Perhaps it was because, since last Presidents’ Day, I’ve adopted a dog – or perhaps it was just a harmonic convergence like the inexplicable schooling of fish art in 2012.
Oddly, the Art Wynwood exhibition – also during Presidents’ Day weekend – had no notable concentration of dog art that I could detect. Not until I reached the Coconut Grove and St. Stephen’s shows did the canine imagery begin to bark at my senses.
Dog portrait artist
While exploring both shows, I found a number of artists for whom dogs are an appealing topic. Then there is Michelle Mardis of Tarpon Springs, Florida, who specializes in portraits of dogs. I was fascinated by the works she displayed at her St. Stephen’s booth.
“How do you get them to sit still and pose for you?” I asked, mindful of my own perpetual-motion puppy.
“I work mostly from photographs,” she explained.
A visit to Mardis’s booth and Web site took me into a fantasy world of vivid hues that would astonish any self-respecting pooch – a palette rich in blue, magenta, and orange. “I’ve recently moved away from pop art to a more naturalistic style,” she said.
As her approach to color has shifted, what remains constant is a bold, intense, in-your-snout perspective that captures an individual dog’s personality. She must have lots of fun psychoanalyzing dogs and their owners to fulfill the latter’s expectations.
Other dog-themed images
At the Coconut Grove Arts Festival, I found a variety of dog-themed images in a variety of media. Among them, Edward J. Bartoszek of Mission, Kansas, exhibited Walk the Dog. This cartoon-like image of a grinning canine floats on a horizon-less yellow background surrounded by bones.
Tiffany Ownbey of Rutherfordton, North Carolina, displayed Five Dogs, an unlikely quintet of canines seated in a cookie-cutter upright pose, all intently gazing to the viewer’s right. Her mixed-media work employs paint on collage; the dogs’ fur consists of swatches of plain paper, newsprint, and maps.
Katie de la Cruz of Bridgeport, West Virginia exhibited Woof, another mixed-media creation. Painted on pages torn from a book about basketball are the silhouette of a dog, the word “dog” in Spanish, canine utterances “WOOF” and “BARK”, and some packing-crate stencil instructions.
Jim Budish of Highland Park, Illinois, showed Bailey. The extended tongue of this bronze beast could express panting after a vigorous dog-trot, or a playful grin. You decide.
Miami sculptor Maite de Para brought Snoopy, an example of her edible art – cakes decorated with sugar frosting. In 2012 she convinced the Coconut Grove Arts Festival judges to create a new category for her creations. In so doing, they acknowledged the validity of edible art as a distinct art form.
The accompanying slide show contains works of dog art that particularly appealed to me.
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