Nick Cave Inspires DAM Staff to Share Pet "Rescues"

Note: Dog rescue organizations have designated October as National Adopt a Shelter Dog Month. In honor of that, and to bid farewell to Nick Cave's Rescues, some of us on the Denver Art Museum staff share our rescue pets (cats included).

About a year ago, Nick Cave happened upon a life-sized, white, ceramic poodle and a regally seated Doberman in some of his regular flea-market excursions. It became clear to Cave that these dogs would become a central motif for the sculptures he would eventually call Rescues.

The artist began drawing connections between these flea-market canines and representations of dogs in art history and the role they play in hip-hop culture. The artist also a saw a thread linking the act of rescuing dogs at animal shelters with his own aesthetic drive to "rescue" and repurpose once forgotten, discarded objects into something wholly new and unexpected.

In the DAM’s recent Q & A session with Nick Cave, the artist shared that, if any of his flea-market Rescues could talk, he imagines they would say, “I matter." We took a cue from this simple, yet powerful, statement and asked the Denver Art Museum staff to send in pictures of their own rescued pets. The only parameter we set was that the animals needed to be posed on a piece of furniture. The response was overwhelming, and because it was impossible to choose only one among the numerous "glamour shots" submitted of each pet, we've included "outtakes" at the end of the slide show. We hope you enjoy the photos as much as we enjoyed taking them.

In addition, our press office received a wonderfully unexpected email from a family who was so inspired by Nick Cave's exhibition, and the Rescues in particular, that they constructed their own "Rescue" made out of found objects. Check out Frank DeCew's and Mathilde Von Thun's (both 12-years-old) amazing creation, complete with rescue dogs Oscar and Jake.

Front Row: Daisy and Duke; Back Row: Boogie

Christoph Heinrich, Frederick and Jan Mayer Director

The always regal Alma!

Christoph Heinrich, Frederick and Jan Mayer Director


Christoph Heinrich, Frederick and Jan Mayer Director

Well, I know it's not a couch. And I don't even know what a settee is, but this is how I can really relax!

Yours, Chance

Christoph Heinrich, Frederick and Jan Mayer Director

Deion was born on the banks of the Guadalupe River in Texas, where Jeff and his son Parker found him one summer day while fishing. Instead of catching fish that day they caught a new pet. It didn’t seem that the young kitten was interested in his new friends at first, but by the time the fishing trip was over Deion had followed them to their car and was eager to see what adventures Jeff and Parker had in store for him. Deion has been a part of the family for over 14 years and even braved the move to Colorado with Jeff and Angela.

Angela Houdyshell, coordinator of teacher resources

Daisey was rescued from outside Dallas, TX in 2006 from the side of the road where she was advertised as free.

Amy Daley, accounting manager

Lobo was rescued from Town Lake Animal Shelter in Austin, TX in 2002 by my husband Matt. He was the “dog of the day” because he had been there so long. He is glad to be spending his retirement years in cooler Colorado.

Amy Daley, accounting manager

This is Vishnu. He's named after the Hindu god who sleeps and dreams the world. My husband rescued him and brought him home about eight years ago.

Carleen Brice, communications associate

Here are Bubba and Bernini. They are both from Montana, where Bernini was rescued from a puppy mill that didn't want him because he has cataracts. They are the breed called Brussels griffon.

Courtney Smith, modern and contemporary art department intern

The modern and contemporary art department's intern, Courtney Smith, rescued Cheech from a puppy mill in Lancaster, CA. Courtney shared:

"Cheech was severely underweight, because he was being fed dry food as an eight-week-old puppy and had a terrible case of worms. He still has a lot of health problems. He's had numerous surgeries (on his eyes and knees), has food and seasonal allergies, and already has arthritis as a four-year-old dog. A vet once told me, 'If there was a lemon law for dogs, I'd say you got a dud.' But he's really been the best thing to ever happen to me!"

This is Frank, short for Frankenstein. He is part blue heeler and the rest we don't know. He was rescued the week before his expiration date, he was about six months old. He's six now and very happy and mostly mellow. He loves my dad's chair. Although he never knew him, Frank likes to snuggle in the chair. I think he picks up Dad's vibes.

Evelyn Waldron, bookkeeper

Mick is a four-year-old Australian shepherd mix. We found him in the first kennel at the third shelter we visited. He was two months old, and I was three months pregnant. His first family had to give him up because their much older dog had gotten too aggressive with him. That bump in my belly is now three years old and asks before bed, "Can I give my 'brother' a hug and kiss?"

Fairlight Baer-Gutierrez, digital communications manager

Henry (in homage to King Henry VIII because he is big and regal!) is a handsome two-year-old Maine coon who is bright, confident, and very playful. I rescued him about two months ago from Every Creature Counts, a shelter in Fort Lupton, CO which rescues pets from high-kill shelters throughout the West and Midwest.

Gina Laurin, senior objects conservator

Sadie is our eight-year-old great Great Dane rescued five years ago. Shortly after adopting Sadie, we began to notice she had trouble seeing in low-light situations. Since then, we have learned she has progressive retinal atrophy and it has progressed to the point of blindness now. But don't feel sorry for this girl! She gets around fine in our house and yard and walks twice a day in the 'hood, which she is sure belongs to her as well! She is the best dog ever and has fulfilled all my fantasies about having a great dog.

Greg McKay, associate director of retail operations

This is my family's rescue dog Sammy. He's a mutt, but we know that he's part Louisiana Catahoula Leopard dog, Great Dane, Lab, and chow. He currently lives in Arkansas with the rest of my family, but I know he would love Colorado! He is the most energetic puppy any of us have ever seen! We all believe that he knows he was saved because of the large amount of kisses he is always giving us! Funny thing too is that he LOVES his chairs.

Hannah French, family programs intern

Murphy, an eight-year-old Australian shepherd mix, rescued in South Carolina. Loves taking walks and naps on the couch, and will do anything for peanut butter–except fetch a ball.

Jaime Kopke, adult and college programs manager

Here is Alice. She is a three-year-old Russian blue (I think). My husband and I rescued her (and the chair!) in Albuquerque near the UNM area. She loves to play fetch and catch spiders.

Jesse Laird Ortega, project assistant, modern and contemporary art department

George Desmond (AKA, Georgie) finds the perfect spot to nap.

Jill Desmond, associate director of exhibitions and collections services

Cobi, the cat, and Cecil, the dog.

Kara Kudzma, exhibitions project manager

Plu and Bliss relaxing in modernist style.

Kara Kudzma, exhibitions project manager

Here's Sully, a very content rescue!

Kara Kudzma, exhibitions project manager

This is Alameda, whom I adopted from Adams County animal shelter 2 years ago. Now 4 years old, she is still very much a kitten at heart and never ceases to surprise me with her quirky antics, like burrowing in the couch cushions and playing with her all time favorite toy, a red plastic stick, always with a very earnest expression on her face.

Kate Moomaw, assistant conservator for modern and contemporary art

Here’s my sweet pup Knox. I rescued him two years ago when he was one year old. When he came to me he was underweight, had a puncture wound in his side, and was very skittish. Now, he’s sociable, sweet, and “in charge” at our house!

Karen Brooks, department assistant, Petrie Institute of Western American Art

We adopted Stella, a Labrador retriever mix, on Valentine’s Day this past year, bringing her home from the Colorado Cell Dogs program where unwanted dogs are paired with an inmate for socialization and training. Unruly dogs go in and are turned into well-behaved pets ready for adoption. Some of these strays even end up working as service or therapy companions. In prison, Stella learned her basic good manners, plus some party tricks, too! When we brought her home she already had 12 tricks in her repertoire. We are so grateful for the Cell Dogs program—it changed Stella’s life and ours.

Katie Ross, associate director of marketing

Bob is a hound/Lab mix rescued from Boulder Humane Society. He lives in Salida, Colorado and loves everything and everybody. Really.

Kristin Bonk Fong, curatorial assistant, painting and sculpture

Miles was rescued from the Dumb Friends League in 2008. He loves snuggles and getting petted–except when he doesn’t.

Kristin Bonk Fong, curatorial assistant, painting ans sculpture

Yeti is a Lab/border collie/greyhound mix and was rescued from the Dumb Friends League in 2010. He loves people, his four-legged friends, swimming, hiking, and everything else except baths.

Kristin Bonk Fong, curatorial assistant, painting and sculpture

Tikaboo was rescued last year from Chafee County Animal Shelter. She lives in Salida, Colorado, and runs the house, dogs and all.

Kristin Bonk Fong, curatorial assistant, painting and sculpture

Tank and his BFF Lucca. Both very important rescues.

Jana Gottshalk, curatorial assistant, new world

My 30lb cat Pig.

Jana Gottshalk, curatorial assistant, new world

Left: Clinton (Doberman); Right: Dakota (German shepherd)

Laura Grant, executive assistant to the director

This is my rescue cat LaTarian Milton. Before I adopted him from Every Creature Counts, he was in a car accident and lost a leg. LaTarian is my three-legged adopted cat that loves to take naps on my "flea market find" chair!

Maddie Samuel, education programs facilitator

Here's Rocky-dog and my dog/cat Fig. They are in love. Obviously.

Rocky was rescued from New Mexico and Fig is my wonderfully amazing dog/cat!

We fell in love with Fig while working on a project at Foothills Animal Shelter.

He plays fetch, waits for you to walk through the front door, and sleeps with you (under covers). He is the ultimate dog/cat.

Kelley Vincent, staff accountant

This is Desmond (and Fig). Dessy girl was rescued 14 years ago and she’s the boss.

Kelley Vincent, staff accountant

This is Marley, a beagle/basset rescue I picked up in Nashville, TN. Marley prefers the soft bed of fall leaves to a settee!

Jody Ternus, sales manager

This is Echo my four-month-old kitten who I rescued from the Cat Care Society a couple of months ago.

Megan Lynch, exhibition assistant

Sebastian...just being silly.

Danielle Stephens, master teacher for modern and contemporary art

Belle and Sebastian

Danielle Stephens, master teacher for modern and contemporary art

This is a photo of Kitty relaxing at home in her favorite spot.

I took her home from the Dumb Friends League in 1996. She was a great companion!

Donna Kerwin, curatorial assistant, department of architecture, design & graphics

Her name is Bathory. She's named after a historical figure. She likes to chase june bugs.

Rachel Sinclair, guest services coordinator

Isaac, adopted in 2013.

Melora McDermott-Lewis, director of education

This is Frida in her favorite place to sit: her (now very grimy) yellow, flowered chair. We adopted Frida from the mobile pet rescue, but she had been in the Denver pound.

Micah Messenheimer, curatorial assistant, department of photography

Here’s Tucker our fabulous orange tabby who we rescued from the animal shelter when he was a tiny kitten. He definitely matters!

Nancy Blomberg, chief curator and curator of Native Arts

Eleven years ago someone from accounting brought her into the office and said, "Do you want this kitten I have in my car?

If not I'm taking her to the shelter." What could I do? I named her Mildred but my daughter renamed her Mulan.

Laura Caruso, senior editor & manager of museum publications

This is our sweet boy Anoki. We rescued him a year and a half ago through the Bernese Mountain Dog Club of the Rockies.

How do you say no to that face?!

Sarah Gott, education program facilitator

Here's Anoki with rescue kitty Hans.

Sarah Gott, education program facilitator

This is my family dog Foster, who was suppose to just be a foster dog (see how clever we were in naming him!).

We adopted him way back in 2004 so he is a bit of an old man now. He prefers closets and kitchen cupboards to comfortable couches;

he gets lost rather easily, and although a strange one, you can't help but love him.

Brie Sexton, jr. designer/production assistant

Here's rescue pup Buddha.

Nicole Parks, curatorial assistant, Petrie Institute of Western American Art

Here is my cat Chase. He's eight years old. I got him from the Cat Society.

Rosemary Fox, security officer

Here's Stella, adopted from the Denver Dumb Friends League in 2004.

Sarah Cucinella-McDaniel, associate registrar, rights and reproductions

Here's my orange tabby cat, Osker. Osker was a street cat that followed me home in 2008 and has never left my side since. He is such a great cat that he changed my husband who used to not like cats into a major cat fan.

Stephanie Skiles Gilmore, assistant registrar, on-call

Bitzer we adopted from Rocky Mountain Lab Rescue in the summer of 2012. He is such a sweet dog, and he loves peanut butter. =)

Stephanie Skiles Gilmore, assistant registrar, on-call

It was love at first sight when we spied "Mikey" through the window at Denver's Dumb Friends' League shelter ten years ago, but we were told that someone else had put a hold on him, so we began looking for other dogs. Luckily, the hold was canceled before we left the shelter and we took him to his new home less than two hours later. Very vocal from the start, but otherwise sweet and loving, the two-year-old mutt we renamed Jasper has been a wonderful, if noisy, companion to us ever since!

Renée Miller, curatorial assistant, modern and contemporary art department

Here is my awesome schnoodle Ludo. I found him almost 8 years ago at the pound in Albuquerque NM. He is the best dog that ever was.

Madalena Salazar, latino cultural programs coordinator

Here's my (female!) cat, Gary. I got her at the anti-cruelty society in 1999 when I was a grad student at University of Chicago.

They estimated she was about a year old at the time, so she had had a difficult first year on the streets of Chicago.

Even though we just celebrated her 14th birthday (the anniversary of when I got her, Oct. 4),

she's still skittish around people she doesn't know and scares easily.

But we love her and she snuggles with us when it counts. Gary has lived in four cities:

Chicago, New York, Miami, and Denver. Mile high living suits her best.

Stefania Van Dyke, master teacher for textile art and special projects

Lina was returned to an Atlanta cat rescue by the people who had adopted her and her littermate 4 years earlier.

She was left outside to fend for herself and had never seen a vet. We don’t know what happened to her brother.

I brought her home to play with Mr. Lonely and they have been inseparable ever since.

She’s a little off-kilter from her early life experiences but she has blossomed into a sweet, although slightly wacky, little girl and we can’t imagine our family without her.

Jenna Madison, manager of studio and artist programs

Mr. Lonely was a feral kitten that found his way on to my mom’s property in rural Georgia. He was starving and beat up and needed a home.

We had just lost our cat of 13 years and were not really ready for a new baby but when we went to visit Mr. Lonely (who hugs you when you hold him) we fell in love, as does everyone who meets him.

Although he has grown up to be a big 15 pound boy, our gentle giant is still a cuddly kitty.

Jenna Madison, manager of studio and artist programs

Here's Gnarly a rescue who seemingly can sleep anywhere.

Thomas Smith, Director, Petrie Institute of Western American Art

Twelve-year-old Lila (Yorkie) was rescued from a "kill shelter" in L.A. She's still getting used to the Wild Westa day before this photo, she rolled in some sticky grass so we had to shave her. And Blackie (a heeler, named after Supreme Court Justice, Hugo Black) comes from Utah.

Rose Eason, coordinator of adult and college programs

My son, Frank DeCew and my niece Mathilde Von Thun, both 12, were so inspired by the Nick Cave exhibit that they built a chair for our dogs out of found objects. The chair was found in the alley, the canopy was built from found wood and dead branches cut from trees in the back yard. The jewelry was culled from collections from two grandmas and a great grandma. All work was done by Mathilde and Frank with no help. The dog is Oscar. I hope you enjoy this as much as they did.

Lynn VanDeWater DeCew

Oscar (on the chair) is a rescue dog that my son Frank and my husband gave to me for my 50th birthday. Jake is our other rescue dog.

Lynn VanDeWater DeCew

And here are some outtakes beginning with Gnerdly, A.K.A. Gnarley.

Renée B. Miller is the curatorial assistant in the modern and contemporary department. Renée has been at the DAM since 2008. She recommends that visitors don’t miss Modern Masters: 20th Century Icons from the Albright-Knox Art Gallery on level 2 of the Hamilton Building.