You say there’s just no time to carve a pumpkin this year?
Why not let a squirrel take over the job?
We suspect some tricks were used behind the scenes to accomplish this — maybe some well-placed smears of peanut butter — but this video shows what the average squirrel is capable of, with a little direction.
And you thought their creativity was limited to getting into the bird feeder.
Then decides to abort ’em
Is it right to dig them up
And publish them post mortem?
When an artist abandons or otherwise trashes a work in progress — be that artist a musician, painter or writer — it’s usually for good reasons
When an heir, agent or publisher digs up the discarded work of a dead or incapacitated artist it, and seeks to package it for public consumption, it’s usually for one:
That — more than paying homage, more than fleshing out the historical record — is what’ I’d guess is behind the publication of “new” books by two of America’s most beloved authors.
Harper Lee’s Go Set A Watchman — essentially the trashed first draft of To Kill a Mockingbird — was released this summer, even though some say, given Ms. Lee’s mental state, she isn’t likely to have endorsed the project.
What Pet Should I Get, by Dr. Seuss (Theodore Geisel), hit bookstores today — 24 years after his death.
Fifty years after Seuss and Lee became part of popular culture, their respective publishing houses are saying, in effect — and like an infomercial — “But wait … There’s more.”
The new Seuss book is based materials found in the author’s San Diego home in 2013 by Geisel’s widow, Audrey.
According to Random House, when Audrey Geisel was remodeling her home after his death, she found a box filled with pages of text and sketches and set it aside with some of her husband’s other materials. Twenty-two years later, she and Seuss’s secretary revisited the box.
They found the full text and sketches for What Pet Should I Get? — a project that, seemingly, Seuss didn’t feel good enough about to pursue.
As reincarnated books go, Go Set a Watchman has proven far more contentious.
On top of questions over whether Lee wanted the work published, it’s first-version portrayal of Atticus Finch as a bigot is hard for some readers to take, especially those who read Mockingbird.
What Pet Should I Get? hasn’t entirely escaped controversy.
The story line is simple: A brother and sister (the same ones featured in One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish) go to the pet store with permission from their parents to pick out a pet.
The can’t seem to agree. The brother wants a dog, the sister wants a cat, and some consideration is given to a “Yent that could live in a tent.”
Some reviews are saying the rhymes lack the pzazz and zaniness of Geisel’s better known works.
In addition, the book doesn’t stand up to the test of time. It was written in a day that buying a dog from a store was deemed acceptable — decades before the atrocities of puppy mills (where many such dogs came from) became known.
Among the book’s earliest critics — even before it came out — was PETA, whose president contacted Random House to point out it might send the wrong message to young readers. Apparently, Random House took the advice to heart. In an eight-page afterword, the publisher makes a point of explaining, among other things, that families should adopt rather than buying dogs and cats from stores.
What’s not addressed are the ethics of profiting off selling the unpublished works of the dead.
In the spirit of Dr. Seuss, let me conclude with a couple of modest thoughts. You can call them little point one and little point two.
Point one is a note to creative types. You might want to consider outlining in your will, in great detail, what may or may not happen to, and who should get any profits from, any unpublished works that you squirreled away in a drawer rather than burned or threw away.
Point two is that, in celebrating our beloved writers, particularly two who shaped the lives, hearts and brains of so many children and young adults, remembering their wishes should be paramount.
The publishing world is something of a zoo, and it’s not above shoveling out some stinky stuff wrapped in shiny new packages.
So be careful of that wily fox
He’s smarter than a lot of us
Watch out for tigers, snakes and bears
Beware the hippo-posthumous
Posted by John Woestendiek July 28th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, artists, authors, books, books on dogs, children's books, dead, dog, dr. seuss, estates, go set a watchman, harper collins, harper lee, heirs, literature, pet, pet stores, pets, popular culture, posthumous, publication, publishing, random house, theodore geisel, to kill a mockingbird, what pet should we get, wills, writers
I’m not sure what I love more about this artist — her paintings, her name, her theme or her determination.
Levity Tomkinson is a Kentucky artist who has tackled a serious project — painting all 51 of the dogs seized from Michael Vick’s dogfighting operation in 2007.
She’s more than one-fifth of the way there.
Finding herself struck by the resiliency of those Vick dogs who were rescued and rehabilitated, Tomkinson got the idea in 2012 and started what she calls The Re51lient Project.
Tomkinson had started painting dogs — beginning with her own, a pit bull mix named Rinlee — in 2010, when, after graduating college, she found herself without any good job leads.
After reading an article about Vick dogs who had been rehabilitated and adopted, the project began.
“I thought of the idea during a time in my life that was really unpleasant, where I was trying to find meaning and happiness and purpose again, and these dogs were absolutely a part of my healing process. They inspired me to be positive, to smile and look at the world and appreciate all different kinds of beauty …. I am forever indebted and grateful to these dogs for changing my life.”
Like many dog lovers, Tomkinson was moved how many of the dogs taken from the NFL quarterback’s Bad News Kennels managed to overcome the horrors inflicted on them there.
As she explains it on her blog, “I cannot begin to fathom the daily lives of the 51 dogs who were rescued, and those before who weren’t. I paint for the 51 …
“I paint for the dogs … that didn’t win in a fight they never wanted anyway, dying from injuries with punctured skin and a mauled lip and face that became raw meat. I paint for the dogs … with that were forced into a rape stall to unwillingly bring more dogs into the world of dog fighting. I paint for any dog who has been, is, or will be a part of this heinous world. The resiliency of the 51 is my courage, my push, my determination, and my love for this project.”
Tomkinson, according to the Huffington Post, hopes to turn the project into a book, with portraits of all 51 dogs — those who were adopted and those who spent the rest of their lives in sanctuaries.
“Every single dog has importance and a story to tell, something to teach us, and either their passing or not being adopted doesn’t lessen their message or them,” she said.
“If Re51lient can empower one person to choose positivity over negativity, triumph over fear, allow them to let go of past hurt or add one more pit bull lover to this world, then my heart is happy. ”
(Photos: Lucas, a former Vick dog who died last year at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary; Tomkinson, from her Facebook page; and Ray, a Vick dog adopted this year)
Posted by John Woestendiek May 7th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: art, artist, artists, dog, dog art, dog artists, dogfighting, dogs, kentucky, levity tomkinson, michael vick, paintings, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, re51lient project, rehabilitation, rescue, resilience, resiliency, resilient project, vick dogs
His studio, in a giant red barn, is silent. Stacks of wood sit uncarved and untouched. But the gallery he built, the dog park he created and, perhaps his greatest inspiration, the Dog Chapel, remain open on Dog Mountain — an ongoing testament of one man’s love for dogs, and to what dogs add to our lives.
His widow wants to keep it that way, and with the renewed demand for his work after his death, a morbid fact of life when it comes to art, it’s looking like Dog Mountain, once facing foreclosure, will, happily, survive.
In what was one of the saddest stories in the art world, and the dog world, this year, Huneck, whose joyful odes to dogs — carved, sculpted and stamped on woodblock prints — shot himself amid a depression triggered by a recession.
The sagging economy had, starting in 2008, slowed sales of his art, forced him to close down his multiple studios and eventually — in what was hardest for him — lay off almost all of his 15 employees.
With the economic downturn, she said, “People were unsure of the future, and when people are unsure of the future, they don’t buy art.”
Two days later after letting his employees go, Huneck, who was being treated for depression, shot himself in his car, parked outside his psychiatrist’s office in Littleton, New Hampshire. He was 60.
In a press release after his death, Gwen wrote, “Stephen feared losing Dog Mountain and our home. On Tuesday, he had to lay off most of our employees. This hurt Stephen deeply. He cared about them and felt responsible for their welfare.”
Despite its founder’s demise, Dog Mountain, somehow, remains a joyous place. Dogs romp and splash about in the lake at the well-manicured dog park; hikers trek its trails; customers delight in Huneck’s whimsical woodcut prints, hung about the gallery; his sculptures rise from the landscape; and a steady stream of dogs and humans flow in and out of Dog Chapel, Hunecks hand-built replica of 19th Century New England church — designed, like almost all else he did, despite some major personal obstacles, to honor dog.
In 1994, Huneck fell down a flight of stairs and was in a coma for two months. When he came out of it, he had Adult Respiratory Distress Syndrome, and doctors were not optimistic.
Huneck had to relearn how to walk, how to sign his name. But he went back to work, finishing a series of woodcut prints based on his dog Sally. The first woodcut he carved was “Life Is A Ball” celebrating his new found life.
His near-death experience also inspired him to build the Dog Chapel — a place where people can celebrate the spiritual bond they have with their dogs, past and present.
He started it in 1997, finished it in 2000, and then opened it to the public. Admission was, and is, free. Leashes were not, and are not, required.
Huneck called the chapel “the largest artwork of my life and my most personal.” A sign outside the chapel states: “All Creeds, All Breeds, No Dogmas Allowed.”
A miniature version of a 19th century New England village church, the chapel has four hand-carved pews, with carvings of dogs at the end of each, stained glass windows that feature winged dogs (a recurring image in his work).
The interior walls are covered with post-it notes, left by visitors. Originally there was one “Remembrance Wall,” where pet owners could memorialize their pets. Now all the walls are covered with them.
People who couldn’t make the trip could email their remembrances and Huneck would post them for them.
After his recovery, Huneck continued producing dog-inspired works of art, and, by 2000, Dog Mountain was a multi-million dollar business. He published a series of children’s books, and opened galleries across the country.
All that came after a difficult childhood. Huneck, who was dyslexic, grew up in the Boston area in what he described as a turbulent home. He left home at 17 “with 33 cents in his pocket,” his wife said. After attending Massacusetts College of Art in Boston, where he met Gwen, Huneck became an antiques dealer. Through repairing furniture, he taught himself how to carve.
In 1984, one of his original carvings caught the eye of a New York dealer, and he was soon making art full time, according to his obituary in the New York Times.
Gwen and Stephen settled in Vermont, and bought a 200-year-old house. Huneck built a studio alongside the house and worked there until 1995 when they bought a nearby farm, converted its dairy barn into his new studio, and later built the chapel and gallery.
“We’d used our life savings to keep the business going, but we ran out of money,” Gwen said.
Even in his depressed state, Huneck knew there is higher demand for a dead artist’s work — and some say, to the extent there was any, that was the logic behind his act, that he killed himself to save Dog Mountain.
Gwen — though she had doubts about whether it would be possible — was intent on saving Dog Mountain after his death. She kept the gallery and chapel open, and business improved.
Today, Dog Mountain has eight employees — most of them the ones who had been laid off. Business is brisk, both on the mountain and on the Huneck’s website, www.dogmt.com.
At the gallery, dogs are welcome, and Gwen encourages those coming in to take their dogs off their leashes.
Ace accepted the invitation, greeted Gwen’s three dogs — two Labrador retrievers, Daisy and Salvador Doggie, and a golden retriever named Molly — then settled down on the floor amid a collection of Huneck’s work.
Many have described that work as whimsical — carved Dachshund lamps, prints of dogs with wings, dalmatian benches and the like — but delightful as each individual piece is, Stephen Huneck’s body of work, and his life, went far deeper than whimsy, striking a chord with many. Ten months after his death, it still resonates.
“I’ve learned so much more about love from my dogs than I ever did from my parents or the church,” Huneck told The Chicago Tribune in 1997. “They’re really great teachers. They love you with their whole heart.”
Maybe writer Edie Clark said it best in the piece she wrote for Yankee magazine after Huneck’s death:
“Stephen was to dogs what dogs are to us.”
(Story and photos by John Woestendiek)
Posted by John Woestendiek October 12th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: america, animals, art, artists, artwork, demand, dog, dog art, dog chapel, dog mountain, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, economy, gwen huneck, new england, pets, prints, recession, road trip, st. johnsbury, stephen huneck, suicide, travels with ace, vermont, wood block, woodcuts
Madrid — the one in New Mexico, pronounced MAD-rid — wants you to slow down.
It’s not just to make you less likely to run over a valued tourist; and it’s not just to make you, if you are a tourist, more likely to stop at one of the galleries in the funky artists’ colony and make a purchase.
No, the advice — to many, at least — is aimed at protecting dogs. Because, as the sign says, Madrid loves its dogs.
In addition to the official 25 mph speed limit signs posted throughout town, I spotted a couple of these — hand-painted pleas (it is an artists’ community, after all) reminding motorists to be on the lookout for dogs.
Madrid, which turned into a ghost town when the mines closed in the 1950s, has been enjoying a revival since the early 1970s, when artists began moving here and opening galleries and shops. It’s home to what’s purported to be the longest bar in New Mexico, at the Mine Shaft Tavern, and dozens of galleries featuring paintings, photography, sculpture, crafts, pottery, textiles and more. A haven for motorcyclists, it also served as the setting for the movie “Road Hogs.”
It’s also home to some road dogs — pooches who, though owned and loved, are of the free-range variety. I saw a couple of them walking alone along the road, and generally doing a better job of avoiding traffic than the tourists did.
I’m proud to report that I made it through Madrid — at 25 mph — without running over either.
Posted by John Woestendiek July 19th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace does america, animals, artists, dog, dog's country, dogs, madrid, mine shaft tavern, new mexico, ohmidog!, pets, road dogs, road hogs, road trip, signs, speed limit, tourism, tourists, travel, traveling with dogs
They are everywhere — tall dogs, short dogs, big dogs, small dogs, black, white, brown, red, yellow and brindle dogs.
There are smelly hippy, just-passin’-thru dogs (and I’m not saying from where the odor is emanating — human, or canine, or perhaps the sweatstained, refrigerator-sized backpack).
There are gigantic purebred poodles, as regal-looking as their owners.
And there are a whole lot of Labs, shepherds, terriers, hounds and who-knows-whats in between.
Santa Fe calls itself “the city different,” for numerous reasons, but perhaps nowhere is its diversity more noticeable than in its dogs.
You see dogs on street corners. You see them in Santa Fe Plaza, the town’s main gathering place. You see them in outdoor restaurants, poking their heads out of passing cars and, by the dozens, at Frank S. Ortiz Dog Park — an expansive swath of high desert, dotted with cholla and juniper (provided by nature), and dog bowls, plastic chairs and poop bags (provided by its users).
Despite its lack of frills, Frank S. Ortiz Dog Park — it’s named after a one-time mayor — has arroyos and hills, miles of paths, and commanding views of the town. (By virtue of its size alone, it appears destined to make our top 10 dog park list.) Yes, dogs are one thing you can’t avoid in Santa Fe.
Dogs and art.
Art, too, is everywhere — street corner stands,murals, ritzy galleries, rustic studios. The only thing there may be more of than dogs in Santa Fe is artists, many of whom draw their inspiration from the scenic beauty around them.
So, actually there are three things you can’t avoid in Santa Fe — dogs, art and nature’s beauty. It — along with a climate sent from heaven — make it a highly liveable, and visitable, city. Beauty can be found in nearly every direction you look, from the Jemez Mountains to the west to the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, rising high to the southeast.
Speaking of rising high, there are actually four things you can’t avoid in Santa Fe — dogs, art, nature’s beauty and high prices. There’s no escaping high prices. Sooner or later, they will get you — or perhaps even stress you out.
If so, you can always visit a spa, because actually there are five things you can’t avoid in Santa Fe — dogs, art, nature’s beauty, high prices and spas. In town, on the edges of town, up in the mountains, there is an abundance of places to get wrapped, scrubbed, rubbed, boiled and oiled. I’m not sure who goes to all the spas, probably the same people that buy all the art and eat the high priced restaurant meals — namely tourists.
So that makes six things you can’t avoid in Santa Fe, if you count the tourists, who stay in hotels that, like all other structures in town, are made of adobe, which is the seventh thing you can’t avoid in Santa Fe — adobe. I’ve yet to see a house exterior of wood, brick or — heaven forbid — vinyl siding.
On top of those seven things, there are plenty of other things that can be found in abundance in Santa Fe– sunsets, rainbows, good food, opera, legends, history, crafts, and, my personal favorite, clouds.
Here’s my theory on the clouds, and why cooling afternoon showers are fairly common here. Clouds come in from the mountains, usually — like tourists — in a group. The clouds look down and like what they see — harmony, art, spirituality, pleasing terrain, disposable income, seekers, healers and art appreciators. And, being an art form themselves, the clouds decide to stay around a while — so that they may both appreciate and be appreciated.
In my five days here, I’ve noticed that, unlike clouds in most places, neither the big fluffy ones or the wispy flat ones — to use the scientific terms — seem to be moving, and, if they are, it’s imperceptibly slow. Instead, they seem to be lingering, hanging out, enjoying the view. Meantime, new clouds come in, and they decide to linger, too. And so on and so on, until there are so many clouds, elbowing each other for space in the formerly big blue sky, that they become entangled, much like the traffic downtown.
As a result of all that brushing up against each other, and moving into each others’ space, meteorological things begin to take place, and — not to get too technical — rain and wind result.
Sometimes, after that, you get rainbows. Sometimes, you don’t. That’s life, in Santa Fe.
(To read all of “Dog’s Country,” the continuing story of one man and one dog spending six months criss-crossing America, click here.)
Posted by John Woestendiek July 12th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace does america, adobe, animals, art, artists, beauty, clouds, dog parks, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, frank s. ortiz dog park, high prices, mountains, nature, new mexico, ohmidog!, pets, rainbows, road trip, santa fe, seven things you can't avoid in santa fe, spas, sunsets, tourists, traveling with pets
Baltimore artist Gil Jawetz — painter of dogs and more — is a finalist in this year’s Baker Artist Awards.
Jawetz, who is also designer of the ohmidog! website, has put together several exhibits of dog-related art, including “Human(e) Beings” a collection of oil paintings (and book) exploring the relationships between people and their pets.
The William G. Baker, Jr. Memorial Fund established the Baker Artist Awards to recognize Baltimore’s artists and engage the public in supporting their work.
Jawetz, after years of working in film and video, took up oil painting in 2004 with a class at New York City’s Art Students League. He moved to Baltimore the next year, working as a freelancer to devote more time to painting. His focus is on Impressionism and other styles of representational, figurative art that take the living form as a starting point for exploring colors, moods and emotions.
You can see more of his work, and vote for him, at Bakerartistawards.org.
You can also learn more about Jawetz and his art at his website, Buskerdog.com.
(Art: “Late Night, Lobby” by Gil Jawetz, 2008)
Posted by John Woestendiek January 25th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: art, artists, baker artist awards, baker awards, baltimore, book, buskerdog.com, collection, dog, dog art, dogs, exhibit, gil jawetz, humane(e) beings, memorial fund, oil, paintings, william g. baker