There’s a new downtown art show that lets visitors touch, lick and even pee on the work. That is, if you’re a pooch.
“Every dog is allowed to be a dog in this show,” says Jessica Dawson, co-curator of “Dogumenta,” an art exhibit created specifically for our four-legged friends. “Which means that we would expect and hope that there will be some marking and some peeing going on, on all the artwork! That’s the way dogs send messages and communicate with each other about the art.”
The outdoor exhibit has transformed Brookfield Place’s waterfront plaza into a highbrow dog park this weekend. The show — created by Dawson and her canine co-curator Rocky — includes 10 site-specific works by local artists that aim to engage and delight man and woman’s best friend.
“I’ve never seen anything like this before,” says social-media manager Paige Chernick as she watches her two poodle mixes, Instagram stars Sawyer and Charlie (@puppynamedcharlie), tackle an elaborate food sculpture made out of kibble at a pooch preview for the show on Thursday. Nearby, another pooch takes care of his business near an ornate, Milk-Bone-layered cake. “They’re having the time of their [lives] right now” says Chernick of the canine art enthusiasts.
Dawson, an art critic, began working on a show for dogs in 2016, inspired by Rocky, a Maltese-Yorkie pup who had accompanied her on her gallery jaunts since she moved to Chelsea in 2013.
“Rocky has taught me so much about art,” Dawson tells The Post, adding that his responses to the work they would see together were so visceral and pure compared to her own. “Every time I would open a gallery door, his tail was wagging, his body was vibrating with excitement. I looked at him and said, ‘What’s his secret? He’s having a better time than I am!’”
Still, she noticed that many galleries did not consider their canine customers, hanging paintings too high on the wall or showing works in colors that dogs couldn’t register.
“It was time that [Rocky] and his four-legged friends got a show of their own,” says Dawson.
Dawson and her two-legged co-curator, Mica Scalin, met with local artists and talked over their ideas for their doggy artworks, bringing in Rocky for final critiques. For example, Rocky might indicate that he preferred a certain shape when it came to sculptor Merav Ezer’s silhouettes, or settle into one of Graham Caldwell’s pink miniature love seats in his mixed-media installation “The Conclave,” indicating that he was on the right track.
“He would come in and give his feedback, make adjustments, make sure we were going in the right direction,” says Dawson. “I believe he is the first dog curator ever.”
Rocky seems to have a nose for what his fellow culture hounds would like. Brenda Johnson, an Upper West Side marketer, says that her therapy dog, Sam, kept pulling her back to Kathryn Cornelius’ performance-art piece “Sit, Stay, Heal,” which features pillows and full-moon-charged crystals in a Zen space. While Paul Vinet’s “Fountain,” a zigzag sculpture that changes colors when urinated on, has attracted lots of markings — though not every dog has taken to the art as quickly as Rocky did.
“He refuses to urinate on the art — he doesn’t get it,” says designer Anthony Rubio about his miniature dog Bogey, dressed in hand-painted doggy couture. “But maybe he just respects it too much.”
“Dogumenta” runs 8 a.m. to 1 p..m and 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Bideawee Animal Shelter will have adoptable dogs at the show on Saturday, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. For more info and to reserve free tickets visit dogumenta.org. RSVP guarantees entry; walk-ons will be let in on a first come, first served basis.
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