Courtesy the artist Jon Bernad's photograph of Tula (Museum of Jurassic Technology)
*5 Artsy Things to Do in L.A. This Week
The Museum of Jurassic Technology (MJT) in Culver City has a permanent exhibit devoted to the Sputnik space dogs, dogs found on Moscow streets, trained, dressed in dog-sized space suits then sent into orbit by the Soviet space program late in the 1950s and early in the 1960s. The exhibit features close-to-life oil paintings of the five who never returned and, if you've been there, you know the corridor they're hung is eerie. The dogs seem to glow but everything else is dim.
When Jon Bernad visited a few years ago and entered the corridor, he was taken aback by the figure of an actual dog coming toward him. "I think it's Werner Herzog who talks about coming over a hill and seeing windmills and not even understanding what he's seeing," says Bernad. He felt like that and wasn't sure the dog was real at first. She is, she's named Tula, and Bernad has been back to the MJT a few times since to see her. A few months ago, he took a photograph of her, lying still with legs sprawled below the depictions of the disappeared Sputnik dogs. It's now part of Bernad's growing Art Dogs series, portraits of dogs who spend their lives around art.
Bernad's project officially began this past summer when he launched the Art Dogs tumblr, but he started noticing dogs who live with art almost as soon as he started visiting L.A. galleries and museums circa 2007. Then, he had just moved to L.A., his full time job was to keep two French bulldogs company and he had just befriended French curator Isabelle Le Normand. They were learning to navigate the city together. The dogs were familiar when the rest of the art world wasn't.More »