MEET JACK, THE FOUR-LEGGED ARTIST!
Terrence Nowlin’s artist-pup Jack is going to be the voice of a generation. Even if that voice happens to be a bark. Jack’s art knows no limit, as Jack was recently inspired to make a grand work of art from one of Terrence’s wingtip shoes (the left shoe to be exact). The frayed and tattered masterpiece could not go unnoticed by the world, so Terrence has put the shoe up for bidding on Ebay (there’s still time left). We sat down with Terrence and asked him a few questions about Jack’s unbounded creativity.
Tell us all about you and Jack. Where ya livin’? How old is Jack? What’s your day job? etc.
My name is Terrence Nowlin and I live in Alexandria, Virginia in the DC metro area. I am the marketing communications manager for a nonprofit that provides employment opportunities for people with disabilities, so I do my less colorful writing during the day. I adopted Jack a year ago next week from a kill shelter in rural Virginia after finding him on Petfinder. I thought his picture was cute, but he won me over with his sweet personality. I didn’t know when I adopted him that his time was almost up, so it was good that I had come along. He had been picked up as a stray and the shelter thought he was mostly border collie. A DNA test proved that he is half Dalmatian, which explains his mouthiness and high energy level. He is estimated to be about two years old, so hopefully some of this chewing/jumping craziness will calm down a bit soon.
Tell us about the first time you discovered Jack’s work of art.
It’s funny because I had totally stepped over the chewed shoe in my bedroom when I woke up that morning after he’d spent the night chewing on it and I didn’t even realize it. Only later that day did I stumble upon his creation. I was on the phone with my mom and just said “Oh my God.” My mom asked what was wrong and I told her that I couldn’t do it justice with a description, that I’d have to send her a photo. I think my astonishment was a good indicator of the reaction that people are having to the work. There is a small group of “truthers” who believe the shoe was fabricated and not chewed by a dog. Anyone who knows me knows that with my fondness for shoes, there is no way I’d lop off a Cole Haan for an experimental eBay listing. And anyone who knows Jack knows that he chews everything imaginable.
Before the shoe, what was the most artistic thing Jack has done?
He is absolutely obsessed with my socks. He will dig through my dirty laundry, picking out every single sock among the other clothes. And if there are no more socks there, and my sock drawer is open, he’ll take out every pair, and unfold them. He then places the socks around the apartment, somewhat strategically. He doesn’t chew on them—he only deposits them. The artistic part about this is that it seems that he is trying to decorate my condo with socks. This can be frustrating when trying to get dressed in the mornings because I will have to match pairs from around the house if he’s done his work the night before.
Why did you decide to sell the piece?
This was a very nice shoe that I had not owned for very long, so it seemed a shame that it would suddenly be trash. But beyond that, It was partially because I thought tearing off the toe of the shoe was too much of an accomplishment just to throw away. And it was partially because I saw an opportunity to give my friends a laugh. I made the listing interesting, put up some pretty pictures of the artwork and set a high opening bid price. Rather than just entertaining my friends, it seems that it was the formula for a viral listing.
What has Jack thought about all this press?
I tell Jack every night when I come home that he’s a famous dog. Really, he just wants me to take him for a walk and feed him. He’s just as well loved as he was before, so he really hasn’t seen any change in his daily life except for the one television interview that we did via Skype. It turns out that he’s a very restless interviewee. But Jack loves people, so if this gives him a chance to jump on more people and to lick a few more faces, he’s all for it.
Has all this fame gone to his head?
Certainly not. He is humbled by all of the attention the listing has received. He’s no Kanye.
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve been asked on eBay so far?
I’ve had a few odd things mentioned. The most memorable is someone asking if the other half of the shoe would be available for sale once Jack passed it. I had to turn him down as Jack had already rid himself of the missing half. Plus I was not going to mail dog poop. There has to be some postal regulation against that. I also had a guy who offered to exchange a recliner that his dog had chewed up for the shoe. He lives in California and said he would drive to meet me in Kansas to pick it up after assuming that I own a pickup because I live in Virginia. I neither own a pickup nor need a chewed up recliner.
At the time we ask this question, the price is at $378 with 17 bids and a little more than 5 hours left. Do you predict it will surpass $400?
I’ve had a lot of experience with eBay and I know that hot items don’t get furious bidding until the last few minutes or seconds. At the time I’m writing this, I’ve had more than 37,000 views and I’ve got 1,259 watchers, plus a story about the shoe spent two days in rotation as the eBay homepage header, so it meets the definition of hot. This shoe is going to far surpass $400. How much beyond that figure is debatable since I don’t know what kind of crazy is placing bids.
What do you think this says about art? Can people find art anywhere?
Art is anywhere. Like beauty, it’s in the eye of the beholder. If legitimate artists can sell excrement as works of art, I can certainly sell a shoe that has been modified by an industrious canine. I mention in my listing that the work is meticulous. It really is. How a dog could make a cut that clean with his teeth is beyond me. So I think that skill plays as big a part in the creation of art as the design. Jack got both down pat with this shoe.
Thanks T! Any parting words?
I do want to mention that after bidding surpassed $300, I felt it was only right to add to the listing that I would be donating a portion of the winning bid to an animal rescue organization. I am a big advocate for adopting shelter animals rather than from breeders or pet stores. There are many great animals out there and it is my hope that I can prolong the lives of at least a few until they can be adopted.