Coexistence

Some of the features on this page require that JavaScript be enabled.
view previous artwork view next artwork
Millarville
print, lithograph, sheepdogs, outdoor,colour, creepy image, casting shadows, shadow, floating image, dog show, contortion, identity, reading an image, context, location, no context, audience, substance, appearance, façade, appearance over substance, dogs walking people, lithograph, sheepdogs, animals, people, human figures, landscape, identity, community,
description

Kim Eberhart: Daddy, I just saw a man carrying a naked lady.
Walter Eberhart: Well, that's why we're moving to Stepford.
        --The Stepford Wives (1975)

This  printAn exactly repeatable visual statement which exists as two-dimensional physical material.  work by Alexandra Haeseker features a row of people with sheepdogs. They are outdoors, wearing brightly-coloured clothes, on what seems to be a sunny day. Each stands behind a dog.  The dogs also stand in a row, one in front of the other, as orderly as the people behind them, as though they are “behaving.” One woman appears to be rubbing her dog’s nose.

Haeseker has used bright colours and a relatively innocent setting for an image that upon inspection, can maybe best be described as “creepy,” or unsettling, much like the  settingThe hardening process of paint, plaster of Paris, concrete, resin, an adhesive, or any other material which must harden before working with it further. (Artlex.com)  in the movie The Stepford Wives, quoted above. Notice, for example, that while the dogs and the people cast shadows, only the dogs have legs and feet.  Instead, the people float, ghost-like. The faces of the people are contorted and obscured, allowing only their dogs and their own clothes to carry their identities; we could read the image from left to right as “male, yellow shirt, dog; female, pink blouse, dog...” and so on.

start quoteMaybe you have to look back to look forward.end quote-- Alexandra Haeseker

We also might realize that the people depicted are in the non-space of a field, or what might be a field, without any surroundings. They are without buildings, vehicles, roads, trees and crops; they are without context, divorced from location and site. They seem to be engaged in showing off their sheepdogs, as though to an audience, but we are shown no audience... besides, they are facing away from the viewer at an angle, so we are not their audience either.

Millarville is, notably, a small community outside of Calgary, Haeseker’s longtime home. It has many stables, a polo club, and a horse-racing track, serving as a getaway for those Calgary residents who can afford to stable horses and to bet on their speed. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised, then, that Haeseker’s Millarville is constructed as a pretty façade that begins to hint at the value of appearance over substance; she suggests that the dogs are walking their people, rather than the other way around.

additional resources Things to Think About
  • Aside from what has been discussed above, what else might Millarville mean? Is it possible or likely that the artist is being sincere and admiring the people she depicts? What makes you think so (or not)?
  • If you were to paint a portrait of yourself with an animal, what animal would it be?  It could be an animal you own, or it can be imaginary. As you think about your image, think about your relationship is to that animal. Will the animal be bigger than you? Will you be missing body parts or wearing particular clothes, as the people in Millarville are? Where will you and the animal be located? Will you also be close, touching, interacting, or ignoring each other in the picture? What might the answers to those questions mean?
Advanced Activity

Interpretation of Haeseker’s  printAn exactly repeatable visual statement which exists as two-dimensional physical material.  and looking at the world of art about dogs

Advanced Activity

Various web sources of dog  imageryAn image is a picture, idea, or impression of a person, thing, or idea; or a mental picture of a person, thing, or idea. The word imagery refers to a group or body of related images. (Artlex.com)  for visual art ideas and other projects

Many of the dogs featured in  popular cultureLow (as opposed to high) culture, parts of which are known as kitsch and camp. With the increasing economic power of the middle- and lower-income populace since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in the nineteenth century, artists created various new diversions to answer the needs of these groups. These have included pulp novels and comic books, film, television, advertising, "collectibles," and tract housing. These have taken the place among the bourgeois once taken among the aristocracy by literature, opera, theater, academic painting, sculpture, and architecture. But modernist artists rarely cultivated the popular success of these new cultural forms. Modernist works were little appreciated outside of a small elite. Life magazine's 1950s articles on the abstract expressionist Jackson Pollock (American, 1912-1956), and the silkscreened paintings by Andy Warhol (American, 1928?-1987) of soup cans and celebrities signaled unprecedented fusions between high and low art and the transition to the postmodern age. (Artlex.com)  were invented or promoted by visual artists. Go to The World’s Greatest Pop Culture Site to find out more about the 100 greatest dogs of pop culture history!

Think about the influence of cartoon artists on popular culture and cartoon doggy characters we all love. These include Snoopy, Pluto, Wonder Dog, Clifford, and Lady and the Tramp. Artists, as film makers and TV directors, created stars out of Lassie, the Littlest Hobo, and Dorothy’s Toto in The Wizard of Oz, to name a few.

Online Activity
Hello, you either have JavaScript turned off or an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.

Haeseker used a form of  printAn exactly repeatable visual statement which exists as two-dimensional physical material.  making known as lithography. Go to What is a Print and check out the  animationGiving movement to a thing. Also, making animated cartoons — films that are also called animations. Types of animation include cel animation, clay animation (also called claymation), and computer animation. (Artlex.com)  to learn how a  lithographA form of printmaking where an artist prepares a stone for printing and draws an image using a grease pencil. The technique works on the principle that oil and water repel each other.  is made.

Design your own animal print online. In the  frameSomething made to enclose a picture or a mirror; or an enclosure composed of parts and joined together; or to make such things. (Artlex.com)  provided here, use the drawing tool to create an animal outline.

Studio Activity

Creating a pet portrait

Before the mid 1800s, artists did not have cameras to help them to capture animal poses. They would have had to make many quick sketches of the animal in action, and would also likely have had to study animal anatomy to make their sketches more accurate.  Most artists who paint pets use photography as a starting point. Following are some tips for making artwork based on animals:

  • Try observing an animal closely. Notice the different positions of the animal both in action and at rest.
  • If you want to draw from life, take careful measurements of proportions. Check your library for books on animal anatomy and for “how to draw” animal books.
  • Here are some websites to help you:
  • Another artist to look at is Regina artist Jack Cowin who makes prints of dogs as well as other animals.  You can find out more about Jack Cowin’s animal prints at the Nouveau Gallery:  http://www.nouveaugallery.com/index.php?page=249.
References

Author unknown.  Pendulum/Pendula.  Exhibition announcement.  Kelowna Art Gallery, Kelowna, British Columbia.  Retrieved from the Internet on May 11, 2008 from:  http://www.galleries.bc.ca/kelowna/2002/pendulum_pendula.htm.

Onoda, Satoka.  Orange Tulips: 1945 – 2005:  Liberation of the Netherlands by Canadians.  Exhibition announcement.  Museum of the Regiments, Calgary, Alberta, 2005.  Retrieved from the Internet on May 11, 2008 from:  http://www.ucalgary.ca/oncampus/weekly/may13-05/orange-tulips.html.

Redfern, Christine.  ‘A Walk in the Woods.’  The Montreal Mirror, Vol. 22 No. 10, August 24-30, 2006.  Retrieved from the Internet on May 11, 2008 from:  Montreal Mirror : Artsweek.

Canadian Heritage University of Regina Mackenzie Art Gallery Mendel Art Gallery Sask Learning