March 23rd, 2020

By Veronica Vale

Last month, my husband and I adopted our first ever dog, and, already, we couldn’t be more in love. Our little Zorro has been our constant companion and shadow since we rescued him, and I’ll be the first to admit that he has made life as a freelance artist and writer infinitely more enjoyable and, surprisingly, more productive. His routine helps structure my day and keep me to a reliable schedule; his company has eased any loneliness that comes with working from home; and his quirky personality, joyful spirit, happy wagging tail, and constant belly rub requests (ahem, read “belly rub demands”) have me laughing throughout the day. I know all too well that the life of an artist can be a beautiful, albeit solitary, one, and so my funny little shadow had me wondering, what other sweet creatures are keeping our artists company in their lives and careers? Well, you already know and love our artists, so this week, please allow us to introduce you to their best friends, in their own words:


Nina Tichava’s Dog, EDWARD

“Edward is the heartbeat of my family! He’s the 8 lb captain of our ship! Edward comes to  my studio nearly every day, and I’m convinced that he can tell time: at exactly 3:30 pm, he emerges from a nap, strides up to me, and reminds me that it’s time for a break. My studio is in a beautiful part of Santa Fe, next to a tree and grass filled meadow, along a stream…it’s the perfect place for a dog walk or a stick throwing session.”

“Having a dog keeps me present in the moment, and reminds me to get outside of my own head (which can be a challenge working alone 4-8 hours a day, 5-7 days a week). He has a big personality and is still very playful at 6 years old, so we laugh and play A LOT.”

“Edward is his own creature. I love that he’s a little willful and expresses his opinion about the life we lead together. He really is my constant companion and is with me for pretty much everything. Friends don’t know what to do when I show up WITHOUT Edward, it’s so funny. And because I feature him on Instagram and he comes out for openings and art events, I sometimes feel like he’s more recognizable than I am!”


Nelson Parrish’s Dog, DJANGO

“Django is jokingly called the studio manager and official greeter.  He can hear people walking up to the studio door well before I do. He also has this amazing internal clock and has had it ever since he was little. He knows when 2 pm is when it is time to do a hot lap around the block for some fresh air. When 5:30 PM rolls around, he has this alarm. He gets up out of the office, walks over to me and just stares at me with the expression of, “it’s quitting time.” Which is needed, because I often get so immersed in the studio I forget to even eat.”

“Django is a service dog, so I take him pretty much everywhere with me: collector meetings, gallery openings, the gym, going for coffee, my daughter’s preschool, riding shotgun, flying on planes. He is this quiet fluffy presence that is just always there. It is really hard to remember what my life was like before I had him.”

“Trust me, Django has personality.  When he decides to turn it on, it is magnetic.  Not bragging, but I have never had a dog that gets so many compliments from strangers.  People just flock to him and leave with a smile. And that, in a small way, makes the world a better place, which is why I make art in the first place:  to make the world a little bit better. So if we can’t get people to collect art, at least we can give them a little bit of puppy love.”


Cristall Harper’s Puppy, CRICKET

“Number one, Cricket is my studio buddy (Although, right now her puppiness means she’s only a distraction in the studio…haha). Number two, she is my muse.”

“I love her sleepy snuggles at the end of the day. Training her and seeing her mind work, and seeing it pay off. We’re really excited to take her on her first hunt next fall. Our last lab was a champion bird hunter.”

“My favorite thing about Cricket is the end of her tail. Labs’ tails should come to a point, BUT Cricket’s tail hairs have a funny growth pattern and the result is that the end of her tail looks like a firework. So we call her our Blast-Ended Skrewt (Harry Potter reference).”


Jylian Gustlin’s Dog, ALI (and her Chickens!)

“Dogs and cats have been part of my entire life and in my studio for years. They are naturally curious and get into just about everything but eventually settle, curled up against a painting. Our animals provide laughter, undying love, and are always there when you need a hug.”

“Although we have had up to 35 chickens at one time, they live in a coop and have a 3,000 square foot run. Sometimes we let them out and the dogs love to chase them around. My favorite part of having free range organic chickens are the eggs. The orange color of the yolk is intense as colors should be and taste as the green grass they feast on daily. The compost they produce is filtered back into our garden creating the complete circle of their life.”


Matt Flint’s Dogs, KELPIE, MAZIE, and late GOYA

“My dogs are part of the family. They are constant companions at home and out on the trails in the mountains.  I tried to have them in the studio, but that led to paw prints and dog hair on wet paintings as well as oil paint stuck to fur. If you look closely at any of my paintings I’m sure you could find a dog hair or two embedded in the paint.”

“When I take a break from painting they meet at the studio door or back door of the house. If I’m having a rough day of painting, I can count on them to lift my mood. I like to hang out with the dogs and play tug of war with their toys or just snuggle up with them on the couch. They constantly fill me with joy.”

“All of the dogs I have ever had are rescues. Most were pure or part mutt. We like to go to our local no kill shelter and walk the dogs. It’s hard not to take them all home.”


Gallery MAR owner, Maren Mullin’s Dog, MOLLY

“Molly is such a love, and our first child. We love her feisty attitude and our daughters love to feed and snuggle her. She is such a joy to come home to! We just love her fluffy coat and kisses!”

Looking for a new best friend like our artists’ beloved ones? Consider rescuing from your local shelter. For our Park City locals, Nuzzles & Co. is always full of critters ready to steal your heart. And remember, whoever your fuzzy, furry, feathery best friend is, our local artist Cristall Harper is always ready to immortalize them oh so sweetly!