About Me

My photo
Washington, United States
loves: you win if you guessed "pets" and "museums". Also books, art history, travel, British punk, Korean kimchi, bindis, martinis, and other things TBD. I will always make it very clear if a post is sponsored in any way. Drop me a line at thepetmuseum AT gmail.com !

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

a friend met traveling

photos mine

We visited Friday Harbor this past weekend (and can't wait to go back).  One of our great pleasures was meeting the Port of Friday Harbor's official seal:  Popeye, a girl with all beholders under her flipper.  She loves attention and fish, and gets plenty of both.  I took a lovely short video of us feeding her, but it won't load, alas.  Luckily many others have done the same.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

harem cat

John Frederick Lewis [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0) or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

John Frederick Lewis (English, 1804-76) is considered one of the finest of the Orientalist painters.  Not only did he bring scrupulous detail and realism to his depictions of Middle Eastern life, he did so with respect for the culture and people.  He lived in Cairo for ten years, returning to England in 1851 to make a career out of his remembered imagery.  Here's his 1857 watercolor "Hhareem Life, Constantinople" (that's not a typo, that's one of the ways the word was spelled back then).  This scene is pleasant in its domesticity, not least in its portrayal of the feather-slaying puss, cat-hanced below:

How different was Lewis in his approach to this subject?  If you're curious, you can find a comparative discussion in this Guardian article, written as review for Tate Britain's 2008 "Lure of the East" exhibition.

Friday, June 16, 2017

george carlson's beautiful black cat

found on pinterest. believed PD (US publication before 1923)
What an elegant image.  Mind you, this is on a children's periodical, so imagine young eyes and minds getting used to work of this quality.  That was easily done if you were a child lucky enough to subscribe to John Martin's Book, published from 1912 to 1933.  Illustrator George Carlson (1887-1962) was the primary contributor of that periodical's covers and illustrations.  This is his cover for October 1918, which leaves you to interpret the cat's expression based on sketched whiskers and luminous eyes.  See, too, how the cat is stepping out of the cover's frame.  It's dynamic, and it's clever - have you spotted the tiny gray mouse yet?

Wednesday, June 14, 2017


thanks reuseable-art.com
Wedawe:  a word that translates as "to own a dog" in the Mi'kmaq language, according to the vintage dictionary I have found this morning. The Mi'kmaq nation lives in Canada's Maritime provinces as well as parts of Quebec, Newfoundland and Maine; at the time of the book's writing, the language and the people were spelled "Micmac."  Also at that time the peoples of this nation wrote in a beautiful hieroglyphic system.  I mention that because I want you to see and appreciate it.
Here are some of their words regarding dogs, as recorded in the dictionary:

My dog, 'Nte.
Thy dog, ukte.
His dog, Ooteel.
A little dog, uliimoojeech.
An Indian's dog, ulnooaasum; Weiasiimooch.
A white man's dog, Aglaseawaasum.
A Newfoundland dog, Mootkulaasum.
A good moose-dog — i. e.. a good moose hunter — A moose-dog, Teamoowaasum.
A fox-dog, (a hound), Wokwisooaasijm.
A useless dog, Mejunooaasum. Lit., A dung- dog.
The ancient Indian dog, Lunsum.
A white dog, Wopsum.
What is this dog especially good for? - kogooaaasum?
A good dog for birds, Sesipawaasum.
He is a good dog for hunting porcupines, Madooeswaasum.
He is a capital dog for hunting bears, Mooinawaasum.
He is a good sheep dog, Cheechkelooaoochwaasum.
To own a dog, Wedawe.
A male dog, Nabesum.
A female dog, (a bitch,) Skwesum.
An old dog, kesegoo'sum.

-- from Rand, S. Tertius. (1888). Dictionary of the language of the Micmac Indians: who reside in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Cape Breton and Newfoundland. Halifax, N.S.: Nova Scotia printing company. 88-9.

Monday, June 12, 2017

an interpretation: spiral kitty

see below for image attribution
Land art is art created in nature, with natural materials, and portrays a different way of looking at the land itself.  The term was created by artist Robert Smithson (American, 1938-73), whose work Spiral Jetty remains one of the best and widest known examples.  Made within the confines of the Great Salt Lake, it was submerged in 1972, but recent drought has brought it back to accessibility.

I've found a charming series of teaching videos from Homesession Barcelona in which works of modern art are interpreted by cats.  In the link below, educational assistants Haruki and Alvaro are happy to interact with their particular recreation of Spiral Jetty:
Spiral Kitty.
The art doesn't submerge under water, but it does go somewhere!  And you'll want to hang on to discover more with Haruki and Alvaro.

Image attribution: By Sculpture: Robert Smithson 1938-1973 Image:Soren.harward at en.wikipedia (Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons.) [Public domain or CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Saturday, June 10, 2017

hey cat, what do you see?

thanks pixabay
I ask my cats that all the time.  I'm really looking for an answer about what it means to them - I persist in believing the cats live examined lives.  This morning, though, while watching Ronnie trying to eyeball the exact location of the treats in front of her feet, I thought: "What do they actually SEE?"
After sifting through the usual webdreck, here's some sort of answer for cats and dogs.
Artist and researcher Nickolay Lamm did research and simulation to provide several conditions of cat vision.  Check 'em all out.
Meanwhile, over at the Natural History Museum in London, here's a post on how several creatures see the world, with a slider of people vs. dog vision.

Friday, June 09, 2017

be here meow with krista brooks

all images copyright and by kindest permission of krista brooks
Krista Brooks creates pet-themed images with a particular flair: the bright colors and optimistic, direct appeal found in advertisements and graphics of days gone by.  "Zen Kitty," above, was the first of hers I'd ever seen, and it's perfect.  It's fresh and full of peace and nature, and yet it's up to the minute with its popping pink motto exhorting us to "Be Here Meow."  It does make me want to be here meow.  You know I can never see one thing I like by an artist without finding out more.  That's how I ended up at Brooks' site, Retro Pets.

If there were Sweet Little King apples or pears, this would be the crate label for them.  To give you a sense of how well she captures the feel of the genre, here's a vintage fruit crate label for comparison.
At Brooks' site you can watch a short video telling the story of how Retro Pets came to be. It came organically:  she moved to New Mexico from Boston with a bag of clothes and art supplies, and one day afterward a friend asked her to paint his dog.  So she did, in the way she loved best - as a retro-style label.  That was a hit (and deservedly, as you will see).  Encouraged, she did a few more like that and showed locally, and then word and image got out to all our mutual joy.
Last but not least,  I have to share my favorite, which I am tempted to place prominently in the Museum kitchen:

Thursday, June 08, 2017

wear a dog book

Gift of Mrs. Leslie Legum, 1991 art.thewalters.org
Even at its page at the Walters Art Museum, this tiny enameled book is hard to see, but then it measures only 1 inch tall.  That is indeed a white dog seated on the spine, picked out in enamel and gold.  What's to be discovered inside this charming creation, dating from England of the 1840's?  Well, you must follow the link I gave you and see the "additional views."  It folds out into a bracelet!
I found another "book" bracelet here, and another on Pinterest.