As an artist, I am asked to donate my artwork to every organization that has a title. It's exhausting and impossible to help them all. I have become rather stingy with my charity. I have to. I need some work to sell and make a living. I don't want a real job. I'm ill-suited for it. There aren't many careers where you can spend the entire day, standing around in dirty pants and flailing a paintbrush at canvas. As long as other people want to buy and love my neurotic, crazy animals, I'll be doing just that.
There are a few organizations that I am generous with to a fault and one of those is the Humane Society of Memphis and Shelby County. (Aida Velveeta was adopted from their facility.) They're a great organization that provides a much needed service, protecting the abused, placing the unwanted and providing safe shelter for the ill animals of the city of Memphis. There are so many dogs and cats who need this service, it has them past capacity. So when Ginger Morgan asked me if I would like to be a part of the "Dog Daze in Memphis" public art project to support the Humane Society, I jumped at the chance.
The project is about Buddy, a hurricane Katrina survivor, who was placed with the HS. Although lovable, it was trouble to place him in the right home, because he had lost a rear foot to a gator or a nutria trap. This has made him unstable, so he kept being returned because their other dogs knocked him over or he made the toddler fall over... Long story short, he is now the Humane's Spokesdog and Ginger's sidekick. I was asked to do his likeness for the Humane Society.
His tongue is bondo and yes, Buddy always does this. I gave him a nice soft cushion of cats on his base and one hiding on his back. It's called, "Everybody Needs A Buddy". Ginger asked me to remove the right rear foot like the real Buddy. It was such a task that I told her later that I felt that I knew what Buddy felt like when he had to do it. But I really think he probably had an easier time...
I also had the distinct honor of doing the "68 Comeback Special Buddy" for Graceland, in celebration of the fortieth anniversary of Elvis's '68 Comeback Special. You know, the one where he wore the hot black motorcycle outfit? I painted him in various poses from the special and made a collar of the big "Elvis" in red lights background. The base is the silhouette cage dancing Elvis-es from the "Jail House Rock" production number. It took forever to paint because I had to do it all in freehand. Due to the curve of the dog's body, when I put the first stencil down, I realized that it wasn't going to work. Elvis's nose was so big, he looked more like Jimmy Durante! It's been a long time since I've done portraits of people. When you paint someone's pet, they want you to show them warts and all. I love to do it. Painting people is a different beast. They prefer to be more idealized so I gave it up long ago. Painting a Rock N Roll legend is downright daunting. The kind folks at EPE seem to be pleased with him and I am content as a result. He'll be on display at Graceland, here in Memphis, starting in August for Tribute Week, until all 78 dogs done by various local artists are auctioned off in the Fall. Tribute Week is a big deal at Graceland. They'll get 100,000 or two people from all over the world to pay homage to The King. There are events planned all day for every day of the week, culminating in a Candlelight Vigil. Fans start lining up in the early morning hours on the last day. The last people to file by Elvis's resting place was at about 7:00 the next morning last year, I believe.
The third and last Buddy I did is for City Auto. My brother-in-law is the owner of City Auto (Thanks, David!) and graciously agreed to get one of his companies, Mr. Touch-Up, (Thanks Lee!) to clear coat all the dogs. I gave him reflector eyes, a rear view mirror, moving wheels, a chrome gas cap and a dual chrome tail pipe. He has white pin striping down the sides that terminate in the CA logo near the trunk. Yeah, he's got a trunk, kids. Wouldn't yours? I'm thinking about having one installed in Zoe. That way, I can stop being bogged down carrying a purse.
The dogs will leave Autozone Park (Home of the Memphis Redbirds) on Monday,July 14, and will be distributed to their various foster (sponsor) homes until the about November. Then there will be a gala auction where you can bid on any one of the 75 Buddies in the show. If you ae in Memphis, you can take the Dog Daze Tour and see any or all of them at their sponsoring businesses. Come out and see them if you can. They're all pretty wonderful and some are downright amazing.