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.
The Metropolitan Museum invites you to collect and connect
NYC’s Metropolitan Museum of Art is the largest museum in the United States, and houses over two million works in its permanent collection. In an effort to broaden its reach and engage virtual museum goers, it has introduced MyMet, an online feature that allows you to select and store favorite works of art, and share them via social media. With MyMet, the museum’s incredible collections are at your fingertips. Enter “dog” in the search and you’ll get 1,184 results! We spent a few hours browsing through a treasure trove of art, objects and artifacts.
Photographer Amanda Jones captures the all-American dog
Mixed-breed. Mongrel. Heinz-57. All-American. Mutt. Would a dog by any other name smile as sweet? You may be surprised to know that the most popular, or, shall I say, most prevalent type of dog is now a mixed-breed. There are more mutts in American homes than any single breed—more than Labs, Golden Retrievers and Yorkies (who rank two, three and four, respectively). That’s saying something.
In Amanda Jones’ new book, A Breed Apart: A Celebration of the New American Mutt, she employs her fine artistry to capturing all that we admire about these true one-of-kind dogs. Couture originals each and every one! Let those purists have their papered pups—give me a “breed apart” anytime!
As a lifelong devotee of mutts, I completely understand America’s current fascination. What better candidate could there be for first-place honors in a country that proudly claims to be the world’s melting pot? For going on 10 years now, my job has allowed me to meet wonderful dogs, many of them of “uncertain parentage.” Where do I start to sing their praises?
If every dog has its day, let’s hope that it’s the mutt’s turn now. Even though all dogs originally came from mixed-breed stock eons ago, mutts have played second fiddle to their more high-bred brethren for too long now! The idiosyncratic charms of the dogs in this book speak volumes for the love they share with their humans. With so many exceptional dogs, of all sizes and shapes, awaiting adoptions at local shelters—how can one pass over their uniqueness while also knowing that you saved the life of a dog that was “made” just for you!
Alex Katz, known for his bold, hard-edged figurative paintings and prints, is one of the most recognized and celebrated artists of his generation. In the late 1950s and early ’60s, Katz ushered in a new approach to portraiture, helping define the American Pop Art sensibility. In his work, Katz depicts family, friends and most often, his wife and muse, Ada, as well as the Maine landscape where he spends his summers. In one of his best-known works, he portrays Sunny, the Katz family dog, chest-high in coastal grasses. Katz’s art is noted for its cool detachment and seductive elegance—walking a tightrope between traditional figuration and pure abstraction. This spring (2012), the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, presents Alex Katz Prints, a major retrospective of prints by Katz from the 1960s to the present. On view will be some 125 works—prints, unique and editioned cutouts on aluminum and illustrated books. Plus, Sunny.
Robert Clarke studied at the St. Martins School of Art in London. A skilled draftsman and visual artist, his drawings and paintings of dogs have garnered praise from both sides of the Atlantic. His A–Z series of canine portraits culled from London and New York residents—represent a dog for each letter of the alphabet.
My London A–Z exhibit was British breeds, mainly—dogs you can walk on the heath (with a few exceptions like X for Xolo and Z for Zuchon). The New York A–Z show were smaller breeds—Bostons, Chihuahuas, Pugs, the urban dog. They are each their own dog, with an individual personality. These wonderful creatures need to be loved. I love to paint them … all of them.
Yes, I was attacked by a dog when I was two, and never really got over the fear until I decided to get a Jack Russell puppy. I went to a puppy club—we handled all sorts of dogs, letting them mouth us, touching their paws, really trying to bond with them. That was when I got over my fear. Then with the onset of the dog paintings, I met dogs of so many different breeds—and they were all wonderful in their own right. I feel comfortable now.
I try to capture the essence of the dog. When I meet the dog, I gauge her playfulness and her attitude, but I also sometimes work from assorted photos without seeing the dog in person. Each dog has a different personality; I try to capture that in paint. For example, some dogs are in need of exactitude (Jack Russells, Chihuahuas). The smaller dogs generally are portrayed more closely, while the larger, hairier dogs are more abstract (Wheatens, Cockapoos).
I have a canvas ready and sift through the images I’ve got on hand. I get a sense of color and feel from the picture, and paint the dog. Sometimes it all comes together like magic; other times, it’s the smallest detail like adding a dot to the eye that makes the dog spring from the canvas.
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Photographer takes pictures of shelter dogs before they're put to sleep
A photographer in Taiwan is on a mission to get people to take a serious look at the way animals are treated in his country. Tou Yun-fei takes photos of dogs at the Taoyuan Animal Shelter in the moments before they are euthanized. In the last two years, he's captured the images of 400 dogs.
Activists say that 70 percent of dogs in Taiwanese shelters are killed after the 12-day waiting period. Tou began his project because he didn't think the media was giving enough attention to the problem and felt that too many people considered these animals disposable.
After Tou photographs the dogs, vet techs take them for a last walk in a grassy courtyard, then lead them into a small room where they are euthanized.
Some of his friends refuse to look at the photos, and I can certainly see why. The pictures are haunting. They look like the kind of portrait that a dog lover would commission of their beloved pet. But then you realize that these dogs were not saved in time and have already been put to sleep.
The project is heartbreaking, if a little morbid, but an important one. I've met photographers who take striking photos of homeless pets in the hopes of catching the eye of a potential adopter, but Tou's project hopes to be much bigger and change the way people view and treat these animals.
It's not easy to inspire cultural change, but Tou's photographs might just be the project to spark conversation and force people to rethink longstanding beliefs.
A selection of Tou's photos will be exhibited in his first full scale show in August at the Fine Arts Museum in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. For those not in the area, you can view his work online.
Home Works: Best picks of domestic design
“They live in their hometown”
This eyecatching and inventive clock by Korean designer, Dongjin Byeon, does not employ numbers and hands to show time, instead, the figures of an elderly woman, her granddaughter and a fast-moving, dog represent hours, minutes and seconds respectively.
The figures move through the scenes of daily life that are arranged around the circumference to indicate hours. For example, when the grandmother sits on a bench, it is about 7:00 am/pm with the assumption that she would take a rest on a bench looking at the sunrise/sunset. According to Byeon, his clock also “suggests the daily patterns of our lives but it also implies our aspiration for a simple life."
Pictures in an Exhibition
Max Miller is known for abstract paintings that embrace color and line, as well as figurative works with human and animal subjects; dogs are among his favorites. On occasion, he employs both genres in a hybrid style perhaps best described as canine psychedelia. These oils and watercolors explode with color and shimmer with richly decorated backgrounds—it’s as though the dogs have leaped into the paintings and turned to gaze back at us, inviting us to join them. The combination of the two styles is at first disconcerting, but we quickly settle into Miller’s altered reality with its visual cornucopia— traces of Middle Eastern mosaics, bright tie-dye patterns and wild amoebic shapes delight the eye and bring to mind what was called “mind-tripping” back in the day. Careful—you may find yourself leaping into these paintings too…
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
A one-of-a-kind design
“A house for Eddie is an opportunity,” was Frank Lloyd Wright’s reply to a boy who requested designs for a doghouse from the famous architect. Though he designed many famous buildings and homes in the many decades that he worked in architecture, this is his only known doghouse.
Jim Berger was 12 when he wrote to Wright and asked if he would design a doghouse for his dog, Eddie. Berger’s parents had a house designed by Wright and Jim really wanted to build a doghouse that would go with the house and that would allow Eddie a comfortable place to rest in the winter. Though Wright was a little too busy at the time working on the design of the Guggenheim, he did send Berger the designs a few months later, free of charge. Berger had planned to pay by saving up money from his job delivering newspapers.
Though the original doghouse was destroyed, Berger and his brother rebuilt it form the original design for a recent documentary about Frank Lloyd Wright called “Romanza.” Though he now has three Beagles, Berger says they prefer to stay in the house, and he hopes that the doghouse will find a home in a museum.
Fantastic, Mythic, Realistic Dogs
Two visual parallels best explain the drawing collages of Chicago artist and poet Tony Fitzpatrick: Roman Catholic holy cards and baseball cards. In each of these forms—one sacred, the other vernacular (if not profane)—a primary image is surrounded by other images that combine visually to tell the story of the figure in the center. St. Patrick might be set amidst a four-leaf clover, a banished snake, a Celtic Cross; Babe Ruth among the number 714, a New York Yankees logo, a bat. Both the holy card and the baseball card also include some text, a prayer to the saint or the player’s stats, as Fitzpatrick’s drawing collages include his poetry, laid like the brick walls of the city along the margins of the work.
Fitzpatrick’s collages—which include his poetry, laid like the brick walls of the city along the margins of the work—grow out of his desire to tell stories about Chicago, some person or place or emotion. Around a central drawn image, he builds the collage using the detritus of everyday life: old matchbooks, postcards, cigar bands, advertising, girly magazines, baseball cards, political pamphlets, playing cards, novelty glow-in-the-dark stickers, bus transfers. These physical fragments of everyday life evoke a past Chicago, places long-gone, some forgotten, some dimly remembered, and allow Fitzpatrick to create magical memories of the city.
These images sometimes use dogs: mythic, like Anubis in Apparition of the Honored Chicago Dead, or semi-anthropomorphized, like Blues for Mr. Hound Dog; realistic like Wonder Dog, or fantastic, like Chicago Ghost Dog. Fitzpatrick’s work is both intimately personal and an engagement with everyone’s Chicago. The deep emotional honesty that marks his work comes out perhaps most strongly in the poem Chicago Ghost Dog: “Somewhere in Chicago there is a dog that remembers the stars and my Dad.”
Fitzpatrick learned his Chicago from his father, who was the inspiration for his book-length poem, Bum Town. The best dogs, with their loyalty and devotion, are like members of one’s family, and the image of a stray dog, without family or home, unable to see the stars blotted out by the city’s lights, can haunt us. But if one of those strays remembers Fitzpatrick’s father, and the stars, everything is connected again, the individual and the cosmos, in dreamlike imagery.
His ability to create such magic in words and images is what makes Tony Fitzpatrick one of Chicago’s greatest artists and poets.
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