The Portraitsphere: Unchained

Princess1

Remember the Portraitsphere, where all manner of media is used to capture a canine likeness? A while back I came across these incredible life-size sculptures of dogs made from used bicycle parts. The artist is Israel-based Nirit Levav and I think her series Unchained is amazing. It’s another example of art that uses found materials, similar to the work by Sculptor Jonathan Bowling where the final piece transcends the materials.

12.Saluki

She really captures the essence of a dog in her work. I think it takes some extraordinary vision to create something so refined from a bunch of old bicycle chains and other junky parts. Here is what Nirit has to say about her work:

“Chains are rather versatile; it is a material which can be very soft and flexible or very stiff, long or short. As for the dogs–there are so many species and breeds, and each one of them looks so different and allows numerous possibilities for creation. There is a wide range of shapes, heights and textures that characterize dogs, unlike other animals. Take the elephant for example–they all look sort of the same. Furthermore, it is definitely my favorite animal. Dogs speak with human beings without actual words.”

I think she’s right about the versatility of the bicycle chains, but still…who could imagine they’d convey a sense of fluffiness in the end? Or sleekness? Or dogginess? But in her hands they certainly do…

Lola

Koka

Maxine

If you would like to see more examples of her work or commission your own glorious bicycle-ish sculpture, you can visit her website here.

All photos from unchaineddogs.com.

Erica Preo is CEO & Creative Director of Pantofola, pure luxury Italian goods for dogs.

Hachikō and the Professor Together Again

New Hachiko and Professor Ueno Sculpture

There’s a brand new statue of Hachikō, but this one is even better because in it he is reunited once again with his master Professor Ueno. It captures such a happy moment, the one that was repeated each day at the train platform when the professor returned from his day at the university…until the very sad day when he suddenly passed away. That day marked the beginning of nine years that Hachikō continued to wait without fail.

Detail shots of the new Hachiko and Professor Ueno statue in Japan

I think this new statue is super, because this is what we all wanted to see…the two together. Even as an artist’s interpretation, it’s exactly as it should be: bright smiles, kind eyes upon each other, a briefcase set down while Professor Ueno’s complete attention is given to faithful Hachikō before beginning the walk home from the station. Captured in bronze, it crystallizes the moment and triumphs the sad solo Hachikō.

Hachiko and Professor Ueno statue in Japan

If you’d like to visit the new Hachikō statue, you can find it at The University of Tokyo campus for the Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences/Faculty of Agriculture, website here.

Photos courtesy and original story from Rocket News 24 can be found here.

Erica Preo is CEO & Creative Director of Pantofola, pure luxury Italian goods for dogs.

What I Did Last Summer

Pantofola luxury dog collars, Collezione Caramelle

Okay, the subject of this post is a little misleading…it was more than just last summer. And more than the summer before, actually it’s been lots of summers. Because it takes a long time to get something perfect, and that was my mission. But I chose to name this post “What I Did Last Summer” because it’s my first post since June of last year. Good grief!

If you’ve ever read my About page, you know that I’ve been working on launching my own line of luxury dog accessories called Pantofola that are made in Italy. So I travel there a few times each year, attending leather trade fairs, meeting with factories, flying around in a Fiat 500 (or enduring rail strikes), having good coffee, and taking pictures of dogs that I come across. For some time now I’ve been “that crazy American lady making dog collars” everywhere I go. Last summer I made three separate trips to London and one to Milan, and just a few days ago my website launched…hooray!!

Handsome doxie wearing Pantofola Mezzanotte collar in Luna

We have handsome collars for the little guys, and of course the not-so-little guys.

Black Lab wearing Pantofola Caramelle collar in Cielo

A very important aspect of Pantofola is to donate a minimum of 10% of our profits to dog rescue organizations around the world. Here in the US, we’ll choose an organization each quarter and make their day with a surprise gift. For sales outside of the United States, we’re donating to London-based Dogs Trust. They are a wonderful charity organization with a long track record going back to 1891, and their promise is never to destroy a healthy dog. In addition to rehoming dogs through their 20 centers in the UK (almost 15,000 just last year!), they go beyond their borders to train veterinarians in remote parts of the world where none exist, and they work to eradicate rabies in developing countries. I’m working on a separate post about our partnership, but in the meantime you can find more information about them here on their website.

Until next time…

Lhasa in Pantofola Caramelle collar in Liquirizia

 

Erica Preo is CEO & Creative Director of Pantofola, pure luxury Italian goods for dogs.

All images copyright Pantofola, Inc. / Dog photos also protected under separate copyright Amanda Jones Photography.

 

The Portraitsphere : Kids Against Lab Beagles

"Louie" by Kat

It’s time to venture into The Portraitsphere once again, and this time we’re off to Pasadena to visit the world of a cool kid named Kat. But before we leave on this journey, I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to all of the talented people on this planet who choose to “use their power for good”, because that’s the theme for today. Let’s go!

Kat is an 11-year-old kid who loves beagles and she has one named Bentley. She put a beagle on the top of her Christmas list one year and her parents agreed that if she’d do enough research about them in advance, she could get one. Somewhere along that path, Kat discovered the horrific reality of laboratories that keep beagles in cages and force them to spend their lives suffering and enduring constant torture and pain in sadistic tests. Now to me, the fact that an innocent child full of excitement about adopting a rescue beagle for Christmas stumbles upon this cruel practice just adds another sad dimension.

But Kat was clever and she knew just what to do. She has talent, lots of it, and she’s using it for good. She’s an artist, and she paints — what else — beagles! She sells her paintings on her own website and donates 100% of the proceeds to an organization called The Beagle Freedom Project. I just bought this watercolor, titled Lola —

Lola watercolor by Kat

— and there are so many others —

Paintings by Kat

She loves painting, and she does as many as she can in between all of her other activities and school. Her parents underwrite the cost of her materials and manage her sales, so she’s free to paint up a storm. She churns out paintings based on beagles she knows but she will also create custom portraits. There are also lots of items available here on Zazzle.com featuring her beautiful paintings, including a 2014 calendar that I recently ordered as a gift. Proceeds from these products also go to support The Beagle Freedom Project.

And here, of course, is a photo of the artist with her pal Bentley when they brought him home (I think she loves him) —

Kat and Bentley

If you would like to check out Kat’s paintings and make contact for getting one of your own (she’s spending extra time over the holidays beefing up her inventory!), please visit her website Kids Against Lab Beagles here.

For more information about The Beagle Freedom Project, visit their website here.

All images courtesy of the artist.

Erica Preo is CEO & Creative Director of Pantofola, pure luxury Italian goods for dogs.

Typographic Tuesday : Mary Oliver #2

mary oliver and chappie

It’s Typographic Tuesday, and today’s post is from Mary Oliver’s popular new book Dog Songs. This would be another fantastic gift for someone, it’s here on Amazon. My copy just arrived, so here’s the sweet cover:

Dog Songs by Mary Oliver

 

Erica Preo is CEO & Creative Director of Pantofola, pure luxury Italian goods for dogs.

Hachikō visits Montréal

Hachiko in Montreal

The Mosaïcultures Internationales de Montréal 2013 is taking place this summer at the Montréal Botanical Gardens and I’m so glad someone had the brilliant idea to create who else but—Hachikō! If you’re not familiar with this event, it’s similar to Pasadena’s Rose Parade held each New Year’s Day here in America, except the sculptures aren’t floating and bobbing down Colorado Boulevard. And the horticultural artists seem to use more leafy plants versus flowers. Each one has a cultural theme that stems (oops, a plant pun) from the artist’s country of origin. There is also a catalog of plants that must be followed in your design.

Hachiko in Montreal

I think they did a great job with Hachikō. Besides capturing his classic pose, they also recreated the platform at the train station where he would wait each day for his owner to return. (For background information on Hachikō, here is my post with his story.)

Hachiko on Platform, Montreal

Another dog that made it into the show is this one, companion of Elzéard Bouffier who was the main character in the tale The Man Who Planted TreesL’homme Qui Plantait des Arbres by French author Jean Giono. The story is about a man who reforests a valley in the foothills of the Alps in Provence throughout the first half of the 20th century, so this was a great choice for the exhibit. An animated short of the story by Frédéric Back was released in 1987 and won an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film, I would love to see it.

The Man Who Planted Trees

Of course there are many more amazing sculptures on display with all kinds of animals prominent in the theme. Below are examples from Montreal, Okinawa, Shanghai and Madagascar.

Montreal Botanical GardensOkinawa at the Montreal Botanical GardensShanghai at the Montreal Botanical GardensMadagascar at the Montreal Botanical Gardens

If you will be visiting Montreal before September 29, why not spend a few hours checking out these beautiful sculptures? Here is the event website for more information.

Erica Preo is CEO & Creative Director of Pantofola, pure luxury Italian goods for dogs.

Photos courtesy Mosaïcultures Internationales de Montréal 2013 and flickr.

Reading to Rover

Kid books and George

Recently I heard about a program called Reading to Rover, and the basic idea is that kids can practice reading aloud to a dog. Now, who hasn’t experienced sweaty palms and increased heart rate with the fear of being called upon to read to the class? Ugh, it’s worse than playing dodgeball. So I think it’s a great idea, right up there with practicing your embarrassing dance moves in front of your dog, which happens a lot around here. This is a structured program, but I think a kid anywhere can probably just do this anytime with their own dog. In the case of my dog George in the above photo, I’d probably have to sweeten the deal with a little cheddar to get his full cooperation.

Girl reading to a dog in the grass

Next I started thinking maybe reading a book about dogs to dogs would bring everything together. And a book that you can sing—even better. Then I saw this new one by John Lithgow on the blog titled Brain Pickings.

lithgow_book

Spreads from "I Got Two Dogs" by John Lithgow

If you go to the link, there’s a video with Mr. Lithgow himself singing and howling the words, so you can get the melody just right. Very entertaining. The book even comes with a CD, even better.

As for me, I’m kind of past the fear of reading aloud. Practicing my Italian, however, is a completely different matter…now, where’s George?

Photo from Reading to Rover, the Children and Family Resource Center. I Got Two Dogs by John Lithgow, illustrated by Robert Neubecker.