The Great Homeless Dog

A while back I was in a show about the homeless. During the time I was working to finish my pieces, my artist friend Noah Edmundson suggested that I have a dog in the installation and he said he would make an armature for me. Of course I needed a dog. Why hadn't I thought of that? He makes the armature. It's perfect—lying down, legs splayed and head bowed in submission. A real homeless dog. While Noah makes the armature, I watch. We talk about this and that, people we know, what they're doing, what's going in Houston. About art. That kind of stuff. I find that we both have gout and should give up drinking beer. Rats! I love beer and I know Noah loves beer.

On the way to my studio with the armature, I get lots of steel wool at a hardware store. I'm ready to do the dog. In the meantime, however, I need to finish a huge drawing, 108" x 48" for the show. It's hung with block and tackle and mounted on plywood so I can move it up and down to draw. Back then I was already in my eighties. I was smoking and drinking too much, aging fast. My Alabama sister and I talk every day. I hog the conversation with my whining about my exhaustion and fear that I won't be ready for the show. Sometimes I even cry. My sister comes to Houston to help me with the dog (she loves dogs) and we work together with the steel wool—bundles of steel wool and bundles of splinters in our fingers. She is imaginative and creative. We finish in time!

At the opening I am nervous but swelled with pride. I look at this great dog. People are complimenting me on the dog. I don't mention Noah or my sister and how much they did to make it this perfect. This lapse is not deliberate. It is the result of my ego overplaying itself.

Anyway, here is the great homeless dog.

And here is my apology to Noah and Leigh.

I'm sorry. Love, Mary

Mary Jenewein lives and works in Houston, Texas.