Island Packet — The dog we had while I was growing up was a scatterbrained, overcaffeinated Ewok named Cutty who had thick black fur, dragon breath and what could be generously described as scant bladder control. (Seriously, loved her, but the downstairs carpet was like a minefield of long-dried puddles. If I ever had a girl over, it would have been a problem. It was generally not a problem.)
Cutty could do a lot of things: She could smile on command, she could catch mice and she could consume an entire box of 12 chocolate Santas in one sitting, although the rest of that particular evening is something I’d like to forget.
But for all her positive traits, Cutty was a really lousy painter.
I bring this up because according to The Media, in recent months a fair number of human people have enjoyed some degree of financial gain selling art that has been created by dogs, in those rare moments that said dogs are not pulling Timmy out of the well or hosing down my yard.
Now, before we go further, and I’m no art critic or anything, but have you ever actually seen dog art? LAME. First of all, it’s so repetitive — it’s like, OK, we get it, you like kibbles. Second, and I don’t know about you, but I like my paintings to not be covered in meaty slobber. Thirdly, the dogs’ overindulgent reliance on pointillism is clearly intended as an homage to Seurat, but the thematic disparities trivialize the subject matter by creating a distinct loss of structure. (Don’t believe me? Go check out “Post-Impressionism: From Van Gogh To Gauguin.” It came highly recommended by my neighbor’s husky, Muffins.)
From what I can gather by scanning quickly through this dog-art story while drinking wine, people make their dogs paint for a number of reasons, which I will now make up:
- Dog art smells like sausage.
- The art-buying community evidently believes that we’ve reached the absolute zenith of human artistic achievement. Personally I believe this happened with Huey Lewis and the News’ 1982 album, “Sports,” but what do I know.
- Dogs that can paint, while not quite as awesome as dogs that can play poker, are still pretty cool. Mary Stadelbacher, a painting dog trainer from Salisbury, Md., which is one of the leading mid-sized dog-painter-training cities in all of Maryland, sells greeting cards featuring images painted by her three dogs. “Go paint, Sammy!” she’ll instruct her mixed-breed, who then uses a combination of watercolor brushes, palette knives and color shapers to create a replica of Monet’s “Rue Montorgueil,” which itself was oh come on, it’s a dog, it chomps a bone that has a paintbrush stuck in it.
Don’t believe me? Again? Well, you should first note that proceeds from the paintings are going to train rescue dogs to assist those with disabilities. So, yeah. Keep making fun.
But it helps explain this quote given by Sandy Waller of Salisbury to the Associated Press: “There are people who make a lot of money to make paintings that aren’t as intriguing as what these dogs have done,” said Waller, who paid $350 for Sammy’s work. $350! That would have almost paid for the cleaning process required by the explosive aftermath of Cutty’s chocolate-Santa fiasco.
“They have some real nice accidental results to them,” Linda Shipp, curator of the art galleries at Salisbury University, told the Associated Press. “They’re unique. People can say, ‘I have something no one else has. I have a painting by a dog.’” Similarly, I have a drawing by my son that is a train which contains a spaceship which contains another train and, unless I am mistaken, one of the hamsters from “G-Force.” I’m selling it for $47,500. To sweeten the deal, I’ll throw in a copy of “Sports.”