Dog parks? Better than human parks. Doggy bags? Better than dumping your leftovers in the trash. Dogsledding? Superior to tobogganing, by far. Yes, the old adage is true. Doing it doggy style makes everything better—even starchy old art exhibits, as inventor Dominic Wilcox proves. His latest whimsical design project is the world's first art exhibition for dogs.
A refreshing analog to the chin-stroking, thumb-framing stuffiness of a homo sapien art show, the show featured eight distinct works, each designed mostly for the enjoyment of attending pups.
Three of the works in the exhibitions were by Wilcox himself. The first, Cruising Canines, put dogs inside a plywood open car window simulator, complete with the effect of open air rushing by, provided by a nearby fan filled with smelly old shoes and cuts of steak. Next, there was Dinnertime Dreams, a 10-foot-wide dog bowl filled with hundreds of light brown playballs, mimicking giant kibble. Then there was Watery Wonder, a collection of stainless steel dishes with leaping spurts of water dancing between them.
Outside of what Wilcox has designed for the show, there were five other works on display. Artist Nick White presented Catch, a multimedia exhibit of a frisbee bouncing back and forth on a screen mounted at roughly dog height. From Joanne Hummel-Newell, there is Post, an interpretation of a dog's excitement when a new letter drops through the mailbox. There were also three other paintings for dogs, by artists Robert Nicol, Michelle Thompson, and Clare Mallison. All of these works were uniquely produced in a gray, yellow, and blue palette, which is the color spectrum seen by most dogs, thanks to the fact that they only have two different color sensitive cone cell types in their retina.
Wilcox's exhibition was sponsored by More Than, a U.K. insurance company that is trying to promote its pet insurance offerings. (And everyone should have pet insurance). Wilcox, a professional weirdo as well as dog lover, has his own reasons for mounting the exhibit, though.
"Contemporary art has long been an important source of inspiration and fascination for humans, but never before has it been created with a view to drawing the same kind of emotions out of animals instead," Wilcox said in a statement. "While it’s certainly one of the more interesting challenges I’ve faced in my career, it feels great to have created such a truly unique collection of interactive artworks for a completely new audience."
Like binoculars for hearing or a strap-on nose stylus for your iPhone, Wilcox's works often feel like weird improv prompts: "Okay, okay! For your next sketch, you're an art exhibition . . . for dogs!" That's not a coincidence. In the past, Wilcox has said that he's so desperate for inspiration, he'll latch onto any idea, no matter how mad. In this case, though, I think he may have come up with his most sane idea yet. After all: What museum or gallery wouldn't be improved by the presence of dozens of scampering pups?
Sadly, the time to see the World's Art Exhibition for Dogs is already behind us: it was on display on August 19-20 in London. Dewclaws crossed that it eventually has a world tour.
[Photos: Mikael Buck/courtesy More Than]