick McDonnell's annual "Shelter Stories." For his latest installment, the week's worth of strips were inspired by his visits to New York City’s only public, open-admissions animal shelter—Animal Care Centers of NYC. McDonnell is a longtime supporter of humane causes and looks forward each year to creating tales that move people to support their local shelters. Today’s comic shows Bes the bunny's adoption experience.

    Patrick McDonnell was filmed during his time at ACC and will be featured in the national PBS series, Shelter Me. The Shelter Me TV series was created by filmmaker Steven Latham and episode six with McDonnell, “Shelter Me: Hearts and Paws,” will air in May.

    Reissued online by special permission of King Features Syndicate.

    Pages