Dog sculpture art project proposed in Duluth

During the dog days of summer, Shelly Howard is hoping to attract visitors to downtown Duluth to see an outdoor exhibit of artistically painted dog sculptures.

Howard, the managing partner of Duluth's Red Clay Theatre and Arts Center, is seeking permission from the city council to initiate a Dog Days of Duluth public art project and allow the dog sculptures to be placed on the Town Green, on sidewalks around City Hall and in front of downtown businesses.

The sculptures would be displayed from July through September, remaining in place for this year's Duluth Fall Festival, Howard said.

Howard, who also serves as secretary of Duluth's Downtown Development Authority, and Jennifer Freeman, who oversaw the mosaics in City Hall, are co-chairing a committee that was formed recently to organize the new project.

Sponsored by Duluth businesses, the dog sculptures would be painted by local artists, Howard said. The project is similar to Cows on Parade in Chicago, the Sandy Springs Turtles and the lil' chickens of Marietta.

Several dog breeds are being considered for the sculptures, including German shepherd, St. Bernard, golden Labrador, bulldog, greyhound, poodle and a reclining puppy, Howard said. Constructed of a sturdy foam-based product, the dog sculptures range in height from 2 to 4 feet depending on their pose. They would be placed on bases for display.

The dog sculptures would "attract people downtown," Howard said, and would be auctioned off to raise funds for community improvements.

Howard pitched the public art project to the Duluth Council at its Feb. 25 meeting. Councilwoman Marsha Anderson Bomar suggested that Howard coordinate the project and its dates with the city's Public Information and Marketing Department and bring her proposal back to the council. Mayor Nancy Harris said the Parks and Recreation Department should also be consulted since the sculptures would be placed in a city park.

Howard said she is making these contacts and planning to appear before the council in March.

"I envision this becoming an annual event with the mascot changing every year," Howard said.