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Tails of NWCT


Dogs come in all colors, shapes and sizes in the 21st century but none so colorful or creative as the dogs crafted for Tails of NWCT.

The project, sponsored by the Northwest Connecticut Arts Council, Northwest Connecticut Chamber Education Foundation and Prime Time House, is a collaborative public art project designed to build a sense of community in the region, promote tourism, and enhance the exposure of local artists.

Local artists have been invited to create wildly innovative interpretations of the canine form by painting or decorating one or more of four different fiberglass models of dogs.

The end result is a copy of canines the likes of which have never been seen before—ranging from Jennifer Atkins “Love Puppy,” which is dotted with hearts, to the psychedelic “Wildstyle Dog” by Steph Burr, to the pastoral “Through the Eyes of a Dog” by Tommy Birk who rendered the dog’s coat as a bucolic landscape.

Southington artist Lonnie DiNello opted to do two dogs for the project. A face painter and a caricaturist by trade, DiNello chose to bring two styles of painting she has used in the past to her project to create two distinctly different dogs, the luminescent “Star Dog,” and the complex, “Zen Puppy.”

“I chose types of artwork I had done on other 3-D objects,” she explained. “I had done the stars previously on wine glasses—you don’t have to put a lot of planning into it, you can do it as you go along. There is a lot of sponge work on the dog.”

She said this meditative process was a welcome change from her usual work. “When I am face painting and doing caricatures, I have to be spot-on but with this I could just let it go.”

The other design DiNello submitted is more complicated but equally meditative. “I have done a lot of Zentangles and Zendoodles in my sketchbooks,” she said, “and I thought it would be neat to do it on a dog. Last year, I did them on some sneakers and they looked so go, and I got so many compliments, I figures, ‘Why not try that.”

Zentangles are a way of drawing using structured patterns while deliberately creating a mood, focus, and state of mind.

DiNello said she did “Star Dog” in acrylic paints but for the more precise patterns on “Zen Puppy” she found paint brushes inadequate to the job. “I couldn’t get the detail,” she confessed. “So, I got acrylic pens.” Some of the designs on the dog were created with a pen so fine it had a one-millimeter tip.

“Star Dog” and “Zen Puppy,” like all the dogs created for the project, are finished with a durable coating that makes them weather resistant.

The 39 canine creations have now been distributed around Litchfield County and area residents and tourists are encouraged to tour the region to seek them out before the project ends on Columbus Day Weekend. A map of where they are located can be found on the website along with a list to be completed by the visitors. Visitors who fill out the form detailing the correct dog’s name at each location become eligible to win prizes.

Some of the dogs have already been purchased by the organizations and businesses sponsoring them but the remaining dogs will be sold at the “Tails of NWCT” Auction on Saturday, October 20, at Chatterley’s Banquet Facility in Torrington. All proceeds will benefit the three collaborating organizations, enabling them to strengthen arts and culture, provide scholarship opportunities and improve the mental health of those living in Northwest Connecticut.

“We look forward to another outstanding public art project through this collaboration with Prime Time House, the Northwest Connecticut Arts Council and the Chamber’s Education Foundation” said JoAnn Ryan, president & CEO of the Northwest Connecticut Chamber of Commerce. “This gives us the opportunity to showcase our special northwest Connecticut region to residents and visitors alike and highlights the participants, artists and community.”

For more information about the project, visit the link below or call the Northwest Connecticut Chamber of Commerce at 860-482-6586.