Have You Made a Loving Portrait of Your Four-Legged Friend During Quarantine? This Pet Portrait Open Call May Be for You

A selling exhibition will benefit the Best Friends Animal Society, a no-kill animal sanctuary and pet welfare organization.

Thelma Appel, Daisy in Quarantine (2020). Courtesy of the artist and Alpha 137 Gallery.
Thelma Appel, Daisy in Quarantine (2020). Courtesy of the artist and Alpha 137 Gallery.

Furry friends have been providing much-needed companionship for pet owners during this long, isolated quarantine period, and many people have become pet owners for the first time, with adoption rates soared in highly affected cities such as New York. And for some artists trapped at home with their four-legged friends, their pets have even become their models. 

But times are not universally good for pets. Changing financial circumstances brought on by the pandemic mean that many family pets have been given up for adoption, and sometimes even abandoned. The best-of-times, worst-of-times reality got Nadine Witkin, and art advisor and director of Alpha 137 Gallery, thinking about a way to help animals in need.  

“My father, a modernist sculptor who died in 2006, had seven shelter cats that helped him get through loneliness, illness, and even the aftermath of September 11,” she says. “Because of that, I was especially touched by the countless stories of pets who have been helping artists get through today’s crisis.” 

Thelma Appel, <i>Molly and Ari, Universal Love</i> (2020). Courtesy of the artist and Alpha 137 Gallery.

Thelma Appel, Molly and Ari, Universal Love (2020). Courtesy of the artist and Alpha 137 Gallery.

Now Witkin—a self-proclaimed “cat mom”—has kicked off “Pets of the Pandemic” an open call for portraits of pets. The works will be sold off to benefit the Best Friends Animal Society, a no-kill animal sanctuary and welfare organization, with half the proceeds going to the artists. (Alpha 137 Gallery will take no commission.)

Sculptors, painters, printmakers, and mixed-media artists living in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania are eligible to apply. Pet portraits must have been made since March 1, 2020. 

Submissions will be juried by David Cohen, an art historian, critic, and dog-dad to his pup, Allegra. Winning artworks will then be offered for sale online on the gallery’s website and on Artnet, with works priced between $500 and $700 dollars, so as to be accessible to pet lovers of many budgets. 

Interested artists and pet lovers can learn more about how to submit here. Submissions are accepted through Thursday, July 16, with the sale opening on Tuesday, September 1, at 10:00 a.m.


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