Stray Dog Arts

Lovely Letters and Words :: Now Available! ::

I bet you thought that I only painted dogs. Well, the truth is that I paint mostly dogs. I paint dogs on a full-time basis, but (SURPRISE!!!) I also paint cats and people and coffee cups and letters and landscapes and.... I guess you could say that this is one of the things I love most about being a "stray dog." There's always room for discovery, play, and adventure. Or, at least, there should be!

I am proud to announce that I finally, yes FINALLY, have brand-spankin'-new alphabet prints for sale on "other" Etsy. Just in time for the holidays. ;) These are Giclee Fine Art prints on gallery stretched canvas, each measuring 8"x 8". I don't mean to brag, but they doooo look pretty dang cool. Hang alone, build words, spell names, or collect the whole alphabet.

You know they'll love you for it!

I have had so much fun with this project. It started out as a commission, but somewhere along the lines, took on a life of its own. It has taken me many months to complete, but was well worth the energy. The originals are 18"x 18" oil on canvas and will be installed in a grid to create an 8 foot x 8 foot alphabet masterpiece. Each piece was inspired by vintage metal or wood signage--from Las Vegas bone yard signage to Minneapolis cafes (and everywhere in between!). Would it be obvious if I told you: I have acquired a newfound love of LETTERS!!

They have now been added to my Patch of Sky Etsy and are available for purchase. Keep an eye out because I will be adding words and prints on a regular basis! :) In the meantime, hopefully this will be enough to get you started. ;)

Visit my Patch of Sky Etsy here:

Happy Spelling!!!
...and Thanksgiving love to everyone!

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don't forget to check out the
Stray Dog Arts Etsy while you're at it! :)


Stepping in...

I returned home last night after spending a couple days immersed in the world of Red Lake Rosie's--an animal rescue situated on the Red Lake Indian Reservation of northern Minnesota. It seems that, lately, blog posts are not easy to write. Seriously, where to begin?

At the moment I am listening to the snuggle-puffin-play of Louie and Ella at my feet (Ella is a Red Lake Rosie's pup herself). They are happy that I'm home and are staying close to my side. To begin writing, I find the need to root myself in the moment. It is a gray almost-winter day that I am balancing with the glow of lamplight and a fresh mug of coffee--a habit I'm becoming accustomed to. I've decided to move through the day in a sacred way. A quiet way. I'm going to get a lot done, but I'm going to honor every action--and writing this post is my way of making sense of everything I experienced in the past 2 days. Of course, making sense of it could take days, weeks, months, years. Instead, perhaps I am sitting here with the intention of sharing--because I think we are capable of much more than we often give ourselves credit for. Karen Good, the woman behind Red Lake Rosie's, is an incredible example of what it means to make a difference.

But wait. I don't want to get sentimental and overly idealistic. Maybe I should start over.

This week I traveled 5 hours north and met a woman named Karen. 3 years ago she was driving to work taking photos of all the dead dogs laying on the side of the road between her house and Red Lake High School. There were more than 20. That was the day of the Red Lake shootings. Karen remembers the smell of gunpowder and fear. That day was also a turning point in her life. It was the day she brought her first stray dog home with her. Maybe it was then that the shift occurred--in the act of deciding to pull over and pick up a dog that needed help. It started out with one dog and then turned into another and another and another. Red Lake Rosie's was born and, since then, she has saved the lives of hundreds.

Karen is quite possibly the most incredible combination of ordinary and extraordinary that I have ever met. She is real. She is down to earth. She is hard-wearing, determined, humble, and intelligent. Her and her boyfriend, Kevin, sing together as she works--the sound of their voices weave together, causing shivers to run the length of my body. Karen has an open heart. She tells it like it is. She doesn't shy around the facts. She knows how to organize and delegate. Karen is a visionary. She has a name for every animal she brings in and knows exactly who each one is. Karen, to me, feels like a grandmother, mother, and sister--all at once. She is fierce, yet feminine. There has both incredible softness and strength in her. She is a teacher, of the truest kind.

Marilou, me, and Karen.

The shelter.
Many animals rescued suffer from disease, starvation, dehydration, mange or injury. The property behind Karen's house marks the beginning of a better life for all the animals that are lucky enough to find their way to Red Lake Rosie's.

Being swarmed by puppy love. I would have liked to simply lay down on the ground and be covered in snuggle kisses! But there was work to do, so I soaked up the love vertically instead.

100% certified Munchkin.
One of the pups at Red Lake Rosie's

The "big" dog clan.
These rescue dogs roam free, but never far from the place they are happy to call home.

This is "Rea Ann," a beagle (and possibly hound?) mix. She is one of the dogs we transported back with us to Minneapolis. Her shy, anxious nature reminded me of my babe, Louie. It breaks my heart to see a dog feeling nervous or scared. Mike, a volunteer at Red Lake Rosie's, was obviously a source of comfort for her. I can't wait to see who adopts her. She is going to be so happy with her new life. In the meantime, she will live with Ann, one of Pet Haven's best fosters. Rae Ann will be with someone who will help let her brightest light shine.

Karen feeds a gaggle of hungry dogs and pups canned dog food from a spoon.
They're crazy about it! They're crazy about her. ;)

This is "Mama." She stole my heart. Maybe it was because she reminded me of Sam, one of the first dogs whose transport I was involved with. Although Mama is still skinny, she is putting on weight after being found, just a rack of bones. Her eyes were pleading. I took her for an extra long walk and wish we could have gone even further. It was snowing and she was beautiful to be with. What these dogs want more than anything is love. I wanted to fold her up in my arms and hold her forever.

The "Cat House." This is Karen's old house, which has since been renovated into space to house rescued cats along with a guest room for people like Marilou and I. Have you ever fallen asleep to a room full of kittens purring and meowing? Well, I can now say that I have. It felt good to once again be sleeping in the middle of nowhere.

Morning chores. Life with dogs.

This is "Chief." And he certainly had the personality of one.
His breed and boldness made Marilou and I think of Ode.

Chief helping himself to a snack from the food bucket.

Bear kisses from Lauren.
We transported 3 cats to St. Cloud and 7 dogs back to Minneapolis with us. I picked out this big pup for my friend, Mary, to foster. The puppy's name is Lauren, but if it was up to me, I would name her "Bear." Honestly, I think this brown lab mix IS part bear cub! She is the biggest bunch of lumbering bear fluff I've ever met. Somehow, I hope that this pup stays in my life forever. I think she will--even if only through her ability to rearrange my heart molecules. How else could one heart hold this much love?

I'm already looking forward to my return. I have a feeling that it will be often.

Learn more about Red Lake Rosie's Rescue here.


Opening Night: a celebration in images

Cuppa Java.

Opening night crowd.

Me--feeling happy, exhausted, satisfied, blessed.

My Ella bean.

The biggest highlight of my night: meeting Ella's mama, Evy.

Ella might not look much like her mama, but I now know where she got her personality from!

Bella's "grandpa" taking in the show.

My brother, Nelson: The Thinker.
My brother and sister have come to all of my openings. I love them for this. :)

Tucker, a neighborhood dog, wanting in.

Tucker, the neighborhood dog, actually getting to come in!
Dogs allowed. One night only. ;)

A view from the side.

Missy, my soon-to-be new studio mate.

"Spice Girl...(aka Bella)"
Although I do not have a photo of it...the other biggest highlight of my night was seeing Bella reuniting with her foster mama, Ann. Such joy! Such excitement! Such LOVE! They were in their own world. So happy to see each other. It took my breath away. It took everyone's breath away.

Gus...the laughing Buddha!
Gus, formally known as "Snuggles" is blind...but oh so happy!

It was TRULY a night of bliss.

Thank you to everyone who was there!
And, if you weren't there, hopefully these photos will help you to pretend. ;)
Thank you Gus, Mandy, Missy, Ella, Peanut, Hazel, Koda, Bella, Evy, and Japser!
Thank you Pet Haven.

Thank you, Universe...for helping me make my life look like this.



Stray Dog Arts invites you!

Oil on Canvas

Please join me and the dogs of Pet Haven for an opening reception at Cuppa Java wine and coffee bar.

Thursday, November 13th at 7:30pm

RESCUED: Dogs of Pet Haven
Recent Works by Jessie Marianiello

Showing at:
Cuppa Java
400 Penn Ave. South
Minneapolis, MN 55405

Exhibition will be open
for the month of November

In celebration of new beginnings, here's to honoring the unique beauty of all animals in need!

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Artist's Statement:

My latest series of paintings is focused on dogs that have been given an incredible second chance. These are dogs that would probably not be here today if it were not for the collaborative efforts of people who care. Some of them have already been adopted, some of them are still waiting to find their forever home—but every dog comes with a story—a story that, through the act of painting, I strive to capture, honoring the unique beauty of each.

Jasper, despite his gentle soul, came from an overflowing shelter in Iowa and was scheduled for euthanasia. If it were not for the woman at the shelter who put out a call for help, if it were not for all the people involved in his rescue efforts…Jasper would be dead.

Hazel, a Hurricane Katrina dog, is still waiting to find her new family. She is looking for YOU. She’s been waiting for over two years.

Koda, a beautiful white husky, was left in an abandoned house, only to be found when it was discovered that the pipes had burst in the cold of winter. Koda is up for adoption. She is looking for the warmth and love that perhaps you can provide?

Peanut, along with several other dogs, a victim of dog hoarding, was found neglected and starving.

Spice Girl (now Bella), was found as a stray with her back leg injured, most likely hit by a car. She would not have survived without medical attention. She carried a litter of pups, of which only 2 out of the 5 survived. Her leg required amputation and they also learned that she’s deaf. But there’s a better part to this story: a family who loves her beyond words has adopted her. Her leg has healed. Her strength and beauty persists.

Eve (now Ella) nestled her way into my heart and has since joined our family and made herself very much at home. She is what I call an “occupational hazard”—one that I am grateful for every single day.

These are just some of the dogs I've painted. There's also Missy, Snuggles, Evangeline, and Mandy. Since beginning this journey of painting rescue dogs my life and work has taken on whole new levels of meaning. My heart can break open a million times during the course of the day, but it always comes back to hope, love and resilience.

It is my hope that this show will help some of these dogs get noticed—especially the ones that have fallen between the cracks, the ones that are in danger of being forgotten. What if every dog I painted got adopted? I wish for that. I hope for that. Lately, I find myself hoping for a lot of things. I like the way hope feels—even if it brings tears to my eyes on a regular basis. My heart feels rubbed raw, as though it is ready to burst. I admit that I think I even like the way this rawness feels. However uncomfortable, it makes me feel alive. It connects me. It breaks me open. These dogs fill my heart in a way that nothing else does.

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If you’re interested in adoption or volunteering please visit Pet Haven’s website at

In honor of the dogs that have changed my life, I am donating 20% of original artwork sales and commissioned pet portraits to animal rescue efforts until December 31st, 2008.

To commission a pet portrait of your own, please contact me.

May all dogs be happy!



© 2009 Stray Dog Arts, All Rights Reserved