Work of the Week– “Ingres Safari Lady and the Pedestaled Wolf Hound – Crufts” by S. Tucker Cooke
By Matt Gorga
Admittedly, I am a dog lover. I was drawn to this piece by how beautifully and realistically the “wolf hound” is depicted with its wispy hair and the oh-so-common “dog smile,” as I have come to call it. Looking into the piece further, I was intrigued by how the depiction of the woman is a bit more formulaic or stylized. It creates an interesting contrast, as does her attire, with what reminds me of a somewhat toned down baroque gold and red patterned background.
S. Tucker Cooke is an Asheville resident who works primarily in acrylic and mixed media. His works often portray and balance supposed opposites, as is demonstrated in this piece most noticeably by the “Wolf Hound” and the “Safari Lady.” Cooke has participated in multiple solo exhibitions and has work in the Hunter Museum (Chattanooga, TN) and the Mint Museum (Charlotte, NC), as well as the Asheville Art Museum where a major retrospective of his work was held back in 1976. He was also a member of the UNC Asheville Art Department until he retired in 2006.
Have you ever seen the movie Charlie Wilson’s War? I can’t help but think of Julia Roberts playing the character Joanne Herring, a rich Texas socialite, as she is introduced at a lavish party trailed by two greyhounds. It was an amazing touch in the movie, and really added to her luxurious, upper echelon portrayal. I get the same feeling from the acrylic painting above, leading me to believe that this “Safari Lady” is an upper-class socialite, herself. Of course, the color schemes, gold jewelry and dress are all indicators of her class as well, but I am a bit thrown off by the dress color…
Artwork above: S. Tucker Cooke, Ingres Safari Lady and the Pedestaled Wolf Hound-Crufts, c. 1976, Acrylic painting, 73.25 x 55.5 inches. Museum purchase with funds provided by the N.E.A..