Wednesday, September 12, 2012

All's Docile at Dogapalooza 2012

Dean Liscum

There are two kinds of people...Actually, with 6,973,738,433 and change (based on the World Bank's census numbers at the end of 2011) people on the planet, there are probably 362,166,576 kinds of people. Regardless, I'm insensitive, obtuse, and lazy, so I recognize only two kinds: people who love pets and the rest of us. A sub-category of that group is a cross-section of people who love dogs and people who love art. Combine the two and you get "dog art," which is art in which the focus is "the dog". This kind of art is a Rorschach test without an answer key. I have no idea what "dog art" means categorically or individually, but I'm pretty sure whoever invents an interpretive rubric for it will win a MacArthur "Genius" Grant.

So, I couldn't miss Dog Park at G Gallery not because I expected to be blown away by the art or because I love dogs, but because I was curious what had happened--What kind of dog art had local artist made? What would happen when you bring together art, alcohol, and dogs?  My negative fantasy involved animal control.

Here's what I observed while I was there.

 "dog" phrases on the window of G Gallery

Joe Furman and Laura Lark, Untitled

I bet Laura Lark drew the dog just to screw with everyone. It looks like a portrait of a dog that bit me on the butt when I was jogging through a Houston suburban. Despite its slogan, getting fanged in the ass there was not any sweeter than had it happened in Montrose.

Nestor Topchy, St. Christopher Dog Head Icon

Nestor Topchy seems to suggest that the patron saint of bachelors is dog face\headed. I believe he may have stumbled upon a truth. Here's a work by the patron saint of dog art in Houston, Sharon Kopriva.

Sharon Kopriva, title unknown

The amorphousness of Tara Conley's dog captures how I feel about dogs. I'm not sure if this dog wants to lick me to death or just burrow to my brain through my face.

Tara Conley, Dog (top view)

Tara Conley, Dog (side view)

I think a lot of abstract expressionism aims for the immediacy and satisfaction of St. Sanders' Date night, but comes short.

St. Sanders, Date night

This image by Ben Tecumseh DeSoto is a powerful and stark reminder of America's love-and-get-distracted-and-neglect-or-abandon relationship with pets. The consumerist ethos doesn't work very well with some "goods."   And, no I'm just not sure what to make of the genital warts ad under the dogs feet, but I can't let it go unmentioned.

Ben Tecumseh DeSoto, Dog Realizes Death

Debra Broz, Royal Canine

I'm not sure what Debra Broz's Royal Canine is implying. Perhaps, if you have a tongue like that you are treated as royalty.

Magsamen+Hillerbrand, Cerberus

Magsamen+Hillerbrand's dog is a mythological wanna be that is a couple of heads short but it's better than dressing it up in doggie spandex and sequins.

Otis Ike, Waiting for Wegman

Otis Ike's Waiting for Wegman is a fun send up of Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot. Although, I couldn't find any mention of Beckett having dogs as pets, I did discover two pieces of literary criticism that had gone to the dogs. One about dog imagery in Molloy and another that insists that pets are "gushingly doted on by spinster ladies in Beckett's fiction".

When the topic of the life of dogs in America comes up (and that dog isn't about to be euthanized), Autumn Beckmann's April Mae represents my mental image except the doghouse designed by Frank Lloyd Wright is missing.

Autumn Beckmann, April Mae

Outside, there was a lot of butt-sniffing going on. The dogs were getting to know one another as well.

Much to my chagrin, animal control did not have to come out and Houston's S.W.A.T. did not need to separate any dog owners. But at least, none of the dogs mistook my shinbone for a chew toy.


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