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Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Dogs in Stripes
The paintings of Kate Hoyer

“I paint dogs in stripes because it makes us look at dogs not just as animals we own but as part of our culture. Painting them in stripes echoes how integrated they have become.” So explains artist Kate Hoyer on her website.

Hoyer has been painting in stripes for almost 30 years, but originally she employed this style for abstract work. Later, she decided that she wanted to combine what stripes offer as a design element with realistic subjects.

The result of this combination of richly colored stripes with recognizable forms is a striking body of work, with dogs being her most recent subject matter. My art education is limited, but I know dogs, and what I see in Hoyer’s paintings are dogs whose expressions and emotions feel real with the vibrancy and honesty that’s always sought, but less often achieved, in art.

Culture: DogPatch
Masterwork: Young Man and Woman in an Inn by Frans Hals
Young Man and Woman in an Inn

Frans Hals (1582 – 1666), the celebrated portraitist and genre painter, together with Rembrandt van Rijn and Johannes Vermeer comprise the pantheon of Dutch painting’s “Golden Age.” Hals’ subjects were the bourgeois of Haarlem, a hub of a new 17th-century Dutch economy. His colorful characters were painted with a vibrant palette and bold brushwork unseen in realist painting. Unlike the somber dignity found in Rembrandt or the contemplative interiors of Vermeer, Hals paintings radiate an exuberance in style and composition. He is at his best when he combines portraiture with genre painting, as he does in Young Man and Woman in an Inn (1623). Popularly known since the eighteenth century as Yonker Ramp and His Sweetheart, it is one of Hals most important works, an examination of “everyday life” or the depiction of modern manners and mores. The painting shows a brief encounter in a tavern between a young man and woman. Yonker is an English rendering of Jonker or Jonkheer, which means “Young Gentleman.” The young man depicted here was considered to resemble Pieter Ramp, the ensign in the background of another Hals painting Banquet of the Officers of the Saint Hadrian Civic Guard Company (Frans Halsmuseum, Haarlem) of about 1627. The Yonker here raises his glass in celebration as the woman, arm around his shoulder vies for his attention. Her rival is a dog (resembling a Griffon), the canine’s muzzle cupped in the hand of the Yonker, perhaps enjoying a morsel of food. The immediacy of the scene and the dazzling brushwork are remarkable. The facial expressions exude a raucous gaiety verging on caricature, while Hals’ painterly skill is in full force with his virtuoso handling of flesh, fabric and lace. The painting recalls a contemporary Dutch adage: “the nuzzle of dogs, the affection of prostitutes, and the hospitality of innkeepers: None of it comes without cost.” As demonstrated in this masterwork, Hals was not shy about portraying his subjects foolish behavior or showing the crass side of the new gentry class. Few paintings capture the personality of its subjects with such vitality and unvarnished joy—it’s as if Hals joins the Yonker and his lady friend in winking at us from the canvas.

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Photographing Terminally Ill Dogs
“Joy Sessions” by Sarah Beth Photography

The service dog’s name was “Joy” and photographing her had a profound affect on Sarah Ernhart. The photo session was a gift from a friend of Joy’s guardian, who was in hospice. Joy was among the most important individuals in the woman’s life, and the pictures meant so much to her that it inspired Sarah to start something new with her business, Sarah Beth Photography.

The dog’s name gave her the idea to name the new service “Joy Sessions,” which she has trademarked. Joy Sessions are photography sessions offered at a reduced price for people whose pet is terminally ill. She often schedules Joy Sessions for the same day or the next day, as soon as they’re needed. Images from her Joy Sessions are emotionally compelling because of a couple of factors. Ernhart’s photographic skills, including making her subjects comfortable, a strong eye for composition and design as well as an understanding of the technical elements such as lighting and depth of field, combine with her focus on the relationship between people and dogs to create memorable photographs with extra special meaning. It’s her contribution to helping people go through the trauma of saying good-bye to a pet.

Sarah contributes to her local pet community in other ways. She donates 10 percent of her pet session fees to local non-profit groups that help animals such as shelters, rescues, or advocates for animals. She offers discounts of up to 50 percent for people who have adopted their dogs from rescue and is a member of HeARTs Speak, whose stated mission is to unite the individual efforts of animal artists and animal rescues into collective action for social change.

Sarah’s photographs are lovely, and what she says about them shows her love for dogs as well as her images do. My favorite comment? “Ohdinn’s studio session was a gift from his mom’s best friend. He’s getting up there, and they wanted to bring him in while he still had some pep. If this silly, happy old man doesn’t make you smile, I’m not sure we can be friends anymore.”

News: Guest Posts
Norman Rockwell’s Best Friends
New exhibition focuses on dogs’ role

It’s hard to imagine the world of Norman Rockwell (1894–1978) without the sweet, loyal presence of dogs. Sleeping peacefully, waiting patiently or eagerly joining in children’s adventures, dogs were an abiding presence in his Saturday Evening Post cover paintings, story illustrations, advertisements and family Christmas cards throughout his career. They were also constant companions in Rockwell’s life—from his own dogs to neighbors’ pups, borrowed as models.

The current installation, “It’s a Dog’s Life: Norman Rockwell Paints Man’s Best Friend” at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Mass., explores the artist’s furry muses through original artworks, photographs and archival materials that offer insights into his artistic goals and working methods.

“His fondness for dogs comes through when you look through photos of him in his home and around his studio,” says Joyce K. Schiller, PhD, curator for the Rockwell Center for American Visual Studies. “One of my favorite ones is Rockwell painting at his easel with his last dog, Pitter, asleep on the floor next to him.” This image is on display in “It’s a Dog’s Life,” which runs through Nov. 11, 2011.

Rockwell didn’t say much about his habit of including dogs in his work publicly or in his correspondence, Schiller explains. But he did include a little on the subject in an advanced illustration course written in the 1940s and included in Rockwell on Rockwell: How I Make A Picture (Watson-Guptill Publishers; Famous Artists School, 1979).

“Animals are often the center of interest in story telling pictures and at other times they can be included naturally in a picture. In such cases, they are very appealing and helpful,” he writes. But, he also adds, “I do not like to see an appealing animal put into a picture just to save the job.”

News: Guest Posts
Reason #179 to Love Senior Dogs
They photograph fantastically, just ask Nancy LeVine

One of my dogs is getting on in years. She’s 13-plus, a little stiff in the hind end, her black fur is flecked with more white than in the past and her irises are cloudy. She’s getting The Look—a world-wise sweetness that melts my heart on a regular basis.

Nancy LeVine knows all about The Look. She’s photographed senior dogs around the country, capturing their nobility, grace and fragility. We featured LeVine’s work in Bark (March/April 2009), and now you can view Lens Culture's online gallery of some of these portraits. It’s absolutely worth a visit. (Oh, and she does commissions!)

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Winning Dog Art for Wine Label Contest
Artist Nancy Schutt takes it with “Out of Reach”

Over the years, Mutt Lynch Winery has created wines with names such as “Unleashed Chardonnay” and “Merlot Over and Play Dead.” They consistently combine a love of dogs with a love of wines, and the results are often as charming as they are delicious.

They just announced the winner of their third annual wine label contest, which is “Out of Reach” by artist Nancy Schutt. There were many wonderful entries in this contest, which was co-sponsored by Mutt Lynch Winery and Dog Art Today. The theme of the contest was “Naughty.” The wine “Out of Reach” will be available in August 2011, and 10 percent of the profits from its sale will be donated to an animal shelter.

News: Guest Posts
Calling All Artists Inspired by Naughty Pups
For the third annual Mutt Lynch Winery label contest

Our friends over at Mutt Lynch Winery in Sonoma, Calif., and Dog Art Today recently launched their third annual wine label contest, and we want to spread the word to Bark readers who are also artists—we know there are many of you.

The contest calls for canine-themed artwork (no photography) on the theme “Naughty” for a special blend of Cabernet called “Muttitage.” Five hundred bottles of the exclusive blend with custom label will be sold during the Dog Days of Summer event on August 6 at the Mutt Lynch Winery in Healdsburg, Calif. Ten percent of sales will go to the Healdsburg Animal Shelter.   In addition to bragging rights and the satisfaction of helping shelter pups, the winning artist receives a case of wine, a featured spotlight on Dog Art Today and an invitation to the Dog Days event. Find complete contest details here.
The entry deadline is Friday, May 13 at midnight PST.  Online voting runs from May 16 to May 21, 2011. Good luck and happy painting/sketching/assembling/sculpting. Don't forget to play with your dog.
News: Guest Posts
Ai Weiwei’s “Circle of Animals” Coming to New York
Will the Chinese artist and government critic be allowed to come too?

It’s funny how an interest in dogs takes you places. This morning, I was drawn in by the photo of a giant dog head sculpture in The New York Times. It’s part of Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s Zodiac series, which will be installed outside the New York City’s Plaza Hotel in May.

  Wanting to know more about this inspiring canine, I ended up learning about an inspiring artist—Ai Weiwei. A longtime critique of the Chinese government, the sculptor/conceptual artist was embraced by the leadership for many of his early years. Ai was even selected to collaborate on the famous Bird's Nest stadium for the 2008 Summer Olympics.   Then, he turned around and criticized China for whitewashing it’s repressive policies during the Olympics. He blamed the government for corruption that lead to poor construction of schools that collapsed, killing thousands of children during the Sichuan earthquake. Since then he has been targeted by the government. He has been beaten, his studio has been razed and he is currently in detention.   What has this got to do with dogs? Well, other than the gorgeous Zodiac rendition not much, directly, but when you look at your life with dogs, you’ll probably see many ways they link you to the world—either physically, through walks and activities, or mentally, as you connect with dogs in art, literature, science, politics and on and on.   Meanwhile Ai was expected to attend the unveiling of “Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads” on May 2, we’re hoping he will be released to “walk” his rather large dog in New York on the big day.

 

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Robert Bradford’s Dog Art For Sale
Big bucks can buy recycled art

The artist Robert Bradford of Great Britain has a dog piece up for sale, and it’s available for under $10,000! Bradford has a solo show in Paris at Envie d’Art and his work includes “Beg,” a two-foot high dog in a begging posture. It is made of toys, clothes and flashlights.

  Bradford is well known for his sculptures of recycled toys and has other works of art in the form of dogs. They are not to everyone’s taste, and while I like seeing them, they don’t fit my home décor or my home decorating budget.   Are you a fan?
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Jamie Wyeth Dog Portrait Up for Auction
Artist marked his own dog

Artist Jamie Wyeth created many paintings of his Yellow Lab Kleberg with a circular marking around one eye. One of them is called “Study of Kleberg” and will be up for auction at Christie’s in New York City next week. It is expected to go for $40,000 to $60,000, which is quite a chunk of change for a painting that was done as one of a series of studies for a larger painting of the subject.

  Wyeth, who paints animals as well as people and landscapes, once spontaneously painted a circle around Kleberg’s eye when the dog approached his easel while he was working. He liked the look, which reminded him of Pete the Pup from The Little Rascals, and maintained this mark on his dog for the rest of Kleberg’s life, which inspired many paintings. He found that moustache dye was better than paint because it lasted longer, though it still required monthly touching up.   I’m sure Wyeth has been criticized for doing this to his dog, but there is no denying that the resulting paintings are charming.

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