News: At ‘Best in Show II,’ at Lanoue Gallery, Art Meets Arf, August 15, 2018 - Cate Mcquaid for The Boston Globe

At ‘Best in Show II,’ at Lanoue Gallery, Art Meets Arf

August 15, 2018 - Cate Mcquaid for The Boston Globe

The dog star Sirius, the brightest star, rises in the predawn sky in late summer. This year, August also brings us dog art in “Best in Show II” at Lanoue Gallery, a benefit exhibition for the MSPCA-Angell Animal Medical Center. The gallery always welcomes dogs, who are invited with their people to a Pooch Party on Aug. 26, 1-4 p.m.

Like cats, babies, and spectacular sunsets, dogs are a tricky subject, so steeped in sentiment and affection it can be hard to put an original spin on them. Nothing here sways too far into sweetness, although there are some surreal works whose coy dream worlds wobble uncertainly around a species known for frankness.

Dogs can remind us of our own best qualities: love, loyalty, and enthusiasm. The best works either elegantly encapsulate that canine essence or home in with terrific detail to make unique portraits. 

Of the first, Rebecca Kinkead’s splendid painting “Black Dog With Birch” catches a black Lab’s unfettered glee retrieving a branch from the water. He bounds right at us, flinging droplets of paint right and left, his coat faceted and wet. 

Mark Perry’s charming sculpture “Hero” celebrates dalmatians’ long history as firefighters’ mascots. The dog, nimbly carved from a single piece of wood, is fashioned as a merry-go-round animal, its front paws on the axle of a fiery wheel.

As for portraits, Robin Robertis’s Shaolin Temple Terrier gazes at us soberly from within an anarchic tangle of hair in the photograph “Django.” Raised in a Buddhist monastery in China, Django looks rather like a furry Buddha at whose feet you might place your troubles.

A dachshund named Rhoda stars in “Oh No! I Dropped It!” from Seth Casteel’s series of fierce and comic underwater photos of dogs — images that are both every-dog and utterly specific. Rhoda’s eyes open maniacally wide, her mouth even wider, and bubbles stream from her nose as she pursues her prey: an orange ball.

It’s a dog’s life, and a good one.


At Lanoue Gallery, 450 Harrison Ave., through Sept. 2. 617-262-4400.

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