Alright, I know what you’re thinking. AF has gone to the dogs indeed! What are we drinking in our water cooler? By now, you should know that we go for the unconventional so here it is – AF’s very first Q & A with a canine and four-legged celebrity in the art scene. My encounter with Venus was at the Bedri Baykam show on April 3rd this year. As soon as Venus walked in with Peggy Cyphers, the energy of the room shifted as everyone was drawn to the irrepressibly cute gallery bitch (but of the good kind) and adored this pooch. I immediately hinted to Venus’ owner, Peggy, that I would love to do a project and get more than woofs from the less heard entourage of the art world. More people bring their dogs to art openings and it’s about time we heard from one of them. Peggy related to me that Venus is quite observant and an “art critic”. Straight from Iowa, we conducted this interview with Peggy serving as the translator for Venus.
ARTE F– USE: So Venus, what do you think of owners bringing their precious four legged loved ones to art openings?
VENUS: I think the dogs add species diversity and that’s really important for the liberal art crowd. Plus they add a visually aesthetic edge to the more cold conceptual art. From my vantage point the pups generally smell wonderful and it’s really a break from the wine and perfume.
AF: Do you let Peggy know what you think when she’s starting on a new series of work?
V: I give her dreamy looks when she’s in the zone, as they say. I like to take long naps while she’s painting and usually communicate telepathically with her while I am dreaming, that’s my most creative alpha state.
AF: Art preference: Are you more the Dogs Playing Poker kind or a Jeff Koons Doggy Balloon lover? You like kitsch or high gloss type of art?
V: I was educated in fine art but I can I appreciate any art about animals. We deserve more respect and it’s good that we can be portrayed as intelligently playing poker, and that a silly balloon dog can sell for a ton of cash.
AF: Has Peggy ever painted a portrait of you or had one commissioned?
V: She’s working on a painting of me but it’s a secret. I think it’s an Odalisque.
AF: Of course you love Peggy but name an artist (Dead or Alive) that you think would be excellent taking care of canines?
V: Of course, Robert Rauschenberg! Peggy has a print by him that collages his favorite Siberian Husky dog with his sailboat…by the way I like boating but have to be real careful of falling overboard as my neck is so short and for some reason I can’t breath underwater!
AF: Do you wish artist could present dogs more as feral or stick with the expected man’s best friend profile?
V: I prefer a warm fireplace in winter and full AC in summer so I am happy to stick close to humans, they really know how to live. For instance, I don’t like howling in the rain.
AF: Living with an artist, what is a typical dog’s life?
V: I have to wake her up pretty early so we can get into the park while my buddies, Ziggy and Dudley are still there chasing balls. The air is so fresh and the grass is deliciously sensual. I usually wade into the pond. (People think I am funny, I look like a water buffalo) Then it’s all down hill when Peggy’s very busy and I have to spend the day looking out the window. If I get to go on an adventure shopping or to the studio I am in heaven. The icing on the cake is an opening where people tell me I am cute and rub my tummy for hours.
AF: Dogs are intuitive – how can you tell if the art is good or not?
V: The odor that the crowd exudes, if it’s off somehow it’s a dead give away .
AF: If you could do an art performance, what would you do? Please don’t say play dead.
V: I would appropriate from Joseph Beuys of course… i could make a life sized Beuys look-a-like mannequin, I talk art to Joseph and explain relational aesthetics among other trends. We talk for the camera about the social ramifications of art and put our performance on Youtube and we’re famous and get a show at MoMA!
AF: Any parting thoughts for owners out there on how to get their beloved dogs have a healthy appreciation for art.
V: Exposing them to art when they are puppies is essential, and that means going to openings and hob nobbing with other dog loving art connoisseurs.
There you have it folks! Who let the dogs out? AF did.
Watch out for Venus making an appearance at an art opening and you will no doubt fall in love with that cute face. Also, the telepathic alpha dream state is what Venus is perfecting along with the Beuys inspired project.
Peggy Cyphers just returned from The Grin City Collective art residency in Iowa. She is researching the endangered plants of the Prairie in preparation for creating a series of prints with VanDeb Editions in New York this fall. Only one tenth of 1% of the original prairie still exists and environmentalist are working to ensure its reconstruction and the survival of over 300 species of plants. Her recent show of paintings at The Proposition in NYC was reviewed in Art in America, Brooklyn Rail and ArteryNYC.
To learn more about Peggy’s art, visit: http://www.peggycyphers.com/
This special Q & A is lovingly dedicated to BOONKIE – our beloved four-legged member of the AF crew and cherished companion to our publisher Jamie Martinez, who recently went on to doggy heaven. We’d love to think there are endless doggie treats and fire hydrants for Boonkie to enjoy for all eternity!
interview by: Oscar A. Laluyan
images from various sources and credited under photo