ARTISTS COLLECTIVE | SPARTANBURG

A Dog's Life

Janis M. McElligott

Artists Collective | Spartanburg presents ‘A Dog's Life’ exhibit
Artist Janis McElligott’s show August 3-28
We hear the expression “it’s a dog’s life,” but what does it really mean? Upstate artist Janis McElligott sets out to answer it in her latest exhibition, “A Dog’s Life: Service, Devotion and Forgiveness,” Aug. 3 through 28 in Gallery II of the Artists Collective | Spartanburg.

The exhibition of 20 of her acrylic paintings is a “message of service,” McElligott says. “Dogs are all around us, all the time. We mostly think of them as canine companions or we don’t think about them at all, other than maybe wishing they’d be quiet, or when someone failed to pick up their dog’s poop in the park. This exhibit focuses on some of the ways that dogs are there for us, to help us even in our local communities.”

McElligott used local dogs as her subjects. “You’ll see the K9s from the Greer Police Department, dogs in training veterans at South Carolina Service Dogs for Vets and a guide dog from the National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina. The show’s focus is on what dogs do to help protect, save, support and give independence to people.”

The paintings were done using photographs of the dogs in action. “It took three different photographers to capture the images that lent themselves to artistic interpretation,” McElligott says. “It took a lot of people to give me the chance to capture these dogs. The paintings express engagement and emotion that could not have been accomplished with using stock photos.”

The exhibition focuses on several groups of dogs: law enforcement K9s, service dogs for veterans, guide dogs for the blind, water-saving dogs and abandoned dogs. “Visitors to the show will see paintings of these dogs engaging in work or their portraits,” she says. “They are all living very different lives, but the common thread is the devotion they give to humans. The paintings will be supported with posting of key points of information about the dog breed or organization.”

McElligott says that when the coronavirus pandemic hit, she read about the increase of dogs being adopted or purchased for companionship. “I’ve spent a lot of time capturing dogs from the perspective of being loving companions for people but gave little thought as to how dogs will risk everything for the human animal. The pandemic inspired me to take a closer look right in my own community to see how they support us beyond friendship.

“Even if you don’t like dogs, I hope this exhibition brings some awareness to all the work that dogs do around us as well as the bond that exists between dogs and humans,” she adds.

The works will be available for purchase, with prices ranging from $40 to $450.

This exhibition is McElligott’s second at the Artists Collective | Spartanburg, of which she is a member, “and I’m more excited than the first one,” she says. “The Artist Collective is a wonderful place that encourages an artist to grow. It is a great community of artists with a single vision of making local art and artists available to the community.

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