Thursday, January 1, 2009

The Art of Lovin' Animals --- Featured Group of Artists Inspired by Their Beloved Pets.

Painting and Photograph copyright by Luke and Ginger E. Van Hook, 2004
Courtesy of the Van Hook Collection

The Art of Lovin' Animals
Features a group of artists inspired,
motivated or influenced by their beloved pets
and appear in this blog in the following order:

Joshua Elias, Simone Gad, Betty Glass, David Newsom,
Monrovia Association of Fine Arts supporters
(KidsArt Studio, PaintNPlay Art Studios, Tyson & Tillman Skate Dogs)
Family Dog and Cat Hospital in Monrovia, California (displays animal artwork).
Ginger Van Hook, Luke Van Hook,
Alex in Welderland, Elena Wolek, and Zareh.

Additionally as part of the "Art of Lovin' Animals"
there is a special book and movie review of
John Grogan's book "Marley and Me", and the recent hit movie
starring Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson

Written by Enilde G. Van Hook with special thanks to all participating artists!

Do you remember your first pet? I do. I even have a picture of how much bigger my cats’ paws were than my two feet put together at the age of three. My mother, tells me I had a yellow duck, a small dog and a large yellow tabby cat that owned me as a child.
These three pets were protective, possessive and they were my first companions as I ventured out, for the first time, into my wild back yard of dirt and weeds. I was born in Rosario Argentina and to me now as an adult, my backyard is still my world. I live in Los Angeles, California but the romance of the Argentinean Pampas is not lost on me. From the pictures of my past, I gathered that my Belgian Grandfather, Francisco, ran a plant nursery in Buenos Aires and that my father, Luis, grew up to be an inventor in America. But the most unique connection I have to my past is my relationship with animals. I’ve had a pet at almost every age as I grew up. The importance of this type of companionship has not been explored enough in the art world, at least, this is my opinion. This is the reason I am blogging about the subject of the art and inspiration of lovin’ pets. I hope to instigate discussion, if not compassion. I hope to motivate an artistic response to my thoughts as well. You may have a completely different experience, so I personally encourage you to post your comments after you read this entry.
This is what I asked myself for the subject of the essay for Ginger's Art Journal. What is the relationship of animals and pets to the art world? How involved are animals throughout the art strata? How much inspiration is gathered from the love of a pet? Can that even be measured? Does the love of a pet inspire political causes? Activism? How does one explain the pangs of loneliness from the loss of a pet? Does the death of a pet make an artist create more art? Does the gift of a new life of a pet inspire hope and renewal in artists? How do artists express their love and affection for the four-legged critters of our earth? How do animals, pets, pet trees, pet rocks or pets of any kind affect the process of making art?
There are a number of artists that I have followed for a period of time to investigate the questions that will make up this entry. Studying the work of a number of local artists from the Los Angeles and surrounding areas that work with pets in their art practice, I will present some of their unique stories with photos. The artists, in alphabetical order, include Joshua Elias, Simone Gad, Betty Glass, David Newsom, Ginger Van Hook and Luke Van Hook, Alexandra from Alex in Welderland, Lena Wolek and Zareh. Additionally, the art of lovin’ animals has made a seamless transition from the literary art into the film arts so I will discuss one of my favorite books by John Grogan named “Marley and Me” as it compares to its latest movie version of “Marley and Me” starring Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson which opened in December for Christmas Day.
The method selected to choose these artists was random. I began my animal photographic study in 2006. Through my daily practice of studying the arts, I have come across people who were “in my back yard” and came to connect with me in a special way. I didn’t set out to write a story about animals. I merely went about my daily routine of photographing people and artwork that caught my “eye” because I was at the right place at the right time. Believing that the universe has a special plan for me, I allowed this story to evolve of its own volition. What I discovered both surprised me and opened me up. What I mean by this is that I was surprised to discover that artists who had pets had a great deal in common with other artists who had pets. Most people know and understand the history that reveals how the Egyptians revered cats and how the dog is considered “man’s best friend”. While it was common to have general conversations about how great it was to have pets and create pet portraits, I rarely came across artists that spoke to the deeper underlying significance in the arts about this specifically. While doing this research, I came across the most extreme case of worshiping our pets. The act of cloning has been in the news ever since the cloning of “Dolly” the sheep, but did you know that now there is a company that has launched itself into a commercial venture to clone man’s best friend? I discovered this and lots more so enjoy the new year in 2009 with a renewed commitment to your beloved pet. This is an ongoing story so don’t feel left out if your best friend isn’t included in this entry. I’m still reviewing artwork and pet portraits,
feel free to send me an email about your animal story and I’ll include it in the followup stories!


Fine Arts Painter

Joshua Elias, Exhibition, DCA Fine Arts
Santa Monica, California
Photo copyright Ginger Van Hook, 2007
Winston and Lucille read art literature on the couch and
wait for Joshua Elias to become inspired to feed them.
Photo copyright Ginger Van Hook, 2008
Paintings by Joshua Elias
Art in the making at the Brewery Artist Colony
Los Angeles, California, 2008
Studio visit by Ginger Van Hook
Photo copyright Ginger Van Hook
Artist brushes belonging to Joshua Elias
The instruments by which Joshua Elias creates the canvas of weather and inspiration.
Photo copyright Ginger Van Hook, 2008
DCA Fine Arts Gallery, Joshua Elias with Mathew Heller and his girlfriend
Photo copyright Ginger Van Hook 2007
Joshua Elias, Exhibition at DCA Fine Arts Gallery
Santa Monica, California
Photo copyright Ginger Van Hook, 2007
Joshua Elias with his cats Winston and Lucille
in his studio at the Brewery Arts Complex in Los Angeles, California
Photo copyright Ginger Van Hook, 2008

Joshua Elias
Artist Statement

Art has become about large quantities of Resin, masquerading as Content. The focus has been on Process, confusing it with Content. Enough. I wish to focus on Content. Story and Vibration lead the way for me to paint.

I work in oil because of the depth and movement that it allows for me, as a medium. I focus on Landscapes that are rearranged. Traveling spirits act as guides, to the movement of a particular painting. The influence of Moorish architecture and its many doorways offers and allows entryways into paintings.

At present we are in a period of Time where there seems to be long standing fights over Space, Time Religion, Money, Ideology, and Relationships. Enough. The one thing we do all share is Weather. Through the action of Creating our own environment, our own personal Weather, the Repositioning of Weather can illuminate and allow for more Creation to happen, more of a Life Force to shine and to take shape.

ï¿_ Joshua Elias

Courtesy of the DCA website

Fine Arts Painter, Collage Artist, Actor and Performer
Simone Gad, Artist, Solo Show, L2Kontemporary Gallery
February 2008 Chinatown, Los Angeles, California,
Photograph by Ginger Van Hook, copyright 2008

Selfportrait with Max and Bella/Autoportrait avec Max et Bella
Private collection, photo courtesy of Simone Gad, Artist, copyright 2005
Gad/Rin-Tin-Tin Collection Long Beach Museum of Art
Courtesy Simone Gad, Artist, copyright 2005

Picture Holocaust Clowns - Pinups 127, Gad and Poodle
Courtesy Simone Gad, Artist, copyright 2005

Selfportrait with Cat and Jesus
Private collection, Courtesy of Simone Gad, Artist, copyright 2005

Hommage a Ma Mere 2005 Painting Collage
Copyright and Collection- Simone Gad
Courtesy Simone Gad-Artist
Photograph by Antonio Garcia

Autoportrait avec Kashmir, painting collage 2005/06
Courtesy Simone Gad- Artist and L2Kontemporary Gallery
Chinatown, Los Angeles, California. Copyright Simone Gad

Portrait of Bella, the Brindle cat, acting secretary for Artist, Simone Gad
Los Angeles, California, Artist studio visit
Photograph by Ginger Van Hook, copyright 2008

Bella the Brindle Cat, (on the Marilyn and JFK Installation)
Photo copyright and courtesy of
Jesse Bonderman and Simone Gad,

Bella, the Brindle Cat #2 (Marilyn Installation)
Photo courtesy of Jessie Bonderman and Simone Gad

Portrait of Simone Gad, Artist with companion, Bella.
Los Angeles, California, Artist studio visit
Photograph by Ginger Van Hook, copyright 2008

Portrait of Bella
The Brindle cat, Artist assistant, model
and loyal companion to Simone Gad.
Los Angeles, California, Artist studio visit
Photograph by Ginger Van Hook, copyright 2008

Max and Bella pose for pictures in the window of Simone Gad's artist studio
Los Angeles, California
Photograph by Ginger Van Hook, copyright 2008

Simone Gad poses with one of her paintings of Chinatown
during her solo show at L2Kontemporary Gallery
Chinatown, Los Angeles, California
Photograph by Ginger Van Hook, copyright 2008

Enilde Van Hook writer's notes: I met Simone Gad at an exhibition of her work in Chinatown in the spring of 2008. The L2Kontemporary Gallery is a unique gallery located at 990 N. Hill Street #205 in Downtown Los Angeles (90012), California. I received an email from ArtScene, a wonderful source of local Art Events that is produced by the staff of Coagula Art Journal. Special thanks to Michael Salerno and Mat Gleason, because somewhere in the announcement, I read that Simone Gad was a Belgium-born artist and this led me to want to meet her to talk about the art in Belgium, where my grandfather had been born. Once I attended her exhibit and got a chance to meet Simone, I realized there was a distinct cultural connection we had through our reverence to the animals. She used images of her cats to make intriguing and poignant self-portraits and insightful photographic collages.
I have followed Simone Gad’s work into 2009 and you will enjoy visiting her site through the L2Kontemporary Gallery located in Chinatown in Los Angeles: Follow these links to get to know a renaissance artist, a versatile film and TV actress, a woman of many talents and an artist who has a great deal of compassion to show for her animal friends: visit the online gallery site at to view her solo show at L2k for Feb 08 plus her updated resume which may be viewed at by writing in her name or by writing in Simone Gad’s name.
Special thanks to the L2Kontemporary Gallery for cooperating with my interview! ( and and phone: 323-225-1288)

Simone Gad
Artist Statement and Biography: 2009

I've been showing in museums and galleries for 40 years-am a 6 times grants recipient, including a CRA Grant 1986, the Woman's Building 1985/6, New Orleans Contemporary Museum of Art 1984, the Gottlieb Foundation-NYC/Painting Medical Emergency Grant, Change Inc-Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Grant-both in 2002 for painting and medical emergency, and Artist Fellowship Foundation Grant in 2007-NYC. I am included in the Archives of the National Portrait Gallery/Smithsonian-Washington, DC, and will also be included in the Lyn Kienholz Encyclopedia of Los Angeles Artists who have shown between 1944 and 1979. In Los Angeles, I am represented by L2kontemporary Gallery-Chinatown, Jack Fischer Gallery in San Francisco, and am showing in Spain. I am also in the traveling museum exhibition-Your Documents Please thru 2010 in Japan/Europe/Mexico curated by Daniel Georges of Brooklyn, NY. I was born in Brussels, Belgium to holocaust survivor parents, from Poland. We came to the US in the early 1950's and settled in Boyle Heights/E.L.A, after arriving at Ellis Island. My mother got me into show-biz at the age of 4 upon our immigration. I grew up in the entertainment field as a young actress-have been working professionally in film, tv, commercials and theatre ever since. Have always had a dual career-.visual/performance artist and actor. George Herms and Wallace Berman were my first mentors. Al Hansen was my mentor from 1972 to 1995 when he passed away in Koln, Germany.

My cats Max and Bella Bettina Kashmir are my inspiration for many of my painting collages-have been so for many years. I've always been inspired by my cats and dogs that I've had since I arrived to this country from War torn Europe. My father got me my first dog-Teddy Queeny when I was a child living on Folsom Street-We had just returned from a movie on Brooklyn Avenue when we saw the puppies on our way home. I was allowed to have one-and I was so happy. But my mother hated animals and wouldn't let me keep my pet with me in my bedroom and it cried all night. I was heartbroken when I got home from Nursery School the following day and found that my dog was gone. My mom told me she had sent it to New Jersey to live with my Tante Sally. I wasn't allowed to have any animals after that. Years later I visited my aunt and asked her if she had taken care of my Teddy Queeny and she told me she never did-she never got the dog-didn't know what I was talking about. I realized that my mother had lied to me and had possibly killed my beloved doggie. I had moved to Topanga Canyon for a while in the late 1960's-that's where I got to know Wallace Berman and George Herms. I was given a miniature sheppard-who I named Lady. She was my constant companion and I adored her. She was run over by a couple of friends who were staying with me one night. I found her bleeding from her mouth by the driveway. She died in my arms and I could feel her spirit leave her body. We buried her the next morning. I was devastated for years. A friend of mine gave me a dash-hound and I took it home to be with me when I left Topanga and stayed with my parents for a while. I named her Wiggle Butts because she had this habit of wiggling her behind when she walked. I was not allowed to keep her-once again-so I called a friend and had her drive from The Canyon to pick Wiggles up and take care of her for me. When I left my parents and got an apartment, I got a cat-Nathaniel-my very first cat-who was with me for 15 years until he passed away. It was then that I started to incorporate animal objects into my collages-in the mid 1970's.

copyright Simone Gad 2009 to view Simone Gad’s solo show at L2k for Feb 08 plus her updated resume-you may also get it on by writing in her name or by writing in Simone Gad’s name-



Focus One Gallery in Monrovia, California. Sponsored by M.A.F.A.,
the Monrovia Association of Fine Arts and Focus One Community Credit Union.
Photo by Ginger Van Hook, copyright 2006

Betty Glass celebrates Christmas with Lulu at home in 2008.
Lulu, wearing her new holiday sweater,
pokes her nose into the gift bag
to see if she likes what Santa has brought her.
Photo copyright and courtesy of Betty Glass and James Glass.
Turtle Painting, Watercolor Artwork by Betty Glass reminiscent of her pet turtles.
Photo copyright and courtesy of Betty and James Glass.
Trojan Horses, Watercolor painting by Artist, Betty Glass
Photo copyright and courtesy of Betty and James Glass.
Hummy, Watercolor Painting by Artist, Betty Glass.
Photo copyright and courtesy of Betty and James Glass.

Yankee and Sugar, Watercolor Painting by Artist, Betty Glass
memorializing the life of her beloved friends.
Photo copyright and courtesy of Betty and James Glass.

Yankee (5-17-80 --- 4-20-94)
the larger white and orange Brittany on the right,
and Sugar (7-20-90 --- 12-24-04)
the smaller Brittany on the left.
"Beloved Friends and Forever in our hearts!"
Loyal Friends, Inspiration and Companions
to Artist, Betty Glass and her family.
(Special thanks to husband, James Glass
for his technical computer assistance
with digital photography formating of Betty Glass Artwork.)
Photo copyright and courtesy of Betty and James Glass

Enilde Van Hook, Writer's Notes:
I met Betty Glass through the Monrovia Association of Fine arts in 2006. We were showing together at the Focus One Gallery on Huntington Drive in Monrovia, California. When Betty came into the gallery, she was toting her adorable poodle named Lulu. I was charmed immediately and I just had to have a photo of this beautiful female pooch with a twinkle in her eye and the gumption to come into an art gallery where only humans gathered. This little poodle had no clue there was any difference between her and her owner, and she acted like she was looking at the art just like everyone else. At the time, I considered this a very cultured poodle and I told Betty so. Betty giggled and let me take her snapshot with Lulu and then we did not see each other again until we had another show together, also at Focus One Gallery two years later in December of 2008. When I saw Betty this time, I saw the connection of her artwork and the love of her animals come through her work and later, she agreed to participate in the interview for my blog. You may enjoy Betty Glass's artwork by visiting her website at

Betty H. Glass
Artist Statement about Animal Art

Through art we communicate our feelings and thoughts.
Our art reflects what experiences in life have influenced us.
I have had a lifetime of pets
ranging from goldfish, parakeets, and turtles and, of course,
the loyal dog—always your friend even when the sky seems to be falling.
I am still sketching and painting animals, birds, and fish.
The softness of their fur, the texture of their feathers and fins,
the variations of color are very appealing to me,
because color is part of my artistic signature.
Sometimes they are presented in a realistic fashion.

Other times I use animals in a more stylized way—
using their shapes as patterns, semi-abstracting them and their background.
For example, my painting Trojan Horses shows flattened stylized figures of horses.
Hopefully artistically pleasing and calling to mind ancient Greece.

After losing our two year old dog,
I did a painting of pure color that ebbed and flowed with no form.
The painting expressed my pain and grief at losing her
and it symbolized her spirit being released from her body and the pain she suffered in it.


Author of "Marley & Me"
Copyright and Courtesy of John Grogan, 2005
William Morrow, Imprint of Harper Collins

Written by Enilde Van Hook, 2009

The day I bought this book, I was wandering around the Borders Bookstore
looking for a good book to get into.
I had recently heard a review on the radio station KCRW broadcasting from Santa Monica,
about a Florida author who wrote about his dog
and as I turned around, there in my line of sight, appeared
a stand of hundreds of 'Marley & Me' books barking at me to pick one up.
"Luke, I'd like to pick this one!"
I said excitedly to my husband and thus I took home a piece of Marley and John Grogan home with me in 2006.
I had no idea I was about to be transformed.
Photo scan by Ginger Van Hook, 2009
Evidence that I made the right choice for a book that day, I kept the Borders receipt as a bookmark.
I spent about $15.38 with our bookclub discounts,
and I decided after reading the book
that it was one of the most valuable book purchases I had made that year.
Then three years later, an avid fan,
I took Luke Van Hook to see the movie, 'Marley & Me'
starring Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson
Photo scan by Ginger Van Hook 2009
Ginger and Luke Van Hook made a movie date to attend the opening of "Marley & Me"
the movie starring Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson.
The Bridge Cinema, Sunday matinee, December 28, 2008
Photo Scan by Ginger Van Hook, 2009

Having gone through grad school at an art college makes one appreciate the art of reading even more as one engages with history, studies the past literary greats and becomes immersed in the life of the mind of other authors and readers. What happens to the mind when it is engaged in experiencing grief for the loss of a pet? It became abundantly clear to me that I was about to find out, about a year into art school at Otis College of Art and Design in Westchester, California the veterinarian informed us that our five year old dog Celbee had a fast-developing cancer forming in his left cheek and within another year, he would have to be put down. As if life had not thrown us enough blows, the year after Celbee passed away, we were in for another round of vet visits with Bella a beautiful black and tan airedale who had by then grown a large tumor on her shoulder and we were about to lose Bella a year after we graduated, almost a year after Celbee, a beautiful Queensland Heeler who often attended art school with us, but did not make it to graduation day.
As a writer, oddly enough, I practically stopped writing. Oh, I still made journal entries to my diary, but often these entries were teary remembrances of our times with our dogs, who we considered our children. As artists, my husband and I had continued to make artwork, but the cute portraits, were now replaced with poignant portrayals of the dogs we no longer had in our midst. I had finished writing my first novel "The Kingdom of Nuts and Bolts" for graduation, but I had no ummph left in me to put together any other creative project, poem or literary contribution. I was left in a desolate wasteland of feeling grief as I had not felt it before.
Thus, when I heard about a Florida man who had written a story about living with the 'World's worst dog' I was intrigued. I was craving for some good news to soothe my estranged mind that had fallen off it's writing track and like a train-wreck, was still waiting for the heavy machinery to lift me out of my rut.
"Marley & Me" was the heavy mechanism with which I was lifted out of sorrow and brought back to the land of the living. I give thanks to John Grogan who used his voice as a newspaper reporter to describe his life with a new puppy he had purchased for his wife. His wife, in this novel, had plans to start a family, therefore the puppy became the gift that life had bestowed upon John Grogan instead. By now most folks have already seen the movie that just came out last month for Christmas day, but in 2006, I quickly recognized the value of this particular story and the fascinating way in which John Grogan decided to tell it. I knew when I had finished reading "Marley & Me" that this story would eventually become a hit movie.
I could feel it in my gut. It was only a matter of time!
Thus, when the movie did come out, I made a point to request a movie-date with my husband to see it at our local theatre. I took handfuls of tissue and stuffed my pockets to prepare for the gushing tears. After claiming our seats in the dim-lit theatre arena, Luke went to bring in the heavy artillery of comfort foods required for a good old fashioned tear-jerker of a movie; popcorn with extra butter, red vines, a soda to wash it down with and more napkins. As a movie, just as a biographical novel, "Marley & Me" did not disappoint. We were expecting slight differences in how the story-telling would come out in a visual medium, but the director had stayed very close to the original novel. The care with which Jennifer Aniston stepped into her role as the mom and the raw emotion she displayed in her parts just made the movie seem all that more real. Owen Wilson playing the part of John Grogan was cleverly selected to demonstrate an insecure writer trying to navigate through life with a new puppy, a new wife, a new family and an ever changing landscape of writing assignments. Owen Wilson perfectly demonstrated the feelings one gets when one's best friend just keeps getting all the good juicy newspaper assignments and one feels always like the odd man out. In the end, both the movie and the book leads the viewer and or the reader to realize a unique truth about life.
If one truly examines one's own life in the present, one finds little marbles of disappointments, but often overlooks the huge beach balls of joy that knock one silly in the process. Personally, when I was experiencing grief, nothing else mattered except my grief until someone reached out, and down into my water-well of self-pity and presented me with how life can really be if properly meditated upon. Life is a joy despite the ups and downs. Remember the see-saw as a child? I finally got that. Each of us have a path in life and on that path, who we run into and who runs into us seems to be a random process, but how each of us reacts to these unique collisions leads to the growth of our character. In so far as John Grogan's dog Marley collided with the fate that eventually faces all of us, we learn to accept life with all its passions, joys, sorrows and uplifting hope for the future. I just want to thank John Grogan for writing the book, his wife for encouraging her husband to do so and for the talented cast of actors who took the time in their busy lives to work on the project to bring it to life and help the country heel and heal as a whole nation. If you haven't seen the movie yet, be sure and take a big box of kleenex. It is worth it to have a good cry in the dark with about two hundred other sniffling souls.
As we approach another sniffling and most significant moment in our American history, the changing of the guard, the inauguration of our new president Barack Obama on January 20th, 2009, we have in the new President of the United States of America about to step into the puppy lifestyle of one of the most powerful families in the world. In an interview last month, Mr. and Mrs. Obama revealed to the nation that their two daughters had requested a puppy.
My only recommendation for a smooth transition into the White House for the Obama Family is, "get a doggie door!"

Enilde Van Hook
Writer, photographer, artist and animal lover


Photographer Film-maker Artist Author

David Newsom with his dog Burt
DCA Fine Arts Gallery Santa Monica, California
Photograph copyright Ginger Van Hook, 2007
3 Miles of Idaho
DCA Fine Arts Gallery
Excerpted from David Newsom's book, SKIP
Courtesy and copyright David Newsom, 2007

Enilde Van Hook, Art Review, July 2007

Newsom Artwork Showing through July 14th, 2007
DCA Fine Art Gallery 3107 Pico Boulevard Santa Monica, CA

As a Los Angeles based artist with a degree in filmmaking from Ithaca College in New York, David Newsom found a way to slow down the moving pictures of his own life and focus on his family and contemporary social issues all in one fell swoop. In this exhibit he exposes two bodies of relevant work. The photographs which hang on the walls of the DCA Fine Art Gallery, comprise 3 Miles of Idaho and the book of photographs with poetic excerpts that describe the true nature of his work titled, SKIP.

“It’s all about the story,” David Newsom quipped with a boyish Jersey smile, as he shook my hand in front of his photographs at DCA Fine Art Gallery in Santa Monica. In these portraits he exposes both painterly images of the thistle and juxtaposes the raw untold story of his mentally disabled brother Skip through poignant portrayals of Skip adjusting and finding acceptance in a rural community in Idaho. Some of the images convey silhouettes of the thistle against a backdrop of dark foreboding clouds, while others use the vignette and graininess of the film and camera to procure the light as it breaks through the clouds.

David Newsom reveals a number of themes in his work throughout this exhibit. On the walls of the DCA Fine Art, sharp images depict Skip and the dogs running through the stunning beauty of three mountain ranges surrounding the Teton Valley almost unscathed by modern civilization. Newsom balances his focus between reportage and the aesthetic of art using the language of the frame. The image titled Quammen’s Rule #2, for instance, is a special tribute to David Quammen’s Planet of Weeds, (published in Harper’s Oct 1998 issue). The photograph, shot with a Holga camera, emerges in the frame with a dreamlike quality spurting the bright fuchsia bloom “dramatic and distracting, atop its lethal stem”, as Newsom writes in his book. In pinks and reds the thistle begs acceptance and yet stands in defiance of man’s opinion of them.
David Newsome uses the common thistle, the stark and untamed landscape of three miles between his brother’s and his sister’s houses and the special relationship they all have with their brother Skip as a backdrop to call your attention to the issues of the mentally disabled as well as the basic appreciation for simple everyday living in nature. Newsom looks inward to his own soul to produce these works of art.

The images in this exhibit rise above angst and convey the messages of reconciliation with nature, weaving a tale of hardship rewarded with success, the bitter-sweetness of the struggle but eventually winning the prize. The prize is the freedom to exist in this phenomenal natural setting and the benefit of this prize is the acceptance Skip finds in his new community. As he describes the thistle, his main theme, Newsom seems to have extracted a metaphor between these weeds in nature, to the acceptance his brother Skip has discovered in this ecosystem. “Both are transplants”, Newsom explains in the final pages of his book, SKIP, “…but some, at least, have found a home.”

A variety of themes are carved in the fabric of the landscape and are tied to the memoir of childhood and the emergence of independence for the first time. Unlike Diane Arbus, the photographer known for her portraits of people living on the fringes of society, David Newsom exposes some of the most intimate details of his own family experiences within the frame and achieves a unique balance between art and storytelling.

“My mom was a painter, a landscape watercolorist”, Newsom admits. “But I used to make fun of mom’s work because I told her it should be edgier; not the escapist type of landscapes she preferred. I used to tell her, you’re a divorced woman living in the suburbs of New Jersey for God’s sake, ‘paint your own life!’ But she would answer, ‘I don’t want to paint my own life!’ And continue on painting her flowers and landscapes. One of the paintings she considered her favorite was a piece called ‘Four Grocery Bags’; So I would give her grief about the mundane nature of her work but later in life, I realized something important about her, especially after her death. Now, I’ve sort of taken to holding a candle to her, so to speak, and I’ve been influenced by her love of watercolor images.”

“Don’t get me wrong, all my careers have informed my work, even acting and film-making but what I think drives me the most is my impulse to tell a story as a photographer… I’m deeply indebted to Viggo Peter Mortensen Jr., (who played the part of Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy), because his strengths are in painting and photography as well as poetry and I came across this excellent opportunity to collaborate on a book with him. One thing led to another and he was the one encouraging me to do something I’ve always had in mind to do.”

Photographic Techniques

David Newsom uses a variety of cameras for his work. In this series he played back and forth between the Holga camera, and the Nikon F100. The Holga camera is an inexpensive, medium format 120 film toy camera, originating in Hong Kong in the early to mid 1980’s, which later came to be appreciated for its low-fidelity aesthetic.
The Holga's cheap construction and simple meniscus lens often yields pictures that display vignetting, blur, light leaks, and other distortions. Ironically, these particular qualities of the camera which some consider problems, became a virtue among some photographers, with Holga photos winning awards and competitions in art and news photography. Newsom also experiments with the processing of the film using a double exposure inside the camera as well as close-ups and faraway shots. Some of the images are cross-processed film techniques and he completes a number of shots using modern digital manipulations commercially available.

Newsom's Background

Googling, one can expect to find an exhausting list of David Newsom’s accomplishments in the field of award winning films, documentaries, significant acting roles and a host of VIP’s from the movie industry he’s worked with; And yet, 3 Miles of Idaho along with the book SKIP is perhaps David Newsome’s most heartfelt work to date which qualifies him to be considered a Renaissance man of the 21st century.

‘In 2005, David began producing movies, starting with his first short film Mother, written and directed by his girlfriend, Sian Heder. April 2006, "Mother" won the Grand Jury Award for Best Narrative Short at the Florida Film Festival, a victory that automatically qualified the film for a potential Academy Award nomination. Mother was also selected for the May 2006 Cinefondation Competition of the Cannes Film Festival, where it won third place in a field of 18 films from around the globe. The film was then selected for many other festivals, including the prestigious Seattle International Film Festival, where it received the "2006 Short Film: Narrative Special Jury Prize". "Mother" continues to play globally and recently took the Grand Jury Award-Narrative Shorts at the Oxford Film Festival. In early 2007, Newsom and Heder partnered with The Mark Gordon Company and are in pre-production on the feature film, "Tallulah".’ (From Wikipedia Internet sources) ##

SKIP, © 2005 Perceval Press, All images, David Newsom ISBN # 0-9774869-1-5
Printed in Spain, at Jomagar S/A

By Enilde Ginger Van Hook

David Newsom stretches beyond his comfort zone and exposes his family’s setbacks as well as their joys thus raises the work to an artistic level with the poise of his camera and the humanity of his subject.

SKIP is bound to win awards in the near future for both its poetic and lyrical qualities; the merge between image and text brings insight and a fresh look at the intimate landscape of beauty which leaves us with something more than memories; It leaves us with concrete evidence that a life exists within the confines of the mind and that nature and the mind often find refuge in each other.

Rather unexpectedly especially in an art gallery, Burt, a tall lanky black and white mix of Airedale Terrier and Labrador Retriever comes barreling in from the back room, gives me a most inappropriate sniff and grants me acceptance with a prompt wag of his tail as he circles back to sit beside David. David sports an exasperated expression on his face, apologizing for the actions of his dog. “Ah, my greatest work!” David offers wrapping his arm affectionately around Burt. This is my first meeting with the contemporary Los Angeles-based photographer David Newsom, as well as my first introduction to the artwork, the heart of the artist and not to mention, Burt.

Throughout the interview, I looked around and was taken aback by the number of photographs involving dogs in the landscapes so that I found it perfectly appropriate for Burt to participate in the interview. Then again as if coming out of a documentary film about the lush Idaho countryside, there emerged the figures of two dogs on the wall called “Dogfight, 2004”. Then out of nowhere, Burt abounds, wagging his tail as big as life jumping onto David’s lap. David attempted to put Burt back in the alley yard, but Burt didn’t like it there so he came back. I included photos of David with Burt not only because he is man’s best friend and thus comically upstages David at every wag of his tail, but because it documents David Newsom’s personal character as a human being who cares about his family, his environment and his artwork equally.


Supports Artists of the Fine Arts in Monrovia Schools
as well as Arts Education in the Surrounding Areas
of the Foothill Mountain Communities

Photo copyright Ginger Van Hook
"I love KIDSART"
Photo copyright Ginger Van Hook

WildRose School sponsored Window Exhibition of the art produced by students of the Monrovia Unified School District, 2008
Photo copyright Ginger Van Hook
Animals in Artwork are some of the students most favorite subjects.
Summer Artwalk Student Exhibiton
Photo by Ginger Van Hook, 2008
Student at KIDSART holds up a drawing of a Dalmation, Monrovia, California
Photo by Ginger Van Hook, 2008
Photo Copyright by Ginger Van Hook, 2008

Lions and tigers and bears
often appear in photographic displays
at the Monrovia Association of Fine Arts October Art Festival.
Photograph copyright Ginger Van Hook, 2008
Artists Gilbert and Kelly Vela from Riverside, California
exhibit their photographs of wild animals in the African Planes
at the Monrovia Association of Fine Arts--
October Festival-- Monrovia Library Park
Photo Copyright Ginger Van Hook, 2008
Drums and Dragons Fine Art children's books
are exhibited at the Monrovia Association of Fine Arts October Festival
with a loyal student attending the booth and holding the white poodle.
Photo copyright Ginger Van Hook, 2008
SUMMER ART WALKS are the Summer's biggest art attraction for families and their children every year. Sponsored by the Monrovia Association of Fine Arts.
Photo copyright Ginger Van Hook, 2008
Puppies at Paint N Play Studio
More Puppy Art at Paint N Play in Monrovia, California
Photo copyright Ginger Van Hook, 2008
Lisa and Rachel both work to support the artistic inspiration
and promote the fine arts at
in Monrovia, California
Photo copyright by Ginger Van Hook, 2008


In the quaint mountain community of Monrovia, California
there are SkateDog Fans eager to salute the incredible skills
that have been demonstrated by Tyson and Tillman the skate bulldogs
that recently performed for the Pasadena Rose Bowl Parade on January 1, 2009
Photo copyright Ginger Van Hook
STIX RIDESHOP located at 421 S. Mytle Avenue in Monrovia
is also a big fan of the skateboarding bulldogs.
Alec Lucero, Nathan Bernal, Shawn Wong, Mario "Sexy" Deviana
and Lucky Seven pose in front of the skate shop, pausing for
only a brief moment in their skateboarding activities.

Photo Copyright Ginger Van Hook, 2008
A proper salute from skateboarding fans in Monrovia, California
Photo copyright, Ginger Van Hook, 2008

The English Bulldog demonstrates the proper way to pick up a skateboard...


Tyson and Tillman--Skateboarding bulldogs at Pasadena Rose Parade
Tyson, the skateboarding bulldog, tears up Main Street in Huntington Beach. Onlookers are stunned to see that Tyson really skates on all four paws without the urging of owner Jim Blauvelt. ANA VENEGAS, THE REGISTER


Family Dog and Cat Hospital
Sylvia Zapien-Garcia, D.V.M.
David L. Garcia, R.V.T.
136 W. Lime Avenue Monrovia, CA 91016

The Family Dog and Cat Hospital had an open house on Saturday, April 4th, 2009 to encourage community members to bring their beloved dogs and cats when they are in need of care.
So if your little bulldog gets hurt while trying to
skateboard up and over a ramp or just trying out ollies, David and Sylvia and close by in Monrovia, ready to mend their bumps and bruises.

The inside scoop on the Family Dog and Cat Hospital on Lime in Monrovia, California
Photos by Ginger Van Hook


Artist- Photographer - Writer

"The Adoption of Sasha"

March 18, 2007

My Dearest Friend,

We approached Burbank from the 405 Freeway and got off near the NBC studios. We saw a park, but no one seemed to be there so we went under the underpass and drove up and around on Buena Vista Street looking for a doggie park set up with doggie adoptions. At first, it all looked quiet and residential but then we started to see people on the street walking their dogs. We decided to follow them; which led us to the park directly across from the parking lot of NBC studios.

There we hit the dog-day jackpot. There were tents and booths and a DJ blaring music from loudspeakers set way up in the trees. There were Chihuahuas and Poodles and Labrador retrievers walking around pulling and dragging their new owners and new families (sometimes little Johnny or little Susie would get tangled in the lead and a little Jack Russell would finally sit with a smirk of a doggie smile from tooth to wagging tail.) There were short haired, short legged hotdog looking wiener dogs and robust looking Rottweillers and fancy faced terriers and droopy brown-eyed cocker spaniels and dogs that looked like wolves and Lassies that looked like they were ready to save lives and short Corgi’s that could hardly walk because they were so portly.

An arena was roped-off where there was a black, tan and white Border collie showing off her ability to catch Frisbees in mid-air and her trainer lifting his leg so she could jump through it like a hoop to catch the Frisbee on the other end. She would catch and jump and flip in the air and the audience would applaud and whoohoo and squeal in delight. There were families in this park with one, two, three or sometimes four and more children bundled together in the crowd like they were standing in line for a ride at Disneyland.

Beneath the element of show was an urgent need for each of these families to find and connect with their perfect matching adopted family member. On the way over we walked beside a woman who spoke aloud what Luke and I were thinking privately.

“I don’t know who is coming home with me today, but I hope I find him or her. I hope maybe he or she finds me. I want a happy healthy dog. I just want a companion. I don’t care whether it be a boy or a girl,” she said as we crossed the street at the green light with three more people headed for doggie adoption, “before I left the house,” she continued, “I said to God, ‘Lord’ just find me the right one, that’s all, just let it be the right one. My last one had cancer, bless her little soul, and I do have two other dogs at home, but we need one more. I just want a healthy one today.”

I was quiet. I kept walking and thinking. Luke was quiet. Then I opened up and agreed with her. I wanted to share with her that we wanted the same thing she did. We wanted a healthy companion to live and share a good life with us too. Luke whispered from behind me, “if it is meant to be, it will be.” We waved our parting goodbyes to this woman; we had barely met, and yet connected with on a level of human compassion for animals when suddenly we were engulfed in doggie-mania.

After all our anticipation, we were finally at the place where one of these 2000 beautiful dogs was going to come home with us. Now which one would it be? We wanted to be fair so we walked around several times to look at all of the dogs. There were so many. They all barked or whined or pleaded to come home with us. Some of them just wanted out of their cages and would go home with anyone that would let them out. Others just sat there and observed the circus of freaky looking people that walked by. Some dogs looked like they didn’t care. The sky was overcast, there was a slight breeze blowing and I was grateful for all those dogs that were at this adoption festival that it wasn’t a hot day. On the loudspeaker, there was an urgent announcement…’would the owner of an SUV license plate number… please return to your car. The dog inside is getting hot and we will break the window to your vehicle to get it out. We have authority from the police department. Will the owner of an SUV license plate number…’

At first, I saw ‘Bailey’ a small terrier-looking dog with a beige cream curly haired coat and he smiled at me, wagged his tail and then turned around at the bark of the dog behind him. Although I liked him, it was a boy and Luke wanted a girl so, we kept looking. Then one after another, the dogs I liked were boys. I wasn’t planning this; I just looked at the faces and wanted to see a reaction of connection. It was so hard to choose. I saw one brown-eyed droopy cocker spaniel that seemed perfect. He was a boy too. Boys are great, but they have to lift their legs to mark their territory and often mark the whole house. Ok, maybe a girl dog would mark it too in her own way.
Then, I saw the eyes of a dog that took my heart and shattered it with grief. It was the eyes and face and body of our boy Celbee…but it wasn’t. It was a girl and her brother in two separate cages. Brother and sister were up for adoption to a good home. An inspector would have to come to the house and approve the home so this one could not be our dog today either. But those eyes! Those Celbee eyes! The memories of his cancer returned. The hurt in his eyes when he realized he was going to be put down. He knew. He knew his time was up. He didn’t like the vet with the expensive oxford shoes. He tried to hide under the chair. But we made him get up on the table. The table where he was to receive the injection for an irreparable cancer that was about to take his brain and his doggie memories.
The piercing look on this female dog brought Celbee back to life and my heart broke for yet another time. I was disturbed. She didn’t recognize me. I had never seen this dog before. It was really the memory of our dog Celbee, yet her eyes penetrated mine and I had to look away for a second. I calculated. I would have to take home two dogs today. I could not. These two were strays that had managed to stay together on their journey when they were rescued from this shelter. And this animal rescue wanted brother and sister together. I agreed. I took a business card, but I knew I would not call. I left the booth with a heavy heart. I really missed my dog Celbee. He died in 2004. He didn’t make graduation. He barely made five years. Bella on the other hand made graduation but she was overtaken by the tumor in her shoulder in 2005. It was now two years later. It felt just like yesterday when I looked into the eyes of that beautiful female Queensland Healer in her cage, today.

I left that booth disheartened wondering if Luke and I would ever find a dog that was right for us. We didn’t want to replace our happy Bella and Celbee memories. We just wanted to make new ones. We wanted a wagging tail when we came home and the bark of joy when we said we were going for a walk. I looked over the bridge in the park and noticed there was an entire section of the park dedicated to cat adoptions. I turned away. Eggs, the neighbors’ cat was all the cat we needed. We have a cat. The cat doesn’t know about ownership and rights and legalese. It only knows his house is under construction and he prefers our house while his is getting worked on. But Egg’s family will be finishing their house this summer and it was time. Jill wants her cat back in her new house with her. I don’t blame her. If Eggs was my cat, I would want him back in my house too. Needless to say, it was time for us to get our own dog. It was time for us to let Bella and Celbee rest in peace. It was time for us to return to the land of the living or we were in danger of becoming ghosts ourselves.

And then, we went back to another isle of dogs we had been by before. I saw a face I recognized. It was a boy, said the animal control officer. But this time I didn’t care. The face looked at me and told me all I wanted to know. This face was the face that was coming home with me. I just had a feeling. Luke and I came inside the booth. We were asking questions, the officers were excited. “Oh, yes this one is available… Oh are you going to take her home she is really sweet…” “Did you say she? “So she, is not a boy…no…I said. She has nipples.” “Oh…no” said the animal control officer with her clipboard full of notes. “let me look up her file.. . Yup she’s a girl!”

We took her out of her cage to walk around the park and feel her out. She is a brown terrier the officer said. She pooped. She had diarrhea. But she didn’t seem upset with all the people. She gave us kisses. We named her Chela for our student loans were on a fifteen-year payment plan, so we hope she has over 15 happy healthy years with us.
We picked her. Luke agreed. I agreed. She responded to us. I signed paper work. Luke held her lead. She gave him kisses. She was sweet. She coughed a little. She walked with us. She seemed genuinely happy to be out of the doggie fair. She followed us to the car. She pranced. Her paperwork said she was a terrier. But the more I looked at her, there was something familiar about her face.


Ginger Van Hook holds Sasha Van Hook as she goes for her first visit to Northern California on the border of Northern Nevada where the Sierra Mountains kiss the sky and the rivers run with icy waters. Being a city dog, Sasha is uncomfortable with the cold water and it is a miracle she stands still on the slippery rock for this photograph.
Photo copyright by Luke Van Hook, 2007
Courtesy of the Van Hook Collection

Sasha Van Hook, prefers to enjoy her new sun-drenched back porch in Los Angeles,
Sunny Southern California
Photography copyright Ginger Van Hook, 2007
Courtesy of the Van Hook Collection
Squirrel Patrol Sargeant, Sasha the Red Terrier
and her new mate First Class, Pyro the Red Irish Terrier
guard their territory from trespassing varmits
and their impending approach into their sanctuary.
Photo copyright Ginger Van Hook, 2009
Courtesy of the Van Hook Collection
Sasha and Pyro Van Hook share a doggy kiss,
Photograph Copyright Ginger Van Hook
Courtesy from the Van Hook Collection
Pyro Van Hook, is adopted from the Carson Shelter in January of 2009
to become the newest furry Van Hook member of the family.
The red Irish Terrier is told that Sasha is a dominant dog and
if he wants to live here, he'll have to go by Super Sasha rules...
no eating Sasha food, no getting on the couch, no sniffing the cockatiels,
no playing with the turtles and most of all, bark loud for any and all intruders!
Photo copyright Ginger Van Hook, 2009
Courtesy of the Van Hook Collection
Ginger Van Hook with Sasha and Pyro
Photo copyright Luke Van Hook, 2009
Courtesy of the Van Hook Collection
Luke with Sasha and Pyro
Photo copyright Ginger Van Hook
Courtesy of the Van Hook Collection, 2009

JUNIOR VAN HOOK 1993-1998 and CELBEE VAN HOOK 1998-2004
Royal Cup Coffee House Gallery, Long Beach, California 2006
Husband and Wife Show, Ginger and Luke Van Hook
Copyright and Courtesy of the Van Hook Collection
Enilde Van Hook on the sand an in the surf with Beach Bella, 2003
Pacific Coast, California, Photo copyright Luke Van Hook
Courtesy of the Van Hook Collection
ella and Celbee Van Hook enjoy a nap at the Motel before hiking in the woods.
Mount Shasta Vacation, Weed, California, 2003
Photograph copyright by Ginger Van Hook
Courtesy of the Van Hook Collection
Bella Van Hook riding in her Red Wagon, 2005
Photography copyright Ginger Van Hook
Courtesy of the Van Hook Collection
Portrait of Bella Van Hook, 2005
Enhanced Digital Photography Copyright by Ginger Van Hook
Courtesy of the Van Hook Collection
Bella On Vacation, Yosemite 2005
Photograph copyright Ginger Van Hook
Courtesy of the Van Hook Collection
Celbee in the Driver's Seat, Parkinglot, Los Angeles, California 2004
Photography copyright Ginger Van Hook
Courtesy of the Van Hook Collection
Bella's Face, Early in the morning, 2004
Digitally Enhanced Photo Copyright Ginger Van Hook
Original Photo by Peter Bolten,
Digitally Enhanced Photo by Ginger Van Hook, copyright, 2005
Courtesy from the Van Hook Collection

Photographic Tribute/Memorial to Bella Van Hook's life
Ginger Van Hook
Courtesy of the Van Hook Collection

Journal Entry from the Diary of Enilde Van Hook
April 23, 2005

Dearest Friend,

Bella has had a very difficult night and her nightmare has continued on through this morning and now it is afternoon. She is panting in pain. Her eyes are red and bloodshot from lack of sleep. Or are those Luke’s eyes that I see from crying. I have been crying too. We told our neighbor Don and he rushed over to say goodbye, now that we know the end is near. A lot of people love Bella. Bella is a very loving soul. I talked to her this morning about leaving us. I told her if it was too painful to stay here with us, that she could go with Celbee and Junior and my sister Else if she chose to. Just let us know Bella. I don’t know exactly what happens when you travel, because I haven’t personally gone on this journey myself, but I explained, my sister Else told me in whispers that she was all right. That somehow it was not as frightening as everyone thinks. I can only say that you have been the kindest, most loyal friend two people could ever be blessed to have in a lifetime. We have been blessed with you from the moment you walked into our hearts at six weeks old. We saw you jump into the river in Pleasant Valley because you thought you had to save Junior from drowning when you were 8 weeks old. I thought the river would swallow you up. Junior came back to shore struggling. You crawled up the side of the rocks in the river like you were a wet river rat and you could climb anything. This cancer has been the biggest mountain you have had to climb, dearest Bella. We saw you chase away a bear from camp in Lake Tahoe and witnessed you get gored by a bull and come back to bite him in the leg and made him jump back over the fence to run away from you.

In your own back yard, even the birds salute you, Queen Bella. You know that the seeds we planted together last week have sprouted? Here, take a look. It is the Rose Queen that has come up from the wet earth to remind you of our wonderful times together. You have kept papa and mama in shape by making us run after you for about eleven years. It isn’t fair that you should have inherited such a painful disease at this stage of your life.

Your good times and good memories abound. Running on the beach, running up in Big Bear Lake, running in Alpine, swimming at Lake Tahoe and running from hotel security at Circus Circus Hotel in Las Vegas. You’ve traveled to Oregon to visit Becky and Noah and gone up and down the coast of California. You had already conquered Nevada when you took over California. Large and in charge, Bella, you ran us and held our hearts in your paws.
At this time, Luke and I are with you on the grass, laptop beside me and Luke is making drawings of you. Our closeness quiets your moans. You sleep for minutes at a time between the sharp pain shooting through your shoulder. We make the appointment with the Vet for you today at 2:40pm. We will let the doctor evaluate you, but if it is time, then we must say goodbye, for now. Until we meet again.

Enilde and Luke Van Hook,
“Farewell to Bella”, 2005

Fine Artist Painting

courtesy of the Van Hook Collection
Painting, Oil on Canvas, 10" x 12" by Artist Luke Van Hook
Photograph of Painting Copyright and Courtesy of the Van Hook Collection
Luke and Ginger Van Hook
Portrait of Bella Van Hook 2005,
(Bella's last days with us, aged 11 in human years)
Drawing, Graphite on Paper, 6" x 15" by Artist Luke Van Hook
Photograph of Drawing copyright and courtesy of the Van Hook Collection
Luke and Ginger Van Hook
Los Angeles, California, 2005

"Portrait of Celbee Van Hook"
Red Queensland Heeler aged 3 in human years
wears white BVD shorts and white t-shirt, integrated into the artworld.
Celbee Van Hook goes to Art School, Otis College of Art and Design 2003
Oil on Panel, Painting, by Luke Van Hook
Photograph and Painting copyright Luke and Ginger Van Hook
Courtesy of the Van Hook Collection
"I'm So Sorry" Oil on Canvas, 14" x 16" Painting by Luke Van Hook, 2005
Photograph and Painting copyright Luke and Ginger Van Hook
Courtesy of the Van Hook Collection

On the fringes of the Golden State in Northern California
and the Silver State edges of Northern Nevada
one finds one of many rivers which flow down from the Sierra Mountains near Lake Tahoe.
This is the playground where artists Luke and Ginger Van Hook
took their dogs to hike, romp and play since the day they met in 1993.
This is a sacred place where we meditate upon nature,
the purity of the icy water and all the gifts that come from the mountainsides
and feed the agricultural paradise of the Carson Valley below.
Photo copyright Ginger E. Van Hook
Sasha Van Hook, a three year old red terrier mix is the new addition
to the Van Hook Family as of March 2007.
Luke and Ginger take Sasha to the same river
where all their other dogs had romped and hiked and played before.
Junior, the 140 pound Rottweiller, Bella the Airedale and
Celbee Van Hook, the Queensland Heeler
all took turns in their short lives collecting rocks from the river,
catching sticks in the woods, and chasing fish
in the translucent river waters of the forests on the border of California and Nevada.
Sasha Van Hook, unlike her predecessors before her, does not like water or getting wet.
Thus, Sasha prefers to chase squirrels and rabbits and deer, but she won't go near the water.
Photograph copyright Ginger and Luke Van Hook, 2007
Courtesy of the Van Hook Collection
After a long hike, Luke Van Hook poses with Bella and Celbee
in Indian Hills above our home in an area of Carson City, Nevada, 1999.

Bella would often wake Luke up in the morning with a robust bark
as she pounced his chest, urging her beloved owner to take her for a walk.
Digitally enhanced photo by Ginger Van Hook, 2005
Writer/Photographer Enilde Ginger Van Hook
poses for Luke Van Hook as a model with the dogs Celbee and Bella
during their years in art school at Otis College of Art and Design.
Photograph and Painting copyright Ginger and Luke Van Hook, 2003
Courtesy of the Van Hook Collection.

Tribute to Celbee, (Red Queensland Heeler) and Poem
by Luke Van Hook, 2004

Death has graced my door a few times. How come every time that bastard steals away someone that I’m close to I become pissed and jealous? It’s the only time that nothing else matters. Nothing, including painting and I hate it for having that power. Celbee our dog is courting death right now. The tumor is cutting off his breathing. It forces itself through the roof of his mouth to where he can barely close his mouth. It squeezes its way alongside his brain so that his right eye is going blind as it bulges out of its socket. I write this after picking up the bloody chunks that Celbee is able to scrape out with a little pebble he found in the dirt. He’s invented his own tool for dealing with death. I wonder if he knows that his time is limited? The cancer ticks away at Celbee’s time with us. Death doesn’t play favorites. This I respect. I find strength in thinking about other things. Can you imagine an art of pure emotion, no excess? What form could it mediate in? I can only think of Bas Jan Ader’s, ‘I’m too sad to tell you’ photograph that comes close.
But, this will change.


Where are you at?
Really, are you better off?
As I sit on your blood soaked couch
The weight of your head is tattooed
In my thoughts.
This morning we fed the prisoner
his last meal of bacon and eggs
and took him for a long walk down by the sea.
This day the ashen clouds parted to light your path.
I’m sorry. When you crawled under my chair
To get away from the doctor I knew you were not ready.
But I dragged you out to help you feel better.
Did I do the right thing?
Should I have picked you up in my arms
and run away with you till you told me it was time?
Could you still see me when your lip was quivering?
I miss the sound of your voice already.
You fought your way out of this cruel world with your eyes wide open.
Thank you.
If it is a lonely place, wait for me, I won’t be much longer.
Good Bye, Good Bye, Good Bye.

Artist statement by Luke Van Hook,
Courtesy of Van Hook Published Thesis,
Otis College of Art and Design, Los Angeles, 2004

Luke Van Hook's current work
in the area of abstraction
with an emphasis on the
can be viewed on his website



The "Church of Art" is located in one of the buildings inside the artist colony known as The Brewery Arts Complex in Los Angeles, California. Usually, a church is linked with holy worship, service to the community, and in particular, spiritual matters. A church is often where people go to seek comfort for the death of a loved one, to rejoice in the celebration of weddings and or to collect one's spiritual blessings or to simply and most importantly, to worship the God one believes in. At the Brewery Arts Complex there is such a space, aptly called "Church of Art" where the activities are somewhat unexpected. There seems to be a worship of the arts in particular and a great deal of artistic and musical performing, artists gathering and joyous merriment occurring in a space that seems to transcend its own mission...aptly located off of Mission Street on the 5 freeway. Beside this building and a few yards down there is indeed a small niche where one may seek comfort for the death of a beloved pet,
called "Alex in Welderland".
Photo copyright Ginger Van Hook, 2007
The celebration times are posted outside the "Church of Art",
Brewery Arts Complex, Los Angeles, California.
Photo copyright Ginger Van Hook, 2007
The "Church of Art" located inside the Brewery Arts Complex, Los Angeles, California.
Photo copyright, Ginger Van Hook 2007
Just off of Mission Road from the 5 freeway, one finds the infamous
Brewery Arts Complex, supporting a unique artist colony.
Photo copyright Ginger Van Hook, 2007
Located within red brick and morter,
one finds the Brewery Artist Colony in Los Angeles, California.
Photo copyright, Ginger Van Hook 2007
A famous symbol of the triumph of local arts within the confines of a busy metropolis, one can see the tall column that portrays the name of an old Brewery that has been converted into an artist sanctuary where local artists live, work, play and perform their artistic rituals. One may also find comfort in a unique opportunity to memorialize one's pets by visiting Alex in Welderland in her artist space or visit
Photo copyright Ginger Van Hook 2007
Photo copyright Ginger Van Hook 2007

Sasha Van Hook accompanied me to visit the Brewery Artist Colony and personally met Alexandra of "Alex in Welderland". Sasha, the 40 pound red terrier mix wore a designer muzzle in order to encourage her good behavior with other doggies in the complex. Although Sasha was very cooperative and grateful to the artistic visit, she does not look particularly happy contemplating her next life. Sasha prefers to chase cats, intimidate other dogs and run loose, all activities that have been discouraged by her new family
unless she is behind a strong fence.
Photo copyright Ginger Van Hook 2007

ALEX IN WELDERLAND, artist statement 2007
courtsey of her website

Each of these hand created pet cremation urns are customized
for your special, beautiful, wonderful, perfect pet.
Hello, My name is Alexandra.
I want to welcome you to my custom pet urn memorial site,
dedicated to all the dogs and cats who await us on the Rainbow Bridge of our hearts.

I have been a metal artist for the last 15 years. I have also been picking lost pets up off the street and finding homes for them for just as long. Both are my love.
I know what it is like to lose a dog or cat that you love so much.
We know they await for us over the Rainbow Bridge,
but for us down here, our hearts still grieve.

I hope I can ease your loss today. I started creating these pet memorials and urns as small memorial sculptures. I have lately included some wonderful hand chosen artists who are also creating beautiful memorials and urns for your pet. Every single one of these pet cremation urns are designed and made by hand especially for you. No two are ever alike, all are signed, dated, and each urn can be personally customized to your specifications.
They make a wonderful, sweet memorial to keep with you always.
Again, I am sorry for the loss of your pet.
But I hope by owning one of my pet memorials you will be reminded of the joy and happiness your dog, cat or other loved one brought to you and your life. This is a hard time, harder than most people admit.
Memorializing your loved cat or dog in one of our hand crafted urns
(we do not create the urn until we receive the order from you)
will help heal your heart of this loss.
Remember, even if you are scattering or burying your pet's ashes,
you can order one of these pet urn sculptures
to keep in your home as a beautiful memorial to your loved one.
It does not have to be a "cremation urn"
but rather a memorial work of art.
When you purchase an Alex in Welderland Urn,
you are free to place it anywhere in the house.
For it is a sculpture, and does not look like the customary 'urn' or cremation 'box'.
I look forward to hearing from you. Be well, Alexandra

Pet Memorials
The loss of your pet can be a devastating time.
Often it is too emotional to even think of what to do with the body or ashes. Later we may regret that we did not cremate our loved one so we could have a pet memorial in his or her honor. This is o.k. I created these pet memorials for you to use with or without ashes.
You can simply put a letter in the memorial and then seal it.
Or you can request the cremation urn without an opening at all
and then your pet memorial becomes a true sculpture honoring your little one.
And remember they really do wait for us over the Rainbow Bridge.
If you prefer, please choose from our pet memorial portraits.
This is a wonderful way to remember your little one
if you no longer have your pets ashes
or are looking for something to go along with your pet's cremation urn.
Remember these urns do not need to contain ashes,
they can also be used as simple sculptures
if you do not have your pets ashes or have scattered them.
----Alex in Welderland



Drawing courtesy of Artist Elena Wolek

Dog on Table & Girl with Treat
Drawing courtesy of Artist Elena Wolek

Man Sniffing Dog #1
Drawing courtesy of Artist Elena Wolek

Dog Drinking Girl's Coffee
Drawing courtesy of Artist Elena Wolek

Woman Taking Photo of Dog on Table
Drawing courtesy of Artist Elena Wolek

Hungry Dog Stares Down Man Eating Burger
Drawing courtesy of Artist, Elena Wolek

Meditation of Woman, Dog and Cat
Drawing courtesy of Artist Elena Wolek

French Poodle Sits On Woman's Lap
Drawing courtesy of Artist Elena Wolek

Meditation of Woman and Dog
Drawing courtesy of Artist Elena Wolek

Two Dogs and a Cat Meditating Together
Drawing Courtesy of Artist Elena Wolek

Man Sniffing Dog #2
Drawing Courtesy of Artist Elena Wolek

Enilde Van Hook Notes: I met Elena Wolek in 2008 at an Artist Critique Session with a group of artists represented by Gallery 825 and the Los Angeles Art Association. The "O" Salon was hosted by Linda Kunik in her Beverly Hills studio for alumni, students and professional artists from Otis College of Art and Design. Elena Wolek was visiting and brought her drawing book. During the break, my husband Luke and I went through her entire book delighting in the caricature of her images and decided then and there that she fit in with the theme for this blog entry: "The Art of Lovin' Animals". Her artist statement and list of exhibitions are listed below. Elena Wolek's artwork may also be viewed on her website:

Elena Wolek, Artist Statement
born 1972

I was born and raised on the shores of Lake Baikal, Russia in the eastern part of Siberia during the last days of the Soviet Union. Living through those times gave me intense experiences socially, intellectually and culturally that established my persona.

In 1993 I received an Associate of Arts Degree as a construction technologist.
However, I had no opportunity to work in such profession because of political and
economic changes happening during the fall of the former Soviet Union.
In 1997 I received a license to start up a private business and opened a fashion boutique.
I would travel directly to China to import goods for my shop.
In 1999 I have met an American man who became my husband. In 2001 I moved to the United States. We live together in Los Angeles with our daughter. I am currently enrolled in the Santa Monica College Art Mentor program.

My challenges in coming to this country were social and economical differences.
As I assimilated to my new lifestyle and surrounding life, I realized how narrow points of view of political knowledges were given to both our countries about each other during the Cold war.
I had a baggage of values that had to be reevaluated. Discovering America opened my mind to the world and I now accept the differences in human cultures as a precious gift.

Art is a language for me and I express my observations of the world through it.
Everyone has a privilege to see the world in their own perspective that is given to us by our culture and it is part of our inner and outer being. My conscious and subconscious are juxtaposed in my art. I share my experiences and interpretations of my views from my life in Russia and America.

In the dog drawings I put together dog and human in the moment of a contact that establishes a relationship. But who is who in reality, being that the roles are reversed? A homeless and hungry dog can be a poor human being like beggars in downtown Los Angeles. Sometimes we use word “dog” to describe our own condition “hungry as a dog,” “dog-tired,” “every dog has its day,” etc.

If you are dog in Siberia, you experience a very harsh life. You are meant to be a guard for people’s property and that is it. You live outside even in the cold of winter, and most of the time attached to an iron chain only a few meters long. You have a small ‘doggie” house the size of your body, but not always high enough to stretch your back; but it will be warmer in a winter to heat up the interior with your own breath. Your food is scraps from your owner’s table diluted with warm water and bread for a larger amount. You are lucky if you have it once a day. If you are a bitch, your new born puppies will be most likely taken from you right after you deliver them and you never see them again, being that they shall most likely be killed.
If you are dog in America, you have a wonderful dream life. People have an enormous attraction to their pets. As an average American doggie you have many privileges, such as nice house with bed shared with your owner, personal doctor (sometimes even orthodontist), nice clothes if it is cooler outside, regular walks and food by schedule. People are so kind and lovely, they like to talk, to play and buy special treats for you.Dogs can live as nice a life as some people wish, or dogs can live a terrible life as some people do.
It’s a dog eat dog world.

Art Exhibitions, Elena Wolek

2006-West LA college gallery. Group show.
2008-SMC mentor program group show.
2008-Upstairs Market gallery. Group show.



Untitled Drawing, Courtesy of Zareh
Untitled Drawing, Courtesy of Zareh, 2001
Untitled Drawing, Courtesy of Zareh, 2003
Untitled Drawing, Courtesy of Zareh, 2003

Enilde Van Hook notes:
I met Zareh through the Monrovia Association of Fine Arts in 2005.
Zareh has a unique approach to art in that he uses several mediums to express his voice and his political views. I reviewed a number of his video works and then came upon one of his drawing exhibitions in Glendale where he utilized animals to express, in very subtle fashion, some of the feelings he has about the challenges of life he faced as he was growing up. One may visit his website by going to this link:

Below are links to a film of Zareh's artwork performance:

"The Red Trees Of The Armenian Genocide" is on YouTube and Zareh wanted to share them. They are 2 parts. Enjoy and please forward them to others--(Zareh) part 1 part 2

Artist Biography and Statement, 2009

Zareh was born in 1956, in Aleppo, Syria, to Armenian parents. In 1963 he moved to Beirut, Lebanon, with his family.
At 12, Zareh began taking art classes. After high school, he attended fine art classes at Al Kaslik University for a year, until his academic studies were curtailed by the outbreak of the Lebanese civil war. The hostilities had a profound effect on Zareh.

Zareh moved to the United States in 1983. Since 1988, he has participated in numerous group and solo exhibitions throughout Southern California, and has staged several live,public exhibits.Zareh lives and works in Los Angeles.

Zareh, Artist Statement:

Existence is a collective experience. The feeling of existence is a sense of being different. Differences engender reaction and reaction leads to change. Life is the change. Changes bring awareness of time and movement. Differences enable us to compare and measure. Measure and proportion are the logic of mind. Completion and perfection do not exist. Reality is not absolute, it is relative. Art is an expression relative to environment and period.
My art is an act in which time and transformation seek existence in movement, change, sequence, repetition, relationship and resemblance. My work conveys feelings, imagination, communication, struggle, relief and my marks of existence.

Below is more about the use of animals in my artwork:

I have been influenced by animals and used them in my art.
Long shapes from animals have been shown more in my art,
like beaks of birds, sharp, coming down as the long metal
of ambrellas in a windy and rainy day, the hair and horn of a
running animal, the legs and tail of a horse, fish flying out of a pan,
group of people becoming the wing of a bird, roof tops becoming
teeth of a dog or becoming tails of an attacking airplane bomber.
Shapes repeated and changed becoming or resembling something
else in a different situation.