David Bruce: Be a Work of Art — Animals, Art and Artists


• In the early 20th-century play Palmy Days is a scene in which a dog recognizes a character named “Kaintuck” in a saloon. The scene worked very well on stage. The playwright trained his dog to find his hat. He told his dog, “Where’s that hat?” and the dog would search for the hat, howling until he found it. On opening night, the playwright gave the hat to the actor playing Kaintuck, and for the recognition scene, he told his dog, “Where’s that hat?” The audience heard howling offstage, then saw the dog come on stage and go directly to Kaintuck, who was wearing the hat.

• Downhill mountain bike racer Missy Glover loves pets. While racing, she carries her dead dog’s ashes, and around her neck she wears the taxidermist-preserved remains of another deceased pet — a piranha. She also believes in meditation, and for that purpose, she built a Mongolian yurt in her backyard.

• Animals cause their share of mishaps on stage. Fred Terry once wore a false nose while playing the role of King Charles, who kept a number of spaniels. During a performance, one of the spaniels jumped up, bit off the end of the false nose, then ran away. The audience was delighted.

• In a Central Village cemetery in Connecticut is a tombstone bearing the inscription, “ROSA. My first Jersey Cow. Record 2 lbs. 15 ozs. Butter. From 18 qts 1 day milk.”

Art and Artists

• The Taliban is against much art. In 1996, the Taliban rose to power in Afghanistan and immediately forbade paintings that depicted animals or humans. An Afghan physician named Muhammad Yousef Asefi, who was also an artist, wished to preserve this kind of art. Therefore, he used watercolor to paint over animals and humans, thereby disguising them. Dr. Asefi said about the Taliban, “They were determined to destroy the culture of Afghanistan. Gradually, step by step, they would have come around to destroying my paintings.” After the Taliban fell from power in Afghanistan in 2001, Dr. Asefi used a wet sponge to remove the watercolor and restore the paintings to their original condition. Dr. Asefi said about the removal of the watercolor, “Taking it off is easy.” However, he added, “Putting it on was very difficult.” Dr. Asefi preserved much art for future generations to see.

• Pablo Picasso created his mural Guernica to protest the 26 April 1937 bombing of the Basque village Guernica by Fascists using German airplanes. The planes killed 1,654 and wounded 889 of the village’s population of 7,000. During World War II, when the Nazis occupied France, Picasso stayed in Paris. Frequently, the police came to his studio, but he simply smiled and gave them postcards picturing his Guernica. Once, a German officer asked him about Guernica, “Did you do this?” Picasso replied, “No, you did.”

• While living and painting at Zaandam, which is near Amsterdam, Impressionist painter Claude Monet bought some groceries and carried them home, where he discovered that they had been wrapped in paper that was actually a work of art — a brilliantly colored Japanese wood-block print. Mr. Monet went back to the grocery store and bought the rest of the prints, thus starting a collection that greatly influenced his own art.

• Artist James Abbott McNeill Whistler was once asked why he was so rude to so many people. He replied, “Early in life I made the discovery that I was charming, and if one is delightful, one has to thrust the world away to keep from being bored to death.”


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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