RIP Tillamook Cheddar: Terrier Artist Extraodinaire 1999-2014

Painting by Tillamook Cheddar

“[Because of Tillie] I have had to rethink two of my most basic assumptions about art and life: first, the notion that animals cannot have an aesthetic sense; second, the core conviction that no sentient being could possibly paint anything worse than what Julian Schnabel recently showed at the Gagosian Gallery.”
-James Gardner, New York Post (May, 2002)

The Camp of the Space Wanderer has four distinct interactive elements:

1. Cosmic Dome: for chess, caravansary, and salon activities)
2. Mural (and light fixtures that double as seating)
3. TMSL “Big TV” mutant vehicle (stage and screen)
4. TMU/2 “A Toast for Tillie”

This blog post introduces Tillamook Cheddar, a Jack Russell Terrier from Brooklyn, New York, the TMU/2, and “a toast for Tillie.portrait

According to Wikipedia, “Tillamook Cheddar (January 17, 1999 – January 29, 2014; Tillie for short) is a Jack Russell terrier dog from Greenwich, Connecticut, who has acquired a reputation as an artist. She had work on display at the National Arts Club, collaborating on pieces that were shown with human artists such as Tom Sachs and Dirk Westphal.”


Considered the world’s preeminent canine artist, Tillie had more than 20 solo exhibitions in the U.S., Europe, and Bermuda during her 14 year career. Not everyone is so enamoured. Wikipedia quotes Art critic Michael Mills of the New Times Broward-Palm Beach as saying

“But to address a nagging question, do Tillie’s scratchings and bitings add up to art? Not to my way of thinking, and here’s why. To qualify as a work of art, at least in these postmodern times, a thing must be created with intent, and animals are not capable of intent in the same way humans are.”

Her first official biography, Portrait of the Dog as a Young Artist by F. Bowman Hastie III, published by Sasquatch Books (2006) details her process and describes her amazing career.

How does a terrier commit paint to canvas?

“The artist’s primary process was a dynamic color transfer technique. In preparation for each of Tillie’s works, her assistants assembled a touch-sensitive recording device by affixing pigment-coated vellum to a block of watercolor paper, with a sheet of clear mylar on top, to insulate the artist from the paint medium. Working on the outside surface, she applied pressure with teeth and claws in a methodic ritual marked by dramatic shifts in tempo and intensity. The resultant sharp and sweeping intersecting lines complement the artist’s delicate paw prints and subtle tongue impressions, composing an expressionistic image revealed on the paper once the outer layers of vellum and mylar have been removed. She worked with shocking intensity, sometimes to the point of destroying her creations.”


The TMU/2 is an active transportation unit (multiple occupant human powered with wheels and pedals vehicle) currently under construction that will entice participants to engage in a “toast for Tillie.”

Subscribe to Camp of the Space Wanderer to keep up to date with the design and progress of the TMU/2 and how we will be bringing it to you!


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