Art exhibit expressly for canine critics debuts in NYC

NEW YORK — You won't find any pictures of dogs playing poker at DoGUMENTA.

A three-day art exhibition curated expressly for dogs is attracting hundreds of canines to a marina in lower Manhattan, where hounds and terriers are feasting their eyes, and in some cases their mouths, on nearly a dozen masterpieces.

The idea is the brainchild of former Washington Post art critic Jessica Dawson, who says she was inspired by her rescue dog Rocky, a tiny morkie (Yorkie-Maltese mix), who regularly joins her at exhibits of the human variety.

"When Rocky accompanied me on my gallery visits I noticed that he was having a much better time than I was," explains Dawson, who moved to New York four years ago. "He was not reading the New York Times reviews, he was not reading the artists' resumes, and so I said he has something to teach me about looking, and all dogs have something to teach us about looking at contemporary art and being with it."

Organizers of the exhibit, which takes its name from Documenta, which takes place every five years in Kassel, Germany, and put on by Arts at Brookfield, staggered the arrival times of the dogs to keep things orderly.

"I think she's enjoying it," said Lorraine Gates, who attended with her tiny Japanese chin, Maltese and Papillon mix. "I love this idea; I think it's really wonderful."

The 10 works of art at the outdoor exhibit were all strategically placed at eye-level for the canines. One featured an elaborate display of dog biscuits and other treats that attendees were invited to munch on.

At another exhibit, four-legged art critics were lifting their hind legs and "expressing" themselves on a work called "Fountain." As the dogs left their marks, scribbles of blue streaks were left behind on the white blocks.

Dawson said Rocky had visited several times.

Susan Godwin and her morkie, Tasha, were soaking up the art vibes. "This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Godwin gushed. "You can go to museums all over New York and you can never bring your dog."

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