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While sorting through old paintings in her living room recently, artist Karen Kosoglad remembered when her dog, Loke, died. Overwhelmed with grief, she needed to get out of the country, and boarded a plane to Italy.

Kosoglad had rescued the 100-pound German Shepherd mix as a puppy from PAWS 11 years earlier. Soon after, his figure began appearing in her artwork.

Loke and Kosoglad’s next dog, Tova, are depicted in two pieces on display at the Kirkland Art Center’s exhibition “Gone to the Dogs” alongside the work of more than 40 other artists. Free to the public, the show will run through Jan. 11.

More than 100 people attended opening night on Nov. 8, and five pieces of art were sold, according to the center.

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Donna Lindeman Porter, the exhibition’s curator, hand selected one of Kosoglad’s pieces for the show. Porter said she fell in love with the painting’s unique composition.

“It was moody, and when you see the other things that I chose, it has a different voice,” she explained. “It really spoke to me.”

“Tova and Figure” is an oil on canvas. The pup is positioned above a woman’s form in what Kosoglad calls, “a metaphysical dreamlike landscape” — it doesn’t fit the conventional perspective equation of foreground, middle-ground and background.

And it counters, Kosoglad said, the concept of dog and master, dog and owner.

“The dog hovers above the figure; it is a dream, a form, a love, protection” she said. “And that’s how I feel about dogs in my life. They symbolize loyalty and faithfulness; they’re in the thick and thin with you.”

The exhibit encompasses a spectrum of art forms from photographs and illustrated upholstered chairs to vibrant paintings — one housed in a brown furry frame — and sculptures. Porter motioned to a gruff concrete bulldog with a cigar.

“This piece is about good old boy, cigar chomping politicians in Tacoma,” she said.

“Gone to the Dogs” is open for interpretation — the art embodies a mixture of political, social and emotional messages.

“You can put a little doggy in a painting and that’s ‘gone to the dogs’ or I can say, ‘Jesus I’ve gone to the dogs, my life sucks,’ ” Porter explained.

Most pieces it seems, unsurprisingly to Porter, are an ode to the furry friends.

“It’s obsessive, we’re all obsessed. Sometimes your work is part of your heart and your memories,” she said. “And because you have a talent, you want to honor that memory or thing with the skills you have.”

Devon Geary:

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