Deviant Art: Dispelling Myths

HeARTs Speak member Sarah Thornton of Lintu Art is the curator for the benefit art show, Deviant Art: Dispelling Myths. The show, now in its fifth year, raises funds for A Rotta Love Plus, a Twin Cities pit bull and Rottweiler rehoming, advocacy, and education organization.

This year’s event at the Northrup King Building in Minneapolis showcases work created by local and national professional artists, including Hearts Speak members Sarah Thornton, Sarah Ernhart, and Colleen Rudolf.

The juried show explores the theme of “deviant” breeds—beloved canine companions who are often portrayed by the media as menaces. The multi-medium art exhibit focuses on Rottweilers and pit bulls, but other breeds that have been similarly characterized are included.

As both curator and artist coordinator, Sarah has been the lead for the show since its inception. A committee of dedicated volunteers work to make the event happen and run smoothly.

Sarah is gearing up for the opening night, April 6, 2013. She loves to talk about the event. “It’s a lot of work putting it together,” she says, “but these pitties and rotties are worth every second. I can talk someone’s ear off about this show.”


How did you become involved with A Rotta Love Plus and curating a benefit art show?

My husband and I adopted George in 2008. I wanted to give back to the program that saved my dog from animal control. A Rotta Love Plus does awesome work with other dogs and the community. They are a strong advocate for “deviant” breeds, and art is the way I can give back.

I was inspired by my dog George to use my talents to raise funds and awareness for A Rotta Love and their awesome programs. My work as a pet portrait artist generates energy, inspiration, and love for me, and I wanted to gather a group of like-minded artists to form the show. The result so far has been amazing and positive!

What would you like people to come away with after seeing the art show?

I hope that this event spurs conversation about various issues faced by pit bulls, Rottweilers, and other breeds. I’d like people to think about the pictures in their mind that they’ve developed about certain breeds of dogs, the people that interact with them, and the issues these dogs face. I hope that visitors can come away with the knowledge that these dogs need ambassadors. There are struggles ahead, but there is also hope.

I love that you accept all mediums, including music and dance. Can you describe an entry (or potential entry) of this sort that might be included?

We have had artists approach the topic through song and have yet to have a performance piece submitted. We hope that more artists develop pieces involving sound and movement to reach more audiences. If we have entries like these, we ask that artists record the works since we do not have space or sound equipment for live performances.


Do you think this kind of gallery event—showcasing dogs in art—is adaptable to other locations and situations?

I do think that this format can be made more accessible to people by allowing certain works to travel. I hope that we’re able to secure a grant that would allow the show to travel to communities that would benefit from having an opportunity to discuss these issues. Artwork involving dogs is an accessible way to start conversations. Deviant Art tries to incorporate professional and emerging artists as well as involve youth groups and adults with disabilities.

Any other information or thoughts you’d like to share?

This year we’ll have guest appearances from Wallace and Hector (two pack members of our featured artist Clara Yori). We also will have work created by youth from The Bridge, a program centered around helping youth through crisis and homelessness. Paired with 30+ professional artists, these two new features will make this fifth show even better than prior events!

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Charlene Logan Burnett

Charlene Logan Burnett

Charlene Logan Burnett is a writer and animal advocate. She founded Sheltered: An Art Benefit for Animals at Risk for which she received a Pollination Project Grant. She is board member of Pet Assistance League of Northern California and NorCal Collie Rescue.