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Visual and Visionary: Animals in Art

We know the power of the concrete image, which is why poets in particular rely so strongly on metaphor to convey their message. When we read a quality literary piece, we retain the verbally constructed image forever, linking us to the words. For me, as a writer, the words never came first; the image did. Then I entered an almost trance-like state to retrieve the language that interpreted the picture. Forever embedded in my visual memory is a young and hunger-afflicted illiterate Colonel Sartoris Snopes whose stomach read the red devil labels on cans on the general store shelf. We rely on pictures to symbolize a moment, a movement, a philosophy. Returning to my early days in academia, I felt someone had injected me with propellant when I first encountered the sad, mad exposed heart in the self portraits of Vincent Van Gogh.....and thirty years later, I experience a similar rush when I get lost in the work of Rembrandt, as heart and soul radiate through the dim canvas centuries after he first immortalized his subjects.

I have never been able to afford fine art collections, but over the years, I have collected prints to soften the walls of my house and promote a specifically warm energy, and of course those prints are all animal centered. Because I suffer from cat allergy, I could never live with a cat, so to compensate for a lack of feline energy in the house, I have placed a piece of cat art in every room of the house. When I travel, I visit galleries and museums and have mentally collected a few favorite pieces which I'd like to share with the animal lovers out there.

The Grief of the Pasha by Jean-Leon Gerome: For those who have lost animals, this painting expresses the depth of grief when an interspecies bond is broken by moving.

The Sleeping Gypsy by Henri Rousseau: What a mythological statement. This has kept me shamanic company for 15 years.

The BearDance by William Holbrook Beard: I light up whenever I see this.

Spirit Wolf by Susan Seddon Boulet: I had the pleasure of meeting Susan Seddon Boutlet before she died. I sat in on her mask-making workshop at the Omega Institute. What a privelege.

Calico Kitten by Georg Williams: Williams does whimsical caricatures of people's pets. His work is showcased at Gallery Rinard on my favoarite street, Royal Street, in New Orleans. I have a few of his prints, which keep my laughing. The last image I see at night and the first when I awake is his Calcio Kitten. This is a way for me to start every day with laughter.

Georg Rodrigue's Blue Dog. His original bkue dog pain is frought with mystery and soul

Martin LeBorde: This visionary and mythological artists speaks to those of us who rely on both dream and animal messengers to soar beyond the mundane world. Go to and click on artists to view his extraordinary work.

I'd be interested in hearing from you to see which animal images keep you comforted or intrigued. Please share!

I'll be posting the images in the next post. (Technology interferes with proper placement in this one.)


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