If there is anything which might rival Knoxville’s love for craft beer it may be its affection for our canine friends. We are an extremely pet-friendly downtown and dogs have become part of the culture of our city. Whether it means funding dog parks or having parades specifically for our four-legged friends, we are there.
If you’ve been inside CitiFid-o (429 Union Ave.), in addition to everything you might imagine dog-related, you also may have noticed a particular style of art on the wall. The art is by local artist Michael Taylor whose prints, originals and greeting cards are sold in the store, as well as at Baxter and Bailey in Nashville and via his website, Doodlewags.com.
Originally from Oklahoma, he’s lived in Knoxville for twenty-four years, moving here as an advertising manager before forming his own company, Taylor Graphix. After being diagnosed with leukemia nine years ago, he began painting as he recovered from a stem-cell transplant.
The nurses liked his work and he began showing it at the Farmers’ Market where he found a great reception to his art and enjoyed seeing people laugh. He had a successful showing at the Super Zoo Trade Show in Las Vegas. While his wife works as a teacher at CAK, he increasingly focuses on his art.
His dog caricatures attempt to capture some element of their personalities as described to him by their owners. You can see some examples in the photographs here, such as “Jake, the Conqueror of Spectacles,” so named because of his penchant for lifting his owner’s eyeglasses.
Recently, he was approached about the possibility of illustrating a book about a white boxer – apparently white is a color which is under-appreciated for the breed – and he became involved with “Murphy’s Heart,” providing the illustrations for the children’s book authored by Joy Duke, which teaches the importance of accepting differences. Proceeds from sales of the book go to the I Am Joy Foundation, which is dedicated to helping neglected, abused and abandoned animals. They support only no-kill shelters.
He also did the lay-out for the book, as well, drawing on his design experience. Jostens, a publisher normally associated with high school yearbooks, agreed to publish the book and Murphy and his book have been making the rounds since its debut. Michael had illustrated one book prior to, “Murphy’s Heart,” titled, “Soul Improvement,” which used Biblical characters in surprising ways.
The actual Murphy, star of the book, complete with the heart-shape on his ear, along with Mr. Taylor and author Joy Duke will host an event at CitiFid-o on Saturday from 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM and another event on Sunday at Mast General Store. You’ll be able to purchase the book, get it signed and pick up a print or an original painting. All the money raised from sales of the book go to the I Am Joy Foundation.
If you are interested in contacting Michael to have order a portrait of your pet or to purchase prints, originals, cards or gift certificates for pet portraits, you may email him at Mike@doodlewags.com. Or you can simply find him, and meet Murphy as a bonus, this weekend at CitiFid-o or Mast General Store.