PETS, Joellen Smith

PETS, Joellen Smith, A Yam and His Dog, drawing with digital media, Off the Wall Gallery

PETS, Off the Wall Gallery at Dirty Frank’s

“My submission is an abstract take on a very commonplace sight. Half for the love of those wonderful sightings, where owner and dog look alike, and half for the love of puns. This piece celebrates the bond funny people have with their funny furry friends.” – Joellen Smith

PETS is Off the Wall Gallery‘s 11th annual juried art show. Last year I won the Mary Rowe Memorial Prize, this year I was asked to be a member of the jury. You can read about my winning artwork in a recent Plaza Art Blog interview. Being part of the jury is a unique experience, it’s very time consuming but engrossing, with five artists and collectors literally giving thumbs up or thumbs down to hundreds of images to start the process. Off the Wall Gallery makes every effort to give each artist an opportunity to be represented on the wall, Togo Travalia is a trove of info about local artists and Jody Sweitzer doesn’t hesitate to encourage talented artists to bring their best efforts.

Entries are submitted digitally along with a statement about the artwork. The team goes through every entry as Togo reads the statements and we get an overall view, a checklist is used for each jurors favorites, and then we go through all the images again. Sometimes there is a discussion between the jurors if the majority rule doesn’t work, or if a statement is ambiguous, or the image needed explanation. When the artwork is reviewed the images are all the same size, even though we know the actual size, the artwork must deliver it’s message relating to the theme on it’s own merits and a good artist statement helps with decision making.

PETS, Matt Cohen

PETSMatt Cohen, Leeland, digital photograph, Off the Wall Gallery

Matt Cohen has two photographs in PETS. It’s hard to explain how one artist gets multiple works in a juried show and others don’t get a spot. Group think through process finds a path of least resistance. The resulting exhibition has a tone, black and white images are grouped, the main wall is filled with a collection of warm hearted artworks about dogs, cats, fish, even goats. In the display case is a delightful collection of found object assemblages by Bob Jackson. Bob entered twenty-three artworks, quirky pet portraits, so the jury accepted the lot as one and dedicated the case mostly to Philly’s favorite art influencer.

One of the cool things about this show is the number of great photographs. Matt Cohen captures a meta-magical connection between dogs and people. When a dog trusts you enough to communicate with their eyes it’s a breakthrough in feelings of love and comfort that’s hard to explain in words.

“Researchers found that the owners whose dogs stared at them the longest had the highest oxytocin levels. Moreover, the oxytocin levels of owners and dogs were correlated: If an owner had high levels after they interacted, the dog likely did too.” – QUARTZ

“Dogs make wonderful photographic subjects because they express their feelings quite openly and without any apparent self-consciousness. I endeavor to catch a range of canine emotions in my photographs.” – Matt Cohen on Flickr

PETS, DoN Brewer

PETS, Lady Doofus, DoN Brewer, digital photograph, Photoshop filters, inkjet print, 14″ x 20″

For the record I was planning to enter the show before I was asked to be on the jury. When the prospectus came out this was the first image that came to mind, Lady Doofus was an amazingly sophisticated creature, people still ask me where she is. When I found the picture it wasn’t as clear as I remembered so I used the poor focus as a jumping off point to work with Photoshop adding transparent layers of pencil, paint, and sharpness filters. In my opinion the print turned out better than I thought it would, and my framing is getting better, but my artist statement does go on a little long. Several of the other jurors have work in the show, you have to leave the room when they discuss, hearing Togo read my words out loud was poignant, I’m grateful for their decision.

“When Larry Angel drowned while swimming at the gym, I inherited his dog Lady Doofus, the St. Bernard/Chihuahua mix. I always said I missed Doofie more than him after we broke up, and then a day came that I learned of his death with a desperate phone call, Lady Doofus refused to get out of the car for the police and they were going to destroy her. I decided on the spot to adopt her and when she saw Katy the Art Dog in the gym parking lot she understood, reluctantly abandoned defending Larry’s car and left the Pine Barrens to retire in Philadelphia. This photograph of Doofus and Larry was captured while hiking Mount Speck in Maine, Summer 2006.” – DoN Brewer

Written by DoN Brewer except where noted. Images courtesy Off the Wall Gallery

Read DoN Brewer‘s review of Alyse C. Bernstein’s Frank on DoNArTNeWs

Read the PETS press release on DoNArTNeWs

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