Pamela Hornik commissioned "Stroll," by Jiab Prachakul; the Thai-born, Lyon-based artist, who won the prestigious first prize in the BP Portrait Award 2020, had her first solo show at Micki Meng's gallery in San Francisco in 2021.
“Sarama,” by visual artist Jamil Hellu, who holds a BFA in photography from the San Francisco Art Institute and an MFA in art practice from Stanford University, is among the works that will be included in Some Dogs.
Like a lot of folks, Pamela Hornik found that her social media usage swelled in the early days of the pandemic. She started the Instagram series Two Minutes With Teddy, which films the art patron and collector with her 10-year-old rescue dog in tow, discussing works in her Palo Alto home. Unable to view most art in person during lockdown — or keep up her volunteer duties at Stanford’s Cantor Arts Center, where she is also on the Director’s Advisory Board — Hornik began following more artists, galleries and museums online.
And much to her husband’s chagrin, Hornik acquired an inordinate number of pieces depicting canines. “David was like, ‘This is out of control.’ He would joke that it was better that I had more dog paintings and dog photos than more dogs,” she recalls, adding that “the role of dogs for me is comfort and healing, and it really helped with my anxiety.”
Hornik procured her first dog art, a Kathryn Lynch charcoal drawing, in 2010. Four years later, Teddy, a Maltese and Chihuahua mix, was adopted as an emotional support dog for Hornik’s daughter — the third of her four children — but soon became a constant companion for Hornik herself. During the pandemic, she says, “the crazy, obsessive dog-art buying really took off.”
Today, her dog art totals more than 100, about a quarter of her figurative-focused collection. While her New York City apartment’s 17-foot-long “dog wall” is lined with 30 works, most are in storage in San Francisco. Now, she says, it’s time to pull them out so they can be enjoyed as a group — at least for a couple of weeks. The pop-up show Some Dogs runs April 24 through May 7 at Four One Nine. Although the SoMa venue is private, there will be public events and viewing hours.
Hornik tapped PJ Gubatina Policarpio to organize the presentation. “From a curator perspective, how these contemporary artists incorporate dogs into their work was interesting to me,” says Policarpio, currently the associate director of Micki Meng’s eponymous galleries in the City, and formerly of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. “What I love about Pamela and David is that they make these connections with the artists,” he continues. “So I want the show to be personal and meaningful and tell a story.”
Indeed, while Hornik envisions it as “for fun, a way to gather the community around a collection that brings me joy,” there is an underlying theme of relationships. “You can see the human-dog bond,” she observes, “but there’s also a human-human bond that’s going into the making of this show — like my relationship to PJ, to [Four One Nine founder] Sonya Yu and to certain artists.”
Policarpio anticipates featuring more than 50 paintings, drawings, photographs and sculptures by artists of wide-ranging backgrounds — among them, Ania Hobson, Jiab Prachakul, Amir H. Fallah, LJ Roberts, Gordon Parks and Robert Mapplethorpe. A John Hiltunen collage will be on display; a favorite of Hornik’s, he practiced at Creative Growth, the Oakland studio that supports artists with disabilities. A small work on paper by Clare Rojas, commissioned through Jessica Silverman Gallery, is expected to be completed just before the show opens.
Some Dogs commemorates Hornik’s 55th birthday, which was in March. “As I’ve gotten close to the ages that my parents passed away — my mom at 56, my dad at 49 — I’m big on celebrating birthdays,” she explains. “The show is an excuse to celebrate my birthday and celebrate these works.” Despite the admonishments of her husband, a VC and fixture on the local art scene as well, Hornik is still collecting dog art. At January’s Fog Design+Art fair, in the Altman Siegel booth, she couldn’t resist a print by Beth Van Hoesen.
Dogs have long been immortalized in myriad ways, including as motifs in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic scenes and Han Dynasty pottery. Since animals were a frequent subject for Joan Brown, SFMOMA hosted a Pet Portraits Day in February, before its retrospective on her closed. Museumgoers shared pet photos, with the chance for an artist to create an original portrait, some of which are hanging in the second-floor Steps Coffee through September.
Farther afield, in late March, London’s Wallace Collection launched Portraits of Dogs: From Gainsborough to Hockney, on view until October 15. It overlaps for a few months with The Queen and Her Corgis, which concludes June 25 at the historic house museum.
“I have no illusions that my dogs belong in a museum,” quips Hornik, who is a founding member of the 6-month-old ICA San Francisco. “I don’t know that anyone cares which is the most expensive dog or the dog painted by the most famous artist. People might come in and find one that resonates with them, or they might just be like, ‘Oh, cute dog.’ Sometimes art can be overwhelming, but dogs are pretty accessible.”