Arts & Culture

Love for dogs revealed in artwork

“Angel” by Joan Frimberger
“Angel” by Joan Frimberger Courtesy photo

Joan Frimberger is a painter and a dog lover. The playful personalities of dogs have always captivated her, and that’s an interest she enjoys exploring on canvas. When the Edmond, Okla., artist found out there’s a show devoted to canine art, she knew she had to be part of it. Her “Angel” painting depicting a tall and pensive hound won the Best in Show prize at the Art Show at the Dog Show.

“We’re definitely a dog family; we have four in our house,” said Frimberger, whose entry marked her first involvement with the annual show. “I just love the personalities. I love it when I can give them an expression so people can see what they’re thinking. I get a lot of joy out of painting dogs.”

Frimberger is among the 110 artists exhibiting more than 180 pieces of art as part of the juried show, now in its 29th year. An opening reception will be held Friday at CityArts, where artwork will be on display through March 21. The exhibition will then be packed up to be showcased during the Sunflower Cluster Dog Show that will take place April 3-6 at the Kansas Coliseum Pavilions.

The art show and the dog show are sponsored by Purina and the Sunflower Cluster Dog Shows, which is made up of the Wichita Kennel Club, Wichita Dog Training Club, Hutchinson Kennel Club and Salina Kennel Club.

Pat Deshler, who has chaired the event for the past 19 years, said the fact that it’s the only exhibit devoted exclusively to “man’s best friend” makes it stand out. Artists from all over Kansas, as well as across the country and even a few internationally, are participating.

“Lots of diversity, from fun stuff to really serious artwork,” Deshler said of this year’s collection. “I think this show stands apart because most everybody likes dogs.”

Artists who submit works compete for prizes in multiple categories arranged by artistic genre and dog breed. Dogs are depicted across a wide range of genres including paintings, pastels, photographs, sculpture and mixed media. The works incorporate canines from dachshunds to poodles to Labradors and more. In addition to the breeds, there’s a fun mix of colors and expressions.

Jose V. Garibay of St. Peter, Minn., mixes vibrant hues and Chinese zen imagery in “Mark of the Prince.” An excited face greets viewers in “Sooo Happy to See You” by Deirdre Justin, of Richmond, Va. Anne N. Smith of Jefferson City, Tenn., shows a satisfied beagle with a mouthful of freshly hunted turkey in “The Prize.” Elizabeth Corbett of Iola spotlights a curious creature with piercing eyes ready to go for a drive in “Blue Rider.” Jane Aiken of Wichita has a poignant pastel of a light-brown dachshund in “Golden Girl.”

Bob Workman, director of the Ulrich Museum of Art at Wichita State University, was one of the jurors this year. A dachshund owner, he said he naturally gravitated to works depicting that breed but remained objective. It was his first time to interact with the show. He was impressed by the depth of the artwork and talent of the artists.

“In some cases it’s hyper-realism and in other cases they’re very expressive,” he said. “They can convey a strong sense of the animal or the activity of the animal in real economy. What’s fun about this is you’ll see works by people who are really proficient in painting dogs, and then you’ll also see works by someone who is painting their pet – someone who may be self-trained. You get a mix of more polished work to works that are really emotive and powerful because they’re communicating their own love for their animal in the work.”

Workman said the artists clearly have a great love and knowledge of their subjects.

“A lot of them really understand the breed and the nuances and characteristics of the animals themselves,” he said.

“What makes them fun is those works that are just quirky and someone capturing the way their dog made them laugh or that silly expression on their face. They’re all over the place, but it’s steeped in the full knowledge of the animal.”

If you go

29th Annual Art Show at the Dog Show

What: A competitive art exhibition with works featuring canines from local, national and international artists

Where: CityArts, 334 N. Mead

When: 5-8 p.m. Final Friday opening reception. Works on display through March 21 during normal gallery hours, 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Mondays-Fridays and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays

How much: Free

Information: or 316-350-3245