After a long, hot, hard day fighting traffic, scrambling to complete tasks, and grinning through a mid-afternoon slump only to return to a now kiln-like vehicle to fight my way back home, nothing calms my nerves better than watching the fledglings on the front porch as they negotiate their tiny nest, loading up an old episode of Planet Earth, or searching the Internet for adorable puppy videos. These are the dog days of summer after all.

There’s just something about watching animals that is so relaxing. Children know. Their books are about them, their favorite toys resemble them, their first words often mimic them. This is no secret to pet owners either. Whether you live with a dog, cat, chicken, or llama, you know that gentle and comforting feeling they provide. Animals provide us with strength and guide us from our own awkward existence. Animals: Forces of Nature, an exhibition at Frank Gallery in Chapel Hill on view now through September 8, 2013, taps into this very special relationship we share with animals and will have you sweetly smiling at the sight of shy, grazing deer or a proud, pink pig.

Animals_Frank2Animals is co-curated by Frank Gallery artists Sudie Rakusin and Nerys Levy and showcases their work, the work of several gallery members, and six invited artists from the community. Louise Franke appropriates images from art history in a delightful way as in her piece Manet’s Golden, a nod to the French painter’s 1882 painting, A Bar at the Folies-Bergere. Replacing the barmaid in Manet’s masterpiece with a beautiful golden retriever, corseted and jeweled no less, Franke playfully draws upon our tendency to innocently anthropomorphize the animals in our lives.

Murray Handler takes a surprising approach to the depiction of our furry friends in his piece, Silent Winter. Placed among an abstracted forest, the vertical lines first expressed at random, the scene determined afterward, stands a family of deer searching the frozen ground. By combining his continued exploration of Abstract Expressionism with his new interest in Realism Handler reveals how our subconscious is filled with images of the natural world.

The programming in conjunction with Animals: Forces of Nature is also inspired and fun for the whole family. The Opening Reception earlier in July was catered with vegetarian foods and a photographic session with Frank Gallery photographers Barbara Tyroler and Bill McAllister, Dogs and their People, offered those registered the opportunity to sit for their own canine-friendly, family portraits. You won’t want to miss their next exhibition salon supporting Paws4Ever, the only guaranteed- adoption shelter in Orange County, on Thursday, July 25. And on Thursday, August 1, 4:00 to 5:30 pm, Frank Gallery teams up with Kidzu Museum for the “Have a Heart” workshop to share through art, craft, and stories how animals touch our hearts. Jenn Merritt with K9Kindness will also be there to demonstrate pet responsibility, teaching us how love for our pets extends to respect for people and all living beings. For more information on upcoming events at Frank Gallery visit their website,


Image captions:

Animals: Forces of Nature, an art exhibition at Frank Gallery

Louise Franks, Manet’s Golden, acrylic on canvas