Sometimes you have to dig for inspiration
July 25, 2009 11:37 AM   Subscribe

Apes do it. Birds do it. Even educated elephants do it. But can a dog do it? Can a dog make art? Meet Tillamook Cheddar, an adorable Jack Russell Terrier who, after 19 solo shows, has made more than $100,000 in sales of paintings like these. (I believe she did not choose the titles.) Opinions on her work vary.

SAW Gallery's exhibit on animal art. (Any Ottawagonians seeing this?)

Previously. Previously.

Me, I'm open to ape art (some are more skeptical), have reservations about elephants, think the bower birds are doing something awesome that is mostly hardwired and partly inexplicable, but the dog may as well be a wind-up paintbrush for the artist owner who has carefully set up the media in advance. Her selected output is often really attractive (see: windup paintbrush), but that no more makes her an artist than her ability to roll in smelly stuff and lick herself thoroughly.
posted by maudlin (33 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
I agree that the dog is not an "artist." But I have no problem with accepting the works themselves as art. In this case it seems to me that the dog's owner is the artist who is using the dog precisely as a kind of "wind-up paintbrush." Fair enough.
posted by yoink at 11:41 AM on July 25, 2009


I was just watching Attenborough's bowerbirds special the other day actually, although I never really considered what they were doing "art." If it was then you'd have to acknowledge that all of human civilization is just a complicated attempt to get laid.
posted by palidor at 11:54 AM on July 25, 2009 [3 favorites]


Also, watching him observe bowerbirds or birds of paradise is like watching a little kid enraptured, I love it.
posted by palidor at 11:55 AM on July 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


"The most successful living animal painter."
-The Art Newspaper


That's like saying Dick Cheney is the "vilest living reptilian ex-Vice President".
posted by Benny Andajetz at 11:55 AM on July 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


...Tillie is wild about "drawing." When Hastie asks her, "Do you want to work?" she bounds after him. (from the National Geographic link, under Tillie's "media" page)

"Work" and "walk" sound strikingly similar to human ears; in my own household, I have to spell the word "walk" to keep my dog from going apeshit.

But then again, Tillamook's a Jack Russell. I don't think there's anything that doesn't excite them.
posted by Graygorey at 11:56 AM on July 25, 2009


*dips cat in paint, hurls at canvas*

Kitty? OH GOD KITTY WHAT HAVE I DONE
posted by BitterOldPunk at 11:58 AM on July 25, 2009 [5 favorites]


Art debate aside, Jack Russells are just too damn smart for comfort. As for training and obedience, they'll humor you up to a point.
posted by longsleeves at 12:04 PM on July 25, 2009


Sheep make a copy of the Mona Lisa (inter alia, with the help of some Welsh shepherds and LEDs. Marketing viral.)
posted by Abiezer at 12:06 PM on July 25, 2009


I have to spell the word "walk" to keep my dog from going apeshit.

My colleague has a dog that knows damn well what "w-a-l-k" and "b-a-t-h" mean.
posted by longsleeves at 12:07 PM on July 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


with the help of some Welsh shepherds and LEDs

And a nice powerful computer.
posted by yoink at 12:09 PM on July 25, 2009


I'm having a really hard time getting past the dogs name....tillamook cheddar??? that's just so.....cheesy (sorry)

I mean if you are going to name yr pet after cheese why not go for some esoteric fancyass french shit instead of mass-market produced cheese product? pathetic.
posted by supermedusa at 12:11 PM on July 25, 2009


If it was then you'd have to acknowledge that all of human civilization is just a complicated attempt to get laid.

does anyone dispute this?
posted by mdn at 12:14 PM on July 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


There's no future in artwork made by dogs.
posted by nervousfritz at 12:22 PM on July 25, 2009


"Work" and "walk" sound strikingly similar to human ears; in my own household, I have to spell the word "walk" to keep my dog from going apeshit.

Our JRT has a pretty extensive vocab. If Hastie regularly uses "work" then I doubt it's confusion.
Living with him is an exercise in overcoming a language barrier rather than a lack of smarts.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 12:33 PM on July 25, 2009


Metafilter: All of human civilization is just a complicated attempt to get laid.
posted by pravit at 12:43 PM on July 25, 2009


Metafilter: an exercise in overcoming a language barrier rather than a lack of smarts.
posted by jepler at 1:04 PM on July 25, 2009


I'd buy one. I'd even hang it.

(Assuming it was reasonably priced, i.e. it should be priced as an interesting and attractive novelty and not as art (which can be damn expensive).)
posted by oddman at 1:21 PM on July 25, 2009


On the internet, everyone knows the artist is a dog.
posted by found missing at 1:31 PM on July 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


palidor: "If it was then you'd have to acknowledge that all of human civilization is just a complicated attempt to get laid."

It's not?
posted by mwhybark at 2:00 PM on July 25, 2009


The artist's primary process is a dynamic color transfer technique. In preparation for each of Tillie's works, her assistants assemble a touch-sensitive recording device by affixing pigment-coated vellum to a sheet of lithograph paper backed by mat board. The artist takes the prepared "canvas" in her mouth and brings it to her workspace. Working on the outside surface, she applies pressure with teeth and claws in a methodic ritual marked by dramatic shifts in tempo and intensity. The resultant sharp and sweeping intersecting lines complement the artist's delicate paw prints and subtle tongue impressions, composing an expressionistic image that is revealed on the paper beneath when she is finished. She works with shocking intensity, sometimes to the point of destroying her creations.


lol
posted by memebake at 2:15 PM on July 25, 2009 [4 favorites]


photos of the artist at work
posted by memebake at 2:18 PM on July 25, 2009


I love that cheese too but whatever weirdo.
posted by Brocktoon at 2:23 PM on July 25, 2009


Also see: Pussy Doodles
posted by sir_rubixalot at 2:39 PM on July 25, 2009


LOLMODERNART, amirite?
posted by verb at 5:46 PM on July 25, 2009


mass-market produced cheese product

I take it you're not familiar with the Tillamook County Creamery Association. (The factory was a favorite stop on many of my childhood vacations. Ice cream!)
posted by liet at 6:17 PM on July 25, 2009


I'm so freaking tired of "art" that asks the question, "what is art?".
posted by Narin at 4:37 AM on July 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm way more impressed by the skateboarding bulldog.
posted by TheCoyote23 at 8:40 AM on July 26, 2009


I agree that the dog is not an "artist." But I have no problem with accepting the works themselves as art. In this case it seems to me that the dog's owner is the artist who is using the dog precisely as a kind of "wind-up paintbrush." Fair enough.

See, .e.g., Bill Anastasi's subway drawings -- blind drawings created by "chance". I doubt the dog's owner is thinking this way, but you never know.
posted by The Bellman at 11:29 AM on July 26, 2009


I'd have to see a video of the dog working... It's hard to tell from what I've seen whether the painting apes seem to be making ultimately arbitrary decision. The elephants, though, have me convinced. Sure, they were taught the basic procedure to paint a flower or elephant, but the differences from painting to painting look to me to be deliberate and arbitrary.

I realize this is dangerous anthropomorphizing, but so is art.

I'm so freaking tired of "art" that asks the question, "what is art?"

Art is nothing. You asked that.
posted by cmoj at 3:53 PM on July 26, 2009


I mean if you are going to name yr pet after cheese why not go for some esoteric fancyass french shit instead of mass-market produced cheese product

Why just french? Here Manchego. Good dog.
posted by Antidisestablishmentarianist at 6:09 PM on July 26, 2009


I'm so freaking tired of "art" that asks the question, "what is art?".

I think Tillamook Cheddar's art is asking the question "where is dinner?"
posted by yoink at 6:45 PM on July 26, 2009


I came here with an open mind, then I looked at the dog's paintings.
posted by IvoShandor at 11:09 PM on July 26, 2009


I'm just having trouble with the redundancy of the phrase "adorable Jack Russell". She's a Jack Russell. Of course she's adorable. And good on the owners for finding something to blunt her infinite energy. The fact that it's a "methodic ritual" that, um, looks a lot like digging probably has nothing to do with it. (They probably told her there was a fox inside the canvas; that'd do it.)

Why, yes, I do have a Jack Russell in the house, why do you ask?
posted by Michael Roberts at 9:52 PM on July 27, 2009


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