Who let the dogs in? Kimbell celebrates canines with first-ever Dog Day as new painting debuts

Kimbell Dog Day Best Costume winner Loki (Photo by Amber Shumake)

Indie and Lily arrived ready for a fiesta.

The two canine besties were festooned with colorful bandanas and pink bows affixed to the top of their heads. Indie, a sheepadoodle – a combination of an Old English Sheepdog and a Standard Poodle – even  had her tail dyed pink, with dog-safe fur color.

“I just got back from a trip to Mexico and was still in the spirit,” said Indie’s owner, Nickie Maxson of Arlington.

With a canine costume contest on the line at the Kimbell Art Museum’s first-ever Kimbell Dog Day event, what better opportunity to dress for success?

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Maxson and Kim and Daniel Murphree of Arlington, owners of Lily, a Labradoodle – a Labrador Retriever and poodle mix – are regulars on the Dallas-dog event scene. They all met at a dog obedience class in Arlington.

Despite their colorful fashion statements, Indie and Lily didn’t go home with any of the prizes from the Aug. 26 event that marked the debut of the Kimbell’s newest acquisition – which features a dog – and coincided with National Dog Day.

The free event drew several hundred dogs and their humans, including art lovers eager for a first look at Dog Guarding a Basket of Grapes by Austrian artist Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller.

Kimbell Executive Director Eric M. Lee described Waldmüller (1793-1865) as one of the most influential Austrian artists of the 19th century. Painted in 1836, Dog Guarding a Basket of Grapes hasn’t been seen in more than 50 years, he said.

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From an artistic perspective, the painting combines the genres of still life, animal portraiture and landscape painting, Lee said.

“This is an incredibly popular painting and we expect it will become one of the most popular and beloved in our collection,” Lee said.

The painting debuted in the museum’s Kahn Building in an uremarkable brown wood frame, which Lee said would soon be replaced.

“We found the perfect frame for it,” Lee said. “It’s coming from Paris in a week or so.”

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Lee acknowledged that in France, and many European countries, work is typically suspended during August so delivery of the frame was delayed.

Nevertheless, the celebration went on as scheduled with a variety of activities dog owners could enjoy with their canine companions, including free pet drawings, refreshing ice cream and shaved ice treats for both people and dogs, art activities and a pet parade and competition with categories for small dogs, large dogs, best costume, dog that most resembles the dog in Waldmüller’s painting, and overall “Best in Show.”

Although Hattie wasn’t decked out in a costume, she was greeted with applause and cheers as she ambled across the stage during the pet parade. The spotted Great Dane won in the biggest-dog category as much for her resilience as her tremendous size.

Hattie was born in Florida with her umbilical cord wrapped around one of her legs and had to have most of the leg amputated shortly after birth.

But Connor Teague and his wife, Allie Taschuk, were not dissuaded by her disability. They drove to Florida to pick up the rescue dog, now 2 ½ years old.

The couple then had a prosthetic leg custom made for her at Baker Orthotics & Prosthetics in Fort Worth so she is able to more easily get around.

“She does really well with the prosthetic,” Teague said.

The winner of the costume contest was Loki, a Dandie Dinmont Terrier, sporting a traditional tartan outfit and cap, befitting his Scottish heritage.

Loki’s owner, Mike Vreeland of Arlington, eagerly ticks off details about the Dandie Dinmont Terrier, which is one of the rarest and most endangered breeds, with only 4,000 known to exist in the world.

“They are almost as endangered as the giant panda with 2,600 remaining,” Vreeland said.

The dog that won the prize for most resembling the dog in the painting was an Akita puppy named Echo owned by Kimbell employee Brandon Barnes.

The Best in Show award went to Kona and Koby, a pair of toy Austrian Shepherds owned by Tai Yasuda of Fort Worth.

Judges for the event were Nancy Lamb, visual artist; Laura Lape, social media personality; and master of ceremonies Tony Green, host of “Hello, I’m Tony Green,” NBC Texas Today correspondent and host of “On the Same Page” podcast.

Prizes included Kimbell merchandise, a gift certificate to the Kimbell Café, tickets to an upcoming Kimbell special exhibit and a gift basket from Hollywood Feed for the Best in Show winner.