News: Editors
Hair of the Dog

For those of you searching for an antidote to excessive holiday cheer or one New Year’s toast too many— we bring you “hair of the dog” or a drink to combat the hangover. This “dog” takes many forms, most commonly a variation of a Bloody Mary but may also include concoctions of gin, whiskey, tequila or beer. But what is the origin of this curiously named tonic? It can be traced back to medieval times and an abbreviation of the longer phrase “the hair of the dog that bit you.” It is based on the ancient folk treatment for a rabid dog bite of putting a burnt hair of the dog on the wound.

John Heywood, in his 1546 compendium, A dialogue conteinyng the nomber in effect of all the prouerbes in the Englishe tongue, uses the phrase with a clear reference to drinking:

I pray thee let me and my fellow have 

A hair of the dog that bit us last night - 

And bitten were we both to the brain aright. 

We saw each other drunk in the good ale glass.

The remedy works with the belief that a small amount of whatever caused the ailment, is also the best cure. While hair of the dog is now dismissed as an effective treatment for rabies, the taking of additional alcohol to cure a hangover has some scientific basis. The symptoms of hangover are partly induced by a withdrawal from alcohol poisoning. A small measure of alcohol may be some temporary relief. Many experience drinkers swear by it, and one can make a case that it does work .. but only for a short time and then you're back to the hangover, only worse. Your body contains an enzyme, alcohol dehydrogenase. It breaks ethanol down into the other chemicals that are making you ill. Adding more alcohol (ethanol) makes your body stop and concentrate on the new alcohol coming in so you do get a brief reprieve, but as soon as that added alcohol gets processed, you're back where you started but with even more toxic chemicals floating around. Unless you intend to keep drinking forever, hair of the dog is a temporary remedy at best. Instead, may we suggest a nice cuddle with your dog for what ails you …?!

News: Editors
George Rodrigue, beloved for his Blue Dog paintings, dies

New Orleans lost one of her favorite sons, artists George Rodrigue, on December 14, of cancer. He was 69. Rodrigue, the son of a bricklayer, drew upon his Cajun heritage for his work, most notably for his Blue Dog paintings, which were inspired by his deceased pet named Tiffany. The Spaniel-Terrier mix, painted with a white nose, yellow eyes and a cobalt blue body, first appeared in 1984. Rodrigue’s Blue Dog image became a New Orleans icon, appearing in advertising campaigns for Absolute Vodka and Neiman Marcus, posters for the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, coffee table books and the collections of celebrity collectors. The paintings were beloved for their pop sensibility and folk art style mixed with regional folklore—the Blue Dog is a gentle, friendly version of the loup-garou, the werewolf or ghost dog that hides in sugarcane fields and haunts mischievous children.

In addition to his creative accomplishments, Rodrigue is being lauded for his numerous charitable acts. After Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the subsequent flooding laid waste to much of south Louisiana, the Blue Dog appeared with an American flag, both partly submerged, to raise money for storm relief. The Blue Dog Relief drive raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to aid rebuilding, including $100,000 to help the New Orleans Museum of Art reopen. In 2009, he founded the George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts, which advocates the importance of the visual arts in education.

When asked to explain the popularity of his Blue Dog paintings, the artist offered this appraisal—“The yellow eyes are really the soul of the dog. He has this piercing stare. People say the dog keeps talking to them with the eyes, always saying something different.” The paintings, he said in the interview, “are really about life, about mankind searching for answers. The dog never changes position. He just stares at you, and you’re looking at him, looking for some answers … The dog doesn’t know. You can see this longing in his eyes, this longing for love, answers.”

Survivors include his wife, Wendy Rodrigue, and two sons, Jacques Rodrigue of New Orleans and André Rodrigue of Lafayette.



Culture: DogPatch
Masterwork: Gertrude Käsebier
Classic portrait of Charging Thunder and his dog.
Charging Thunder, American Indian photograph from glass negative. ca. 1900

Before becoming one of the most influential American photographers of the 20th century, Gertrude Käsebier (1852–1934) was a wife and mother, experiences that informed her hallmark studies of women and their children. She also had an independent streak. At 37, an age by which most women of her day had settled into domesticity, Käsebier enrolled in painting and drawing classes at the Pratt Institute, then switched to photography and made it her career.

Käsebier later opened a portrait studio on New York City’s Fifth Avenue and, in April 1898, watched as Buffalo Bill’s Wild West troupe paraded past it on their way to Madison Square Garden. Among the performers was a contingent of Lakota Sioux. Inspired by the respect she had for the Sioux people of her Colorado youth, she asked William “Buffalo Bill” Cody for permission to make studio portraits of those traveling with the show, and Cody agreed.

Käsebier’s photographs—some of her portfolio’s most introspective and highly regarded—focus on the Native performers as individuals rather than cultural objects. Charging Thunder and his dog (shown here) were among her subjects. A few years after Käsebier took his photo, Charging Thunder went to England as part of Cody’s Wild West show and remained there after the show returned to the U.S. He died in 1929.

Culture: DogPatch
Porch Dogs
Maggie & BB, a Jack Russell/Australian Cattle Dog mix and Labrador/Beagle mix, in Charleston, South Carolina

Photographer Nell Dickerson fondly recalls childhood nights on the sleeping porch of her grandparents’ Mississippi Delta home—the sounds of katydids, cicadas, and tree frogs, the merciful breeze from the overhead fan. But during the heat of the day, the family sought refuge indoors, leaving the dog to his lonely vigil. “I felt like he understood that the porch was the gateway between inside and outside and that it was his duty to keep sentry there in case someone wanted to pass,” she recalls. For eight years, Dickerson traveled across the South taking portraits of dogs committed to the deep-seated tradition of watching the world. Those photographs comprise her latest book, Porch Dogs.

Culture: DogPatch
On View: Bill Traylor, Folk Artist
An exhibit at the American Folk Art Museum.
Bill Traylor - Artist

The story of Bill Traylor (1854–1949) proves that fine art can come from the most unexpected places. Born into slavery in Alabama, Traylor worked as a field hand on the plantation of his birth for most of his life. In 1928, he moved to nearby Montgomery, where he found work as laborer. After rheumatism forced him to retire, he received modest aid from a federal welfare program and slept in the back rooms of local shops.

To pass the time, the 85-year-old Traylor spent his days drawing on discarded scraps of cardboard, recording Montgomery’s bustling black community, memories of his time on the plantation, and animated figures at work and play. In the last decade of his life, Traylor produced more than 1,200 drawings. Today, he is lauded as one of the pioneers of the 20th-century group described as “outsider” artists.

Traylor’s art is much admired for its complex spatial organization, in which the surfaces are populated by flat, interlocking figures, geometric shapes and animals. Dogs are often present, passing in and out of scenes, working or observing human activities.

“Bill Traylor: Drawings from the Collections of the High Museum of Art and the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts” is on view at the American Folk Art Museum in New York through September 22, 2013. This is a rare opportunity to see the work of one of the finest American artists of the modern era.

A new film on Bill Traylor by Jeffrey Wolf is in production.

Culture: DogPatch
Fair Trade Signs
Reviving a Nepalese folk-art tradition
Fair Trade - Dog Signs

Since 1986, Nepal has been a respite for Michelle Page, a former assistant film editor who lives in Santa Monica, Calif. The country’s friendly residents and low cost of living made it an attractive escape after she had spent countless 14-hour days in a dark room working on movie projects such as Spiderman II.

But in 2007, just as her own job security was starting to wane, Page noticed a similar trend on the streets of Kathmandu. “There used to be these beautiful hand-painted signs everywhere,” recalls Page. “Then suddenly, all the new signs seemed to be digitally printed on vinyl.” Hoping to help keep traditional artists employed, Page developed an art program inspired by her favorite Nepalese signs: the ubiquitous “Beware of Dog” warnings decorating gates throughout Kathmandu. Painted in colorful enamel, the metal signs often feature a German Shepherd, but also many other breeds that obviously live at the home or business in question —Beagle, Dachshund or Dalmatian. Page has documented 360 examples during her vacations.

Since opening Danger Dogs in 2007, Page has visited Nepal twice a year— a 60-hour round-trip commute—to connect U.S. pet owners with signboard artists who need work. Armed with photos customers have given her of their dogs, she spends six hours a day traveling in the sardine-can confines of minibuses to various painters’ studios, where she hand-delivers the photos for transformation into signs announcing “Danger Dog,” “Zen Dog” or whatever the customer prefers in both Nepali script and English.

To date, Page has overseen the creation of 2,700 pieces by 58 artists, who set their own prices for the work they craft for this unexpected U.S. audience. “There’s a big well of talent, and arranging the paintings is more fun than you can imagine,” says Page. “The artists are thrilled because they get to paint. They take it very seriously.” For each commission, Page hires three different artists. Although she tries to accommodate people who request a specific painter (“They do move around a lot”), she usually gives the portrait to whichever signboard artists she “would like to see do that dog.”

“Some artists do innovative lettering, while others do really well with hair or particular facial expressions,” Page explains. A handful of artists can work from “problem pictures,” ones in which the only shot of a deceased pet is out of focus or has “green eye” from the camera’s flash.

Once the signboards are complete, Page emails digital images to the customer, who can buy one ($250) or as many as they like—or none if they feel the painter missed the mark. Page then sells the other versions through her website (nepaldog.com), galleries and museum shops.

Narrowing the choice to only one proved impossible for Kristin Anderson of Malden, Mass. “Charles’ eyes are just perfect in one painting. It really captures his expression,” says Anderson, who commissioned a painting of her friend’s Cocker Spaniel as a wedding present this spring and ended up buying two signs. “We got a real rendition of Charles Barkley.”

Culture: DogPatch
Montreal Botanical Gardens
Montreal Gardens - Hachiko

During my late-summer visit to the Montreal Botanical Gardens’ Mosaïcultures Internationales “Land of Hope” exhibition, I was greeted by two delightful canine sculptures crafted entirely from plants: Japan’s Hachiko faithfully waiting on a train station platform, and from Canada, shepherd Elzéard Bouffi er planting a tree alongside his sheepdog and flock. The show features 48 living masterpieces created by horticultural artists from 25 different countries, who present their cultural icons through a botanical medium called mosaïculture.

These works are breathtaking in their size and detail. Unlike topiaries— trees or shrubs pruned into specifi c shapes—each unique piece of art is made from thousands of individual plants. Mosaïcultures Internationales uses 4,000,000 pieces of plants, fl owers and colorful foliage, and the largest sculptures stand almost 50 feet tall. Pictures do not do this exhibition justice, so get to the Montreal Botanical Gardens by September 29 and see it for yourself.

News: Editors
Paper Mache Dogs' Heads
The Art of Michael Ballou

If you are in the Brooklyn area, you still have a couple days to check out the work of Brooklyn-based multimedia artist, and great dog-lover, Michael Ballou at the Raw/Cooked exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum. The show runs until July 7.

Ballou’s practice incorporates sculpture, performance, and collaboration, and he has altered three spaces in the museum with site-specific installations. Connecting them is his interest in the appearance, behavior, and inner lives of animals. Spilling out of a large-scale vitrine in the fourth-floor Decorative Arts galleries, Ballou’s Dog Years is a monumental construction of over sixty dog head sculptures, modeled on animals of his acquaintance.

New York Times art critic, Roberta Smith, commenting on a previous exhibit of the artist, observed that “Mr. Ballou has a light but distinctive touch and a wonderful feeling for life's little moments of absurdity and beauty, both found and conjured.”

We’ve been trying to find out if these amazing dog heads are for sale, if anyone knows, or has a way of contacting the artist, do let us know!


Culture: DogPatch
Master Paintings of James Tissot
Celebrating the elegant life … with dogs.
James Tissot: Young Lady in a Boat

Like many 19th-century painters of modern life, French artist James Tissot (1836–1902) frequently depicted the new, more intimate relationships between dogs and their owners. During this period, people increasingly believed that animals and humans had similar emotional and intellectual responses, and the bond between pet-keepers and pets was foregrounded in new ways. Tissot, an avant-garde painter associated with Edgar Degas, portrayed a wide range of dog types with great charm, affectionate understanding and skill throughout his career. Indeed, he must have owned a number of dogs, as particular animals appear repeatedly in his pictures. A painting from Tissot’s French period, Young Lady in a Boat (1870), represents a woman in the fashionable costume of the early 19th century, accompanied by a Pug. This toy breed was a sign of wealth and status. Here, it has the slightly longer legs and snout that were typical until later in the 19th century, when the dogs began being bred for the pushed-in faces popular today. The woman’s gaze suggests that she is on a romantic rendezvous, and indeed, an alternative title for the picture—Adrift—implies that she could potentially lose her moral compass as well. Clearly, her Pug is keeping a watchful eye on her!

Culture: DogPatch
Newborn Puppies
Bichon Frise/Chihuahua/Pekinese Mix, 12 days old

Traer Scott, photographer of Shelter Dogs and Street Dogs, has now turned her lens on some of the sweetest creatures on earth: puppies in their first 21 days of life. Her recently released book, Newborn Puppies, captures these vulnerable, wobbly, utterly adorable beings about to embark, as she says, “on the great adventure of growing up.” More than just a collection of pretty faces, the book also considers puppy mills and the need for humane education.

During much of the time that I was working on Newborn Puppies, I, like my subjects, was adjusting to life as a new mom. Because of this serendipitous parallel, I found myself in a unique position to observe firsthand how many of our most fundamental experiences of motherhood are also shared by dogs. I felt particularly simpatico with the mother dogs, who, despite being initially grateful for a break from their demanding litters and a chance to romp outside, became unbearably anxious after about 20 minutes. They would burst through the door, trampling anyone in their way to get to the whelping box. In a frenzy of licking, nuzzling and sniffing, they ensured that every pup was clean and safe and then, figuratively exhaling, settled down to nurse. I felt the same ebb and flow of relief and anticipation every time I left for work. Being briefly separated from my daughter was restorative, but after a few hours, I ached to hold her again.
Newborn Puppies: Dogs in Their First Three Weeks
Hardcover, 128 pages, 75 color and black & white photos
Published by Chronicle Books