11 October 2009

Untethered: Offleash Dog Parks

Dog Parks are fascinating spaces. These spaces range from small, fenced in urban lots to several acres set aside in State Parks; from dry fields to beaches. Each space offers a veritable wonderland in which dogs, untethered, can roam. Dog Parks are in high demand across the country, and front-and-center when it comes to controversy.
Parks have been around for several decades, yet it’s only been in the last 5 to 10 years that they have really exploded into the consciousness of dog owners everywhere. Originally intended to give cooped up city dogs a place to exercise, they have bloomed into wide spread social, and recreational, spaces for both people and their dogs.
Those that think Dog Parks are harmless fun, or not to be taken seriously, are in for a big surprise. People have been injured while attempting to break up fights, being knocked down or bitten. Dogs, and other animals, have been injured, and even killed. In parks without fencing, some dogs get lost and never go home. Surprisingly, in other instances, it’s the wildlife or environment that poses the threat to both humans and dogs. Sometimes, the dogs threaten the wildlife.
Thankfully, the vast majority of visits leave both the dog and it's human very happy, and tired. In fact, there is a whole culture that has sprung up around frequent, regular visits. So much so that "friends of" groups have become popular. These volunteer members help the cities keep the parks clean and educate new visitors on ettiquette and rules, in addition to sponsoring social activities at the parks.

At the moment, my goal is to publish a photographic book on Dog Parks that reflects the psycho-social behavior of both humans and dogs, interactions with the environment, the urban legends, and the etiquette and rules of Dog Parks. I would love to discuss this project further with anyone interested. Please feel free to contact me or visit http://www.cherylbarthfineart.com/ to view the gallery.

Come back frequently as I will post about new dog park adventures, pictures and news.

04 October 2009

'To create ties'

“Who are you?” the little prince asked. “You’re very pretty…”

“I’m a fox.” the fox said.
“Come and play with me,” the little prince proposed. “I’m feeling so sad.”
“I can’t play with you,” the fox said. “I’m not tamed.”

In a master drawing class in the spring of 2009, I was given an assignment. Bring in a quote from a favorite book. Having moved around quite a bit, my library has dwindled to just a couple shelves, mostly filled with gardening and religious books. I thought about an inspired quote from one of the latter, but it just didn’t feel right. Nothing in the gardening section, so I went downstairs to look through the couple boxes filled with my personal stuff. At the bottom of the second box, I found my old copy of ‘The Little Prince’ by Antoine De Saint-Exupery. Paging through the book brought back fond memories.

Then I saw it….

“I can’t play with you,” the fox said. “I’m not tamed.”

Intrigued, I kept reading.

“…Are you looking for chickens?”
“No.” said the little prince, “I’m looking for friends. What does tamed mean?”
“It’s something that’s been too often neglected. It means ‘to create ties’…”
“’To create ties’?”
“That’s right,” the fox said. “For me you’re only a little boy just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you have no need of me either. For you I’m only a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, we’ll need each other. You’ll be the only boy in the world for me. I’ll be the only fox in the world for you…”

So I took that book to the class. I hadn’t found my “favorite” quote, but I had found my favorite passage. More than that, after a group discussion, I realized I had found an overarching, personal theme that has been woven into most of my images.