Ever wish you could take your dog to one of Philadelphia’s fine art museums? No? Just me? Well, even if you haven’t had such dreams, there’s good news – much of the art in Philly is located outside the four walls of any museum and easily accessible to your pooch and you thanks to the Association for Public Art (aPA).
The association, which preserves and promotes public art across the city, is holding some events in support of its #ArtPup photo contest. Until September 30th, take a photo of your dog posing with some of Philly’s public art, post it on social media with the #ArtPup hashtag, and you could win some fabulous prizes. Before the contest closes at the end of the month, aPA is also hosting a dog-friendly art tour along Kelly Drive, which is brimming with much of Philly’s public art.
Dipper and I decided to have a little fun with our own public art tour. Read on for some, um, insightful critiques and arbitrary ratings by the little guy himself. Don’t forget to enter the #ArtPup contest!
“Benjamin Franklin (on a bench)” (1987) by George Lundeen, located at the University of Pennsylvania
Dipper says: “My man! Benjamin Franklin. Now here’s a guy who gets it – a real Philadelphian. And I think this statue gets him, too. While I’d walked past it many times, I never thought of it as public art. In the middle of a busy college campus, it seemed more like something visiting families forced their children to take pictures with. But it serves many purposes aside from embarrassing human teenagers. For instance, it offers a valuable place to sit. And with good company. Ben here seems like the sort of man to strike up a nice conversation with a good dog. I’m happy to oblige. 9/10.”
“Fountain of the Seahorses,” located behind the Art Museum and attributed to Christopher Unterberger, a replica of the Fontana dei Cavalli Marini in the Villa Borghese Gardens in Rome, Italy
Dipper says: “Art should be multifunctional. While I’m told the base of this fountain totes a ‘no swimming’ sign – I can’t read – two children splashed around in its water to cool off a hot day. Though I cannot condone the disrespecting of art, I can respect rebellion in all forms. These children will make good artists someday. At this fountain, I get to hear and even smell the running water. These senses are much stronger than my sight, so I’m glad someone thought of me in constructing this piece. It’s delightful, yet terrifying. I hate water. 6/10.”
“Dickens and Little Nell” (1890) by Frank Edwin Elwell, located at Clark Park
Dipper says: “This piece is a testament to man’s arrogance. I love it. It depicts author Charles Dickens and a character from one of his novels (she dies tragically, by the way). Shortly after sculpting his creation, the artist learned that Dickens said in his will that he no wanted statues or anything of the like – nothing but Dickens’ own books were to survive him. Yet here it is. In the entire world, there is only one other statue of the famed author. The sheer fact that this piece art sits in the middle of my favorite park is amazing. I wish I could be as stubborn as a statue that was never meant to exist. Then again, I’m a terrier – maybe I am. 10/10.”
Dipper says: “The Dipper of a Nation. Wait, you say that’s not what this one’s called? At any rate, this is by far the largest piece of art I’ve ever seen. What a daunting task for a human to take on – they’ve only got two paws for sculpting, afterall. Despite the effort, the subjects are a bit hard to read. As a creature finely attuned to emotion, I don’t see much on their faces. In fact, they seem stiff, maybe even under-sculpted? 5/10.”
“Marquis de Lafayette” (1947) by Raul Josset, located behind the Philadelphia Museum of Art
Dipper says: “This man is fabulous. The sway of his cape. The angle of his sword. I can’t help but wonder how he smelled. I hear he was a French general in the American Revolution at the age of only 20. He volunteered for the task. Why? Do you think he hoped that someday, a dog like me would admire his image? Still, it’s hard to relate to a statue so high up in the air, let alone take a photo with one. A man of the revolution should be closer to the ground among the common people. 7/10.”
“LOVE,” located at the University of Pennsylvania, a replica of Robert Indiana’s 1976 sculpture
Dipper says: “Philly has a lot of statues of people, but I think it needs more statues of concepts. And what better concept is there than love? As a rescue dog, let me tell you, I know a thing or two about love. It’s not something you can really capture outside of feeling it, but I respect this piece for trying. I haven’t got much to say about this one. After all, how can you judge love? 11/10.”