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Arts and Entertainment

Dog art saves pets

Brenda Macon

“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.” – Josh Billings

It has been said that all art is therapy. What if therapy isn’t just good for people, but for dogs as well? Last week, the DAC’s visual art department collaborated with the La Plata County Humane Society to pioneer a new art program: Figure Drawing the Dynamic Dogs of Durango. The purpose is twofold: to help people approach the K-9 figure and learn how to draw; and to help these amazing animals find a forever home. Classes will be offered monthly on Saturdays from 1 to 2:30 p.m. beginning in November. You’re invited, and all supplies, gentle instruction, inspiration and laughter are provided. Combining art and dogs? Yes, please.

This is not your typical art class. You walk into the gallery to soft classical music. There are dogs of different sizes sitting pretty on soft blankets, a half circle of easels set up around them. Deena Carney, instructor extraordinaire, is quietly offering suggestions to the students to pay attention to the finer points such as the angle of the nose or the shape of the torso.

“We get to know our models very well,” she said. “We sit on the floor and the dogs are so happy to be with us. We touch their fur and find their muscles, and discover that the proportions remain constant between a pit bull and a Chihuahua. These dogs love the attention, are socialized and ready for adoption. They behave so well and are just full of love.”

Carney is passionate about helping people find inspiring creative outlets and helping people who want to be responsible pet owners. She lives on a farm and takes care of dogs, horses, cows, donkeys and two very elegant siamese cats. These may be the luckiest animals on the planet. Her farm reminds me a little of a Disney cartoon – every animal has a humanlike expression and they seem to communicate with people very well. Clearly, they’re used to being appreciated and heard.

There’s a saying in art: “When you change the way you look at something, the thing you look at changes.” Upon keen observation of a dog, you feel a pull toward the secret life of these silent observers. The richness and emotion in their eyes, the grace of their noble postures and the protectiveness that is their second nature are all mesmerizing characteristics. It’s arguable that not one human advance in the past several thousand years would have been possible without the domestication of dogs, and I think they know this, too. The deep and profound connection between people and animals is undeniable.

Like the DAC, the Humane Society is a privately run nonprofit. It’s well established and helps find forever homes for more than 3,500 animals a year. Good deeds are never easily done, and we are honored to partner in finding new and inspiring ways to connect people to dogs through art. At this very moment, there are 28 dogs ready for adoption at LPHS. Foster homes are always needed, and there’s a special animal waiting just for you. Please be ready to tip your models when attending this class. They prefer Milk-Bones.

In the theater
  • Adult Improv Showcase Class: Show date Oct. 20.
  • 13th Annual 10 Minute Play Festival: 7:30 p.m. Oct. 13-14; 2 p.m. Oct. 15. $10/$15.
  • Silent Sundays with Swanson: 2 p.m. Oct. 22. $10/$15.
  • Rocky Horror Show: 7 p.m. Oct. 27-29, 31, Nov. 3-5; 10 p.m. Oct. 28 and Nov. 4. $25.
Art classes and gallery events
  • The Night Gallery, opening reception: 5-7 p.m. Oct. 6, Barbara Conrad Gallery. Exhibit runs through Nov. 4. Free.
  • Pots & Pints: Oct. 13. Theme is “Monster Mugs.” $35/person.
  • Call to Artists for submissions: The Gift Gallery holiday exhibit. See website to submit work. Begins Nov. 10, ends Jan. 8.
  • Artisan’s Market: Open noon-6 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday.
  • Adult and youth art and theater classes fall online registrations now open.

Email info@durangoarts.org Buy tickets, donate, become a member and register for classes at DurangoArts.org.

Brenda Macon has been executive director of Durango Arts Center since 2018.