Blanton official leads tour of “In the Company of Cats and Dogs” exhibit

Rebecca Shanks

A tour at the Blanton Museum of Art’s newest exhibit, “In the Company of Cats and Dogs,” highlighted the character of cats and dogs throughout art
history Thursday.

The tour, led by Ray Williams, the museum’s director of education and academic affairs, displayed more than 150 works by such artists as Pablo Picasso, William Blake and others. The exhibit was curated by Francesca Consagra, senior curator of prints and drawings, and European paintings. 

“I am speaking from the perspective of both an educator and an animal lover,” Williams said. “Art offers us a cultural affinity. Today, we will see cats and dogs — not just from today but from worlds and years apart.”

Williams said, while viewing art in general is a stress reliever, cats and dogs offer an added benefit. 

“Cats and dogs teach us about relationships, love and bonding,” Williams said. “When we view them in art, it resonates [with us].” 

According to Williams, cats and dogs have a way of connecting people and breaking down barriers.

“What I hope people gain from the exhibit is that cats and dogs have a lot to teach us about both life and art,” Williams said.

Annie Oldham, an intern at Dell Children’s Medical Center, stopped by to remind herself of how soothing both art and animals can be.

“I hope to work with children who are in need of psychiatric care,” Oldham said. “The combination of art and animals are both so soothing for children with mental illness.”

Undeclared freshman Mitchell Roberts said he was unsure of what to expect from the exhibit. 

“I came today for my ‘Print in a Digital Age’ class,” Roberts said. “I haven’t been to an art exhibit in Austin yet, and this one seemed interesting because I have pets at home. Now that I know I’ve enjoyed the exhibit, I plan to bring my family here as well.” 

Martha Morgan, an Austin native who recently lost her daughter, said she finds a specific kind of respite through the exhibit. 

“I came today because my daughter loved cats and had a special relationship with animals,” Morgan said. “I have always wondered what it is about cats that makes people love them so dearly. I am beginning to understand.”

Correction: Williams was mistakenly listed as the curator of the exhibit.