The “sculpture park” in our front yard is a terrific recognition of my place in the family, and I do appreciate my photo being hung in the hallway outside the kitchen along with pictures of Mike’s other dogs. But the “secret present” that Mike promised last week went light years beyond that. I know of few dogs who get their portrait painted by a noted artist.
For their recent 20th anniversary Mike and Heather commissioned a portrait of our pack by artist-musician Ed Hamell. While touring the U.S. and Europe as the one-man show Hamell on Trial, Ed for many years has also pursued visual arts, with his work featured on some of his own CDs. Working in acrylic on canvas, Hamell paints scenes “inspired by the ‘underground’ and ‘disenfranchised’ of our society,” he says. That’s my pack to a T, right? Ed uses bold and bright colors in his paintings, which contrast to “the darker subject matter, championing the underclass, drawing you into the characters he depicts, endearing you to them and sparking emotions one might not anticipate.” I do declare! Well, here it is, Mike, Heather and I on canvas.
Since it arrived last week, Heather and Mike can’t stop talking about the painting. They are constantly analyzing the underlying meanings behind the colors (green, orange, purple) and imagery (baseball cap, mountains, five stars) Hamell employed. They see in Hamell’s style echoes of the Canadian landscape painters know as the Group of Seven, stressing Heather’s proud heritage. But I ask you: Why am I the only one whose tongue is hanging out?
Anyway, Mike and Heather love the painting, and they immediately installed it in a position of prominence above their bed, where previously nothing hung as a precaution against an earthquake and having a framed picture land on your head. When he was putting it up, Mike told me that if this painting came down on them in an earthquake, he’s suing Hamell.
This certainly put everybody in the pack into a good mood, a nice precursor to the impending great unknown: Heather’s retirement from her job has just become official. And we all know what that means: Heather’s Boot Camp for Chloë is about to begin. Wish me luck.