Arizona ArtBeat: ArtWalk the Dog

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The dog days of summer take on new meaning in the Scottsdale Arts District. On certain August nights, you’ll find gallery owners and artists welcoming four-legged visitors. It’s a chance for pet lovers to mingle and browse pet-related art. Veronica Graffius, Calvin Charles Gallery owner, tells us why being dog-friendly is smart for business, and we catch artist April Howland in action on her largest commissioned painting of a pet.

Ted Simons: Scottsdale held its first ArtWalk in the downtown area 39 years ago, and as such, the event is often described as America's original ArtWalk. Indeed, most every week you can find people strolling along Main Street and Marshall Way enjoying the galleries. But some extra feet hit the pavement this past summer. Producer Christina Estes and photographer Scot Olson explain.


Veronica Graffius: The Calvin Charles Gallery is a mix of contemporary and Asian.

Christina Estes: And a mix of human and canine.

Veronica Graffius: We love dogs.

Christina Estes: That's why the galleries on Marshall Way designated four nights for their four-legged friends.

Veronica Graffius: Normally for August, this time of year is very quiet. Now that the galleries have come together and celebrate and have this ArtWalk, a special ArtWalk, ArtWalk the Dog, we've noticed a lot more traffic, a lot more excitement on the street.

Veronica Graffius: Inside the Bezalel Gallery --

Benjamin Kern: We're really trying to reach out and sort of break that stereotype that everything is so pretentious down here in Scottsdale.

Christina Estes: It's kind of tough being snooty when a dog is licking your face.

Geri Schencker: Thank you for kisses. She likes to kiss me a lot.

Christina Estes: Thanks to Geri Schencker's group Rescue Paws, new puppies are sharing space with new artists.

Geri Schencker: We're trying to get our dogs adopted, because we get them from the pound. We try to save them from being killed. We adopted four already.

Christina Estes: Making new friends isn't the only perk. Visitors can browse and buy unique animal art. Everything from metal sculptures to small sketches, to huge paintings.

April Howland: This is Elvis. He is a Bull Terrier. He is one of my commissions of late. This is the biggest commission I've ever done so far. It's five foot by five foot on gallery wrap canvas.

Christina Estes: Quite a leap from April Howland's early artwork, drawing cats and dogs at the age of four.

April Howland: My first memory as a child was a box of puppies, and I picked out our dog. She lived to be 21 years old. She was really more like a family member than a dog.

Christina Estes: Before the first brush stroke, April likes to meet her subjects.

April Howland: He's a very people-friendly dog. That's pretty much the inspiration for this piece. He's just walking up to you, and he's like, please, stop, hang out with me.

Christina Estes: She says the key is the same as painting people --

April Howland: Their eyes are the windows to their soul. If I can get that sparkle in their eye, I've got their dog. I've never once had a complaint about that. They can always see their dog come through. And I think if you can capture the eyes you've got the dog. It doesn't matter what I do with the rest of it. The eyes really are what speak to you.

Christina Estes: ArtWalk the Dog doesn't just get locals into galleries, it also gets tourists talking.

Mike Wilhoite: It's an artsy town, I figured that's just what you guys did.

Christina Estes: After visiting the Grand Canyon, Mike Wilhoite and his wife headed to Scottsdale with friends.

Mike Wilhoite: There's great stuff. We lost our wives in one of the galleries for about 30 minutes as we sat and watched the dogs walk by.

Christina Estes: They can watch again in April, when the Scottsdale Gallery Association hosts its first Bone Apetite ArtWalk, a special treat for Fido and friends.

Ted Simons: The ArtWalk is free and takes place every Thursday from 7 to 9 p.m. along Main Street and Marshall Way in downtown Scottsdale.

Ted Simons: Friday on "Arizona Horizon" it's "The Journalists' Round Table." We'll discuss how the government shutdown is impacting Arizona. And two Republican candidates announce for currently held Democratic seats in Arizona's first and second congressional districts. Those stories and more Friday on "The Journalists' Round Table." That is it for now. I'm Ted Simons. Thank you so much for joining us. You have a great evening.

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