Silly, protective, patient, loyal, cuddly−how would you infuse these canine characteristics into a piece of clay or the stroke of a brush? That's the job of the seven invited Featured Artists in the exhibition Man's Best Friend, on view October 20- December 30.
With so many dog lovers out there, there's a lot riding on these works of art. The canine of today is not a lap dog, the perfect prop in an impressionist family portrait. No, he's risen up. Now an active participant in doggy day care, it's not uncommon to see Spot taking a spin in a stroller. If every dog has his day, the time is now. So, you can imagine the pressure when I asked cat-lover painter Craig Blietz to paint a large-scale canine portrait, or invited multi-media artist Barb Opferman to create a dog scupture of human proportions (that incidentally also takes on human attributes).
The canine muse has been a constant companion for the other five Man's Best Friend artists. Mary Ulm Mayhew depicts her love for her personal pets in her oil paintings. Fellow painter Wayne Simmons' subjects were first his hunting dogs. Photographer Stephanie Bartz discovered that her affection for her subjects was infectious when she displayed a few prints of her own pups at an art show several years ago, pointing her in a new direction in her photography career. Jumping into three-dimensional media, United Kingdom fiber artist Helen Thompson brings a spiritual bent to her raggedy, linen and vintage textile pooches. With expressions and postures that embody genuine canine personalities, Thompson was inspired to create her highly popular works from first viewing photos of ancient mummified dogs. And, for California papier-mâché artist Helen Ju, the words that emerge from the recycled magazines she employs add yet another dimension to exploring the virtues of man's best friend.
Do the artists successfully bring forth the heart and soul of the furry friends we hold so dear? Does the Guenzel Gallery prove to be a "tough room" for this exhibit or a place of honor? Stop by and judge for yourself.
A panel discussion with the artists is scheduled during the opening reception on Friday, October 20, from 4-6pm.