Earlier this week, I attended the Tillamook Cheddar Mid-Career Retrospective 1999-2009 at the Hollywood Art and Cultural Center (Hollywood, Florida). "Tilly" is....well, she's a dog. Fine art by a dog. Can this be? Of course, it depends on how you define "artist" and "fine art".

A pinata in Tilly's likeness...sorry, I didn't get the artist's name.

Tilly's deconstucted pieces

Chewed and torn baseballs....more of Tilly's deconstructed, conceptualist works

Tilly's scratch transfer drawings

Hollywood Art and Culture Center website had this to say about Tilly's process:

Her primary process is a dynamic color transfer technique. In preparation for each of Tillie’s works, her assistants assemble a touch-sensitive recording device by affixing pigment-coated vellum to a sheet of lithograph paper backed by mat board. The artist takes the prepared “canvas” in her mouth and brings it to her workspace. Working on the outside surface, she applies pressure with teeth and claws in a methodic ritual marked by dramatic shifts in tempo and intensity. The resulting sharp and sweeping intersecting lines complement the artist’s delicate paw prints and subtle tongue impressions, composing an expressionistic image that is revealed on the paper beneath when she is finished. She works with shocking intensity, sometimes to the point of destroying her creations.

I tend to approach my own art experience with an open mind. Without making critical analyses on whether the idea of a dog making art is rubbish, I will say this exhibit put a smile on my face, warmed my heart, and in some abstract way, inspired me. I enjoy looking at art, and I very much like dogs. As long as no one takes the idea of art-making by animals too seriously, then there's nothing in the world wrong with presenting the "work" of animals. Some viewers will get it, some will not--same as for viewing human-made art.

This exhibit seems to poke fun at the stereotypically elite art market and overly intellectualized art criticisms, with its "get over yourself", tongue-in-cheek humor which I find very refreshing.

If you've read Why Cats Paint: A Theory of Feline Aesthetics, you probably had that fleeting thought, "Can this be serious?" Tilly's work ellicits the same, as it plays on your good sense of reasoning.

As I said, I left Tilly's exhibit smiling. And that's always a good thing.

I wish Tilly and her human assistants the best in her future artistic endeavors.