Archive for May, 2008

Red Dog

May 30, 2008

By now you may well know that I am a red dog. In my previous post you saw my picture, so you must know. There are some red dogs in art and today you get to see my favorite. It is by bay-area painter, Nathan Oliveira, who was born in Oakland, California and will turn 80 years old this year. Here it is:

Nathan Oliveira -- Red Dog -- 2000

Nathan Oliveira — Red Dog — 2000 (big)

Of course by now you know that if you want to see it properly you need to click on the word ‘big’ under the picture. Now that’s a dog!

Yours as usual,

Rita the dog


Two Videos

May 26, 2008

Context is everything. Surely this is some famous aphorism or something. Here you are, reading a dog’s blog (haven’t you anything better to do?), and you have very little idea about me or my life or my brothers and sisters. Yes there is that “about me” post and the “I am Rita the dog” post and there is the one called “Interlopers” which is about my dog siblings. So you can’t say I haven’t tried. But some of you are here just for the “dog art”, which is really a shame, since dogs are more important than art just as human lives are more important than art. And no art can convey the complexities and the subtleties of life. Art pales in the face of life. (Since I am a dog I should be able to slobber platitudes at will). Even more: I would never, ever, choose to be a human rather than a dog. For one thing you can’t smell. The entire world of art, the entire human visual world is a paltry smudge in comparison to the vastness and richness of my olfactory world. I know; I know. I shouldn’t talk down to my audience. Well perhaps you are the one human who realizes that the single greatest shortcoming of your human race is its olfactory deficit. I have seen humans walking their leashed dogs, pull them away from Picasso’s and Vermeer’s left by other dogs for them to find. I rest my case.

That said, I really feel no need to apologize that I know absolutely nothing about making videos. Neither my mom nor my dad do either. My dad told me there was an early twentieth century playwright, or maybe it was a director who so valued stage sets and ambiance that he put various odors on stage and in the theater to add some sense of reality to the show. That is a step in the right direction, but humans can’t really smell enough for it to make a difference. George Orwell (I bet you didn’t know his real name was Eric Arthur Blair) in 1949 wrote his prophetic book 1984, in which entertainment included both feelies and smellies — my dad told me — but I don’t remember the details. It didn’t come to pass. And then there was the woman, a performance artist, whose own nude body was the exhibit, the art for viewers to interact with. That was back in the 1960’s or 1970’s, before my time. I’ll let you be the judge whether that was a step in the right direction.

So, if you are to know me better, then here I am, naked and red as the day I was born:

me--Rita the dog

me–Rita the dog (big)

And here, should you want to understand the context of my life a little better, here are two silent videos of my siblings, including Louie, my feline sibling who I have heretofore not mentioned.

Cosi wants Louie


Giaco and Happy

Your faithful servant,

Rita the dog

Androgynous Acrobat

May 25, 2008

After Picasso’s friend Casagemas failed in love and committed suicide in 1901, Picasso, then 20 years old, struggled to come to terms with it. His ‘blue period’ of mostly melancholy bluish paintings began, and gradually gave way to the ‘rose period’, perhaps partly because of his meeting with Fernande Olivier, a married woman who was his first love and for a number years his mistress. That was in Barcelona around 1904, and it was shortly thereafter in 1905 that he painted “Boy with a Dog”, one of my favorite paintings and featured as the second image of my dad’s dog art post, here. In the same year he painted “Acrobat on a Ball” which is the next image:

Picasso--Acrobat with a Ball--1905

Picasso–Acrobat on a Ball–1905

Perhaps this version is a little faded. I don’t really know. There is a certain poignancy here –something between sad and happy, or maybe just slightly kinky–I’m not really sure. But I want to draw your attention to the ambiance, the background details. Look closely and you will see a young woman holding a baby to her shoulder and walking with a little girl. In the center in the distance is a white horse. My dad says that in art a disproportionate number of horses are white. I don’t know if he is right or not. After all, people believe lots of things they don’t know. Now look again near the woman with the little girl. That’s right, a dog! I’m happy there is a dog in this painting and I don’t know, but I believe it is the same dog that was in the other painting with the boy.

May your day be wonderful.

Rita the dog

Giacometti’s Tick

May 24, 2008

I mean my somewhat strange big brother, Giacometti, and not Alberto who might have had ticks and must have been at least a little strange if he thought his dog sculpture was a self-portrait. Giaco got this big, fat, round tick on his face just above his right eye. It was such a noteworthy tick that I thought the least I could do was share it with you. So here it is, fat, healthy, and happy feeding on Giaco:

Giaco's tick

Giacometti’s Tick (big)

My dad took that tick out and it was still healthy, head intact and all. Of course he tried to get photographs of it but he said it was a hard tick to photograph, I guess it moved too much or something. Anyway you will at least get the idea from this photo:

Tick at large

Tick at large (big)

Just in case your wondering what that surface is that he is on, it is one of my mom’s indexing books! I hope she will get over it. 🙂

Have a good day.

Rita the dog

My Dad’s Dog Art

May 23, 2008

Some of you may know that my dad also has a blog. It is called Cascada, which is kind of funny because he had no clue there was a female rock singer named Cascada, and so most of the hits he gets are from people looking for “Cascada naked”. I guess he called it Cascada because that is the Spanish word for waterfalls and we have a view of beautiful waterfalls from our front window.

Anyway, when I told him I was starting this blog and I wanted to do all the doggy stuff here, including the dog art, he was OK with it. In fact he said he would help me. So this little post is just to let you know that in the future all dog art will be here and not in Cascada.

But the past cannot be changed, so if you want the complete picture, you can check out the the two dog art posts over on my dad’s blog. The first is called “cascada post 24: Dog Art” and you can see it by clicking here. The second post over on my dad’s blog about dog art is called simply “More Dog Art” and you can see it by clicking here.

So that’s it. All future dog art posts will be in this blog and not in Cascada.

All the best.

Rita the dog.

Dog Portraits

May 23, 2008

In my increasingly vast collection of dog-art there are only about 80 images that might be called “dog portraits”. The rest have dogs, to use movie terminology, as extras. Today I will share with you some of the portraits. The first is by French Impressionist painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841–1919), whose self-portrait when he was about 35 years old is just below:

Renoir self-portrait 1875
Renoir–Self-Portrait–about 1875


Now Renoir painted lots of things, but I’ll bet you didn’t know he painted a portrait of a dog. Here it is:

Head of a Dog -- Renoir -- 1870
Renoir–Head of a Dog–1870 (big)


Next is an etching done by Simon de Vlieger (1601-1653), a seventeenth century Dutch designer, draughtsman, and painter, most famous for his marine paintings. Although this etching is called “Two Greyhounds” there is a third pooch in the background who looks a little like me.

Simon de Vlieger--Two Greyhounds--1610
Simon de Vlieger–Two Greyhounds–1610 (big)


The next dog-art image is by Gerrit Dou (1613-1675), master Dutch painter in the age of Rembrandt. In fact, at age 15 he became Rembrandt’s first pupil, at a time when Rembrandt himself was still a teenager. His fame was certainly due to his own achievements, his meticulous technique and his illusionistic effects. Here is one of his self-portraits:

Gerrit Dou -- self-portraitGerrit Dou–self-portrait–no date


And here is the beautiful painting of a sleeping dog that Gerrit Dou created in 1650:

A Sleeping Dog Beside a Terracotta Jug, a Basket, and a Pile of Kindling Wood--Gerrit Dou--1650Gerrit Dou–A Sleeping Dog–1650 (big)


Moving forward in time to the nineteenth century, we come to the French artist Nicolas Toussaint Charlet (1792-1845), known especially for his numerous (over 2000) lithographs, many of military subjects. He also did water-colors, sepia-drawings, numerous oil sketches — and this wonderful portrait of a dog:

Nicolas Toussaint Charlet--Head of a Dog--1820Nicolas Toussaint Charlet–Head of a Dog–1820 (big)


For your last dog-art treat of the day I have selected an engraving of the nineteenth century English artist, Sir Edwin Henry Landseer (1802-1873), who is well known for paintings of dogs and other animals. Click here to read more about him in what is a pretty interesting article in wikipedia. Here is the picture:

Sir Edwin Henry Landseer--The Twa Dogs--1858Sir Edwin Henry Landseer–The Twa Dogs–1858 (big)


I am, as usual, yours truly,

Rita the dog

Old Dogs

May 21, 2008

In my ever-growing collection of dog-art are a few photographs, some quite old. It is a motley lot all of which came from the internet, some years ago and some more recently. You can see them all here today. The first was posted to usenet and is anonymous. All I know is the file name which appears under the photo. Possibly it is in France and would appear to be quite old. The people look really happy and just slightly mischievous to pose with their dog. Here it is:



The next photo dates to 1852 and is from some archive in California.

Dog owned by Sheldon Nichols -- 1852

Dog owned by Sheldon Nichols — 1852

Click on the image to see it bigger (and better).

The next image dates to 1925 and the dog is perhaps the original movie dog, Rin Tin Tin. I snagged in from a family archive. Here it is:

Edward A. Bellande with Rin Tin Tin -- 1925

Edward A. Bellande with Rin Tin Tin — 1925

Next is an image of a dog named Bum about to get a doughnut. This image comes from the San Diego Historical Society and dates to the year 1900.

Bum bums -- 1900

Bum bums — 1900

The next photo dates to 1910 and shows dogs on the deck of the Roosevelt, which was the boat of Peary’s North Pole expedition. It came from the book by Robert E. Peary called, The North Pole — Its Discovery in 1909 under the auspices of the Peary Arctic Club, which is available online from the Gutenberg Project, here.

North Pole Dogs

Scene on the Roosevelt — 1910

Apparently 100’s of dogs went on that expedition. I don’t know how many returned nor how many (if any) got eaten.

Next comes an early photo of the Dutch photographer Richard Tepe (1864-1952) who posthumously became a prominent figure in Dutch nature photography. This photo is supposed to date to the year 1900 (dogs have their doubts).

Man with Dog

Man with Dog–Richard Tepe–1900

As usual click on the image to see it better, i.e. larger.

Next is a photo by German born fashion photographer, Helmut Newton (1920-2004), known for fashion and nudes illustrating themes of mass media, glamor, sex, and theater. This image smacks of California but is actually Miami, Florida, dating to 1992. Enjoy this strange picture which came from usenet:

Miami scene--by Helmut Newton--1992

A Scene in Miami–Helmut Newton–1992

Last comes a contemporary photo by the Russian photographer Gregori Maiofis who was born in 1970 in St. Petersburg. The image itself comes from the Center for Photographic Art in Carmel, California where you can find more art photography. Here is the photo:


Gregori Maiofis–adversity makes strange bedfellows–2005-2006

I’m not completely sure the ‘bedfellow’ is a dog — but close enough for this cur.

I am, as usual, yours truly,

Rita the dog

In the Dumps

May 19, 2008

When my dad left last week I told him I would continue this blog while he was gone. That seemed to make him happy. But even as he was saying goodbye I was beginning to realize it wouldn’t happen. He went to this green place called Las Cañadas to learn all about bamboo. Why he wants to learn about bamboo is beyond me and to make matters worse they only serve vegetarian food. As a dog that is totally unnatural, but my dad said it was a small price to pay for learning about bamboo. The thing that really got me, though, was that I didn’t know how long he would be gone, or even if he would return at all. That’s the thing people don’t realize. When they go away and leave their dogs alone, those dogs don’t know if they will be alone for an hour, a day, a week, or forever. Maybe I will never see him again was all I could think. I like to call it the great transgenic communication barrier. There is this man in Xalapa who claims to be able to communicate with his dog telepathically. Maybe its true. But you have to be just a little skeptical–we dogs are really good at picking up subtle cues, and humans are really good at inventing extra-rational explanations.

The long and short of it (I like that expression) is that I really missed my dad and as his absence dragged on past the first night I gradually fell into a kind of funk, and it wouldn’t let go of me enough to write this blog. So thats why, and I know its a little weak, but that’s easy for you humans to think. You with your facile, intrepid tongues find it hard that I could not know my dad would only be gone five days.

As you may have guessed, I am not quite back on track yet. It didn’t help that when my dad finally did return and I rushed to greet him, the other dogs attacked me mercilessly, I guess because they wanted to be the ones to jump on him first. Giaco really bit me hard and when I yelped Cosi bit me too. My joie de vivre has been a bit dampened. Our recent rains haven’t helped either.

I tried to tell my dad I was down in the dumps but instead of the sympathy I thought I deserved he started talking about how lots of dogs in Coahuila ate out of dumpsters. Then he got into this strange harangue about how in prehistoric times wild dogs ate the offal that humans discarded and threw into the streets, and how humans put up with this at least when those wild dogs weren’t too vicious, and how only those that were friendly and fawning survived to whelp out pups, which of course were similar to their parents. He said this was an example of co-evolution and explained how dogs got to be man’s best friend. What a crock. But hey, what do I know, I’m only a dog.

I’m sorry, but only a little, to make you wade through all this dialetheistic rambling before getting to the dog art treats, but as I may have said before, you can always skip the preface and jump to the meat.

This first example is more than rotten. It is disgusting and reprehensible. It seems that a Costa Rican artist (or former artist; he is no artist for me), whose name I refuse to give, decided to starve a dog to death as a piece of performance art. He took the dog, who was wandering the streets and already hungry, tied it on a short leash in the corner of a gallery room, and left it without food and without water, to slowly die. People walking through the gallery could view this ‘piece of art’. Here is that sad dog:

dog starved to death in the name of art

Dog starved to death in the name of art

Wake up, humans, this is NOT art. Art has reasonable limits and in the last few decades those limits have been crossed too many times.

Next, let me mention Ari Folman’s “Waltz With Bashir” , a 2008 Cannes animated documentary dealing with the horrors of war, specifically with the 1982 massacre at the Sabra and Shatila Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon. Surely we need more films that depict the horrors of war and fewer that depict it as heroic or patriotic. Neither do I have a problem with a film which shows a former Israeli soldier trying to reconstruct lost memories caused by the post traumatic stress of his involvement and experience in this terrible event.

Find the Dog

May 9, 2008

This evening I am dog-tired, mostly because my mom and dad took us four dogs on another exciting walk on back roads south of Xico, of which there are many. It was hot but we found water in a cattle watering tank in a field so I didn’t get dehydrated, although I did get nudged in the rear by a curious cow when I wasn’t looking. Trying to keep up with my younger sisters is really a challenge, and I may have overdone it. My mom says I am really 10 years old now, not 9 as I thought and mentioned before. In human years that means I’m pushing 70, pretty old to be out there running with the upstarts. By the way, I’m thinking of expanding that Xico article on wikipedia. I bet I’ll be the first dog-author on wikipedia if I do. Don’t tell anyone or they might not let me.

So, on account of my tiredness I will just show you one picture, and your job is to find the dog in the picture. Most humans have a hard time, but for me, being a dog, it was VERY easy. You might need to click on the picture to enlarge it. My dad says he got this image somewhere on the internet back in 2001 (because that is the date on the picture), but he doesn’t remember where. Here it is:

Find the dog

So I hope that wasn’t too hard and maybe amused you a little.

Till next time, I am yours truly,

Rita the dog

Grapes and Dogs

May 8, 2008

Last night my dad and I had a heart-to-heart. It seems he is tired of all the paw-holding he has to do when I am on the internet. Mind you I’m good at finding stuff on the internet; I can google with the best of ’em. Its the ctrl-key, the alt-key, the shift-key, everything that makes me put two paws on the keyboard at once. You have to imagine  me sitting on this blue plastic stool, trying to type. Hunt and peck is OK but I tend to loose my balance–I have to really lean back on my tail every time I have to capitalize a letter. My dad doesn’t like to use that blue stool after I’ve been on the internet a while. He said I should just pretend I’m a Unix guru because they never use the shift key–it’s a point of honor with them–and then I wouldn’t have to lean back on my tail to keep from losing my balance.

Its tough being a dog. Not a single dog has commented on my blog. It’s hard not to take it personally.

So then he says, “why not use the caps-lock key” and pretend your one of those all-capital-letters internet people, who apparently think they are computer-savvy because they remember that’s how it was done in 1960. Give me a break. So now he’s looking over my shoulder and saying savvy is related to the Spanish word ‘saber’ which means ‘to know’ and maybe I should put that in my blog to make it more interesting. What does he know? He wants me to be more independent and he looks over my shoulder. Go figure.

Hey, have you ever contemplated a dog grasping a mouse? Just take a moment to try. See what I mean? Its next to impossible. I’ve chased mice before and Louie, he’s my cat-brother, has caught a few. He likes to play with them till they stop moving. I don’t think he’s my real brother, but my dad says we are all family and he IS my brother.

So then my dad hands me this giant folder with over 700 dog-art images and he says, “its your baby, I’m not doing dog-art anymore”. Hey, that’s OK by me. I like dog-art. “Fine by me”, I say, “I’ll do all the dog-art on this blog and you do whatever it is you do over on your blog”. He didn’t like the tone of that, but we agreed, so from now on that’s how it will be.

I’m sorry for that inordinately long preamble. You could have skipped it if all you wanted was dog-art. That brings me to today’s topic: grapes and dogs. Here’s how it happened. It seems that one day back in Texas my dad was couch-potatoing watching TV and eating raisins and this neighbor drops by and starts talking and by-the-by she says “did you know that raisins kill dogs”. “Never heard of such a thing”, my dad says and right there he hands me a raisin and I chow it right down. I guess I was lucky ’cause I didn’t die. Maybe you have to eat a bunch of raisins.

Later my dad checked it out and said “its true, raisins DO kill dogs, and grapes too”. These days he doesn’t give me or the interlopers (that’s my sibling if you’ve just tuned in) raisins or grapes any more.

That’s how I started thinking about ‘still-life with dogs’–you know–art pictures with a big bowl of fruit and also a dog. OK, you skeptics, here you go:

Dog with Grapes--Ferdinand Waldmuller--1836

Dog with Grapes–Waldmüller–1836

Don’t be afraid–go ahead and click on it–its not a big file and you’ll see it lots better. Can you imagine how much time it took to paint each and everyone of those grapes? He did a good job on the dog too, don’t you think? This picture was painted by the Austrian artist Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller (1793-1865).

Now some of you may be thinking “just because you found one still-life with a dog doesn’t mean you have to write a whole blog article about it”. Oh ye of little faith. Here is another:

Pronkstilleven with dog and parrot

Pronkstilleven with Dog and Parrot

This painting (just above) is by Baroque era Flemish painter, David de Coninck (ca. 1646-1701). The fruit would have been considered luxury fruit in Belgium at that time. A pronkstilleven is an exotic still-life. Most dogs don’t know that. The dog pictured is surely (and rightly so) more interested in the parrot than in the fruit. Be sure to click on the image so you can see it better. Oh, by the way, the painting as well as the original of the digital image above came from the Abraham Bredius Museum in The Hague, Netherlands.

I have two more dog-art still-lifes for you. The next one is housed in The State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg, Russia and is by the French Baroque era painter, Alexandre-François Desportes (1661-1743). Here it is:

Still Life with dead hare and fruit

Still Live with Dead Hare and Fruit–1711

Notice also the butterfly and in the background a horse and rider with dogs trailing behind it. You might have to click on the image to make it bigger.

The last image (just below), although it has no grapes, is especially appropriate for this post because it is entitled “The Month of May”. It was painted somewhere between 1640 and 1645 by Spanish artist Francisco Barrera (1595-1658). Here it is:

Francisco Barrera--the month of May--1640-45

The Month of May

Be sure to click on the image so you can see it properly, and if you know what that white thing is on the right-hand platter, please comment so I and others can also know. The painting is housed at the Slovak National Gallery, Bratislava. Probably I snagged the image from The Web Gallery of Art.

I hope you appreciated today’s dog-art, and those dogs of the past who sat still in spite of their nature so that we could all have these still-life images to enjoy.

Yours as always,

Rita the dog