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Man's best friend soaks up the spotlight at this canine-friendly gallery.
There are plenty of models at this party, and not surprisingly, none of them will talk to me. This could be because they’re all dogs, but I think the more likely explanation is that they’ve gotten a little full of themselves since artist Kris Robinson based her first solo gallery on their inspirational visages.
Fame doesn’t only change people, apparently.
Nyree Hazelton Arts Inc.
2652 Arbutus Street, Vancouver
The opening night party for A Celebration of Dogs is packed with well-wishers of both the two and four-legged variety. Everyone is mingling, chatting, laughing, and in some cases, sniffing each other excitedly.
No one is more active than the artist herself: Robinson takes photos with her canine muses and accepts congratulatory hugs from fellow sapiens at a whirlwind pace.
Artist Kris Robinson poses with her model. Proceeds from her husky portrait, “Hero”, will benefit animal rights charities. (Image: Kris Robinson Studios)
There are no poker-playing pups on the canvas here—just bright, graphic paintings with the cheek of Warhol and the smooth colour-blocking of vector art.
“I’ve always painted this way. I see a photograph as a series of shapes. Each shape has a colour. That’s how I paint, ” explains Robinson, gesturing to a portrait of a noble Weimeraner created from blocks of blues and greys. Though the paintings look simplistic, it’s an illusion: each piece takes Robinson around 100 hours to complete. “This show has been about a year in the making.”
Animal-lover Robinson studied at the Ontario College of Art and Design and then headed to Scotland for her Masters in design from Dundee University. Back home in Canada, she moved into an apartment with a strict ‘no pets’ policy, so she put her training into action and painted the dogs she wanted so badly.
A noble dog deserves a noble portrait: Kris Robinson goes through dozens of photos to find the best pose to capture the pup’s spirit. (Kris Robinson Studios)
It may have worked out for the best: after all, a painting is much easier to clean up after than a real dog, and the risk of contracting rabies is practically non-existent. Plus, she’s made a little money doing it: pet-owners started commissioning her for puppy portraits of their very own.
“Painting dogs is such a tremendous joy for me, I’m happy I can make people feel the same,” Robinson says.
They like dogs on the walls, sure, but Nyree Hazelton Arts also welcomes canine visitors. (Image: Kris Robinson Studios)
She’s also giving back to the community something more than warm-fuzzy feelings: she’ll be handing over cash. Deeply affected by the culling of Whistler sled dogs last year, Robinson produced a painting of a heroic Husky against a dark West Coast sky, and she’ll be donating partial proceeds from the original and prints to select animal welfare charities.
My own dog died this last summer, so I am in the perfect mindset to enjoy an art gallery full of dogs and dog paintings. Dogs on the floor? Dogs on the wall? I’m into it. More dogs! More!
Luckily, I can get unlimited puppy love for the next few months, as A Celebration of Dogs runs at Nyree Hazelton Arts (which is, unsurprisingly, a pet-friendly gallery) until January 6, 2012.