The Next Klaus Biesenbark? Meet Rocky, the Canine Curator Who Is Unleasing dOGUMENTA on LA

Rocky and his human co-curator Jessica Dawson are organizing a Los Angeles edition of dOGUMENTA, the art show for dogs.

Rocky, canine co-curator of dOGUMENTA, with Merav Ezer's TOM, the first limited-edition artwork created exclusively for dogs. Photo courtesy of dOGUMENTA.

Last year, the art world barked up a new tree with dOGUMENTA, the first-ever art exhibition specifically designed to cater to the taste of man’s best friend. The show was such a hit with furry art aficionados that its founders—Jessica Dawson, Mica Scalin, and Rocky (Dawson’s Maltese Yorkshire terrier mix and canine co-curator)—are taking it on the road, with plans to open a West Coast version of the exhibition in Los Angeles this September.

“That my four-legged friend could sniff out some of the best contemporary art came as a shock,” Dawson told artnet News via email. She said she was inspired to found dOGUMENTA because of Rocky’s unflagging enthusiasm for the Chelsea art scene. “Then I understood that a canine sensibility might be the key to navigating today’s complex art world.”

“The rabid response to our first exhibition made it clear that we’d unleashed something big,” Dawson added. “Pups nationwide are hungry for culture, and this exhibition treats West Coast canines to the stimulating creative experiences they’re hungry for.”

The California edition of dOGUMENTA, held at the FIGat7th shopping center in Downtown Los Angeles, will feature eight brand-new works by local artists. Presented by Arts Brookfield, it will be free and open to the public.

With any luck, the event will help Rocky enter the ranks of the art world’s illustrious doggy dynamos, such as Carolyn Christov-Barkargiev, Okwui Enwoofzor, and Beatrix Ruff.

Rocky, canine co-curator of dOGUMENTA, tours the LA art scene ahead of the show's West Coast edition. Photo courtesy of dOGUMENTA.

Rocky, canine co-curator of dOGUMENTA, tours the LA art scene ahead of the show’s West Coast edition. Photo courtesy of dOGUMENTA.

“When Rocky and the dOGUMENTA curatorial team visited LA last December, we were blown away by how many pups had been unleashed on the downtown art scene,” Dawson said. “There were Labradoodles at Hauser and Wirth, Morkies at a Standard Hotel art opening, and pups of all breeds marking the amazing murals covering the walls of the downtown arts district.”

dOGUMENTA took New York and its dog lovers by storm last August, attracting 4,000 guests, including a cat, a turtle, and no fewer than 1,400 dogs. There were edible artworks, a meditative pool where dogs could cool off, and even a sculpture that changed color as it was peed on—an homage to Andy Warhol’s “Oxidation” paintings. Among his doggie brethren, Rocky’s curatorial debut was nothing short of a triumph.

“The tremendously pawsative response to dOGUMENTA NY reinforced Rocky’s commitment to trusting his nose, going with his gut and remaining open-minded and curious,” Dawson said. “You could say he’s even more confident now—he’s engaging more deeply in the process.”

Merav Ezer's <em>The Barking Project</em> at the first edition of dOGUMENTA. Photo courtesy of dOGUMENTA.

Merav Ezer’s The Barking Project at the first edition of dOGUMENTA. Photo courtesy of dOGUMENTA.

“All the LA-based artists we met with have unique approaches to art-making, so we’re confident that the West Coast edition will feel totally fresh,” she added. “You can still expect artworks that will appeal to the sensibilities, interests, and world views of four-legged patrons, realized in a broad range of media.”

If you and your pup missed the New York show, and can’t make it out to LA, don’t lose heart: dOGUMENTA is also introducing a new artwork designed specifically for dogs. Merav Ezer’s TOM, which comes in a limited edition of 25, is based on The Barking Project, the artist’s contribution to the first dOGUMENTA.

The interactive sculpture, a dog-shaped silhouette featuring a motion sensor, starts barking as its dog owner approaches. Produced with a Couple of Artists studio, it’s being billed as “part Dachshund, part artificial intelligence,” and the “first-ever limited-edition artwork made exclusively for the canine collector.”

TOM will encourage canine collectors to continue conversations not just with the artwork but also with their human companions,” Dawson said. “For those humans who aren’t sure how to talk to their pups about contemporary art, TOM is an excellent place to start.”

See more photos of Dawson and co-curator Rocky below.

Rocky, canine co-curator of dOGUMENTA, tours the LA art scene ahead of the show's West Coast edition. Photo courtesy of dOGUMENTA.

Rocky, canine co-curator of dOGUMENTA, tours the LA art scene ahead of the show’s West Coast edition. Photo courtesy of dOGUMENTA.

Rocky, canine co-curator of dOGUMENTA, tours the LA art scene ahead of the show's West Coast edition. Photo courtesy of dOGUMENTA.

Rocky, canine co-curator of dOGUMENTA, tours the LA art scene ahead of the show’s West Coast edition. Photo courtesy of dOGUMENTA.

Rocky, canine co-curator of dOGUMENTA, tours the LA art scene ahead of the show's West Coast edition. Photo courtesy of dOGUMENTA.

Rocky, canine co-curator of dOGUMENTA, tours the LA art scene ahead of the show’s West Coast edition. Photo courtesy of dOGUMENTA.

Rocky, canine co-curator of dOGUMENTA, tours the LA art scene ahead of the show's West Coast edition. Photo courtesy of dOGUMENTA.

Rocky, canine co-curator of dOGUMENTA, tours the LA art scene ahead of the show’s West Coast edition. Photo courtesy of dOGUMENTA.

Rocky, canine co-curator of dOGUMENTA, tours the LA art scene ahead of the show's West Coast edition. Photo courtesy of dOGUMENTA.

Rocky, canine co-curator of dOGUMENTA, tours the LA art scene ahead of the show’s West Coast edition. Photo courtesy of dOGUMENTA.

“dOGUMENTA” will be on view at FIGat7th, 735 S Figueroa St, Los Angeles, September 14–16 and 21–23.


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