– Gone, But Not
June 7, 2004 – Louise
Peterson, an award winning sculptor who is well known in the Dane community
for her stunning bronze
sculptures, recently lost her studio model and beloved muse, 11-year-old
Nandi. Most of you, by now, are aware of Louise and her work. I am
one of her biggest
fans. When she informed me of Nandi's death, I asked Louise if she
would like to talk about Nandi on DaDane of DaWeek.
This is what she wrote:
QUEEN NANDI ZULU
February 3, 1993 - April 28, 2004
chose me as her caretaker when I went to see her at seven weeks old.
I picked her up and she smothered me in kisses. She continued to kiss
me for eleven more wonderful years. Although she had a few problems
as a puppy (endotropian surgery and panosteitis) she was incredibly
healthy from the age of two onwards.
the first three years of Nandi’s life I had a dog walking business in Los Angeles and
she enjoyed morning hikes, afternoon dog park socials and constant
doggie company at the bed and breakfast. Then we moved to the rural
mountains of Colorado, a small house on 30 acres, and we
only had to step off the porch to go for our daily mountain hikes.
husband, Chris, built me a small studio and I put a couch-like dog
bed in it.
Nandi, always at my side, would lie on it while I worked. I first learned
to sculpt the human figure while working with models, but in Guffey,
Colorado, there were no human models available so it was natural that
I began to sculpt Nandi. She was the inspiration for many sculptures
on Her Throne, Sit-Stay!, Couch
Time, Lean on
Me, Tickled, Zoomies,
the "Old" in The
Old and the Restless, Deer
Fly, First, Second,
and Third Stretch.
There is a part of Nandi in every sculpture I've created.
When Nandi turned nine we decided to get her a puppy to help keep her young. Nandi was always the top dog, but Bella really kept her moving; they rolled in the grass together
in the summer and crashed through the snow in the winter. What a life for a Dane!
A little after her eleventh birthday we noticed that Nandi was slowing down on our walks and starting
to breathe heavily. We took her to our vet, who referred us to a cardiac specialist. Nandi was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, but it seemed
we had caught it in the early stages and could expect many more months with treatment.
The medications seemed to work immediately, but soon Nandi stopped eating. At
first she would eat special treats, but eventually she turned from everything.
She began to lose weight, and we feared that we would have to make the difficult
decision to have our vet come out and euthanize her. But in a final gift to us,
she allowed nature to take its course. On April 28, 2004, she got up in the morning, walked out to her dog bed by my studio, waited until I came to sit with her, then laid
down on her side and peacefully died.
It was a beautiful warm spring
day the morning she died, but within an hour it turned cold and snow
fell. This cold weather proved to be a blessing, protecting her body
while we put into motion a plan that would both memorialize her and
allow her to continue forever as my model. Chris is a research associate
at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, one of the premier natural
history museums in the U.S., and we were able to arrange for the skilled
staff of the Zoology department to take Nandi and to prepare her bones
for articulation. In this way, she continues to give: to the Museum,
she will help sustain their dermestid
beetle colony and will provide
knowledge for the canid specialists; to me, she gives her bones so
I can better understand Great Dane anatomy through the process of putting
together her skeleton. When I am done, Nandi will be with me again
to model for all my future pieces. We thought long and hard about whether
do this, but decided in the end that we were honoring Nandi by this
process. After all, the beetles at the Museum are only speeding up
the natural process that would occur if we buried her.
Nandi was nine she lay in this beautiful pose, I got my camera out
and shot pictures from
every angle. I loved the way she curled up with her head resting on
stretched out legs all intertwined. I didn't start working on Senior
Moment until she became ill and I knew we didn't have long. Nandi
had many dog beds; this was the one she posed on and the one she chose
to die on. This piece is a memorial to Nandi and a tribute to senior
We miss you, Nandi.
Louise and Chris have created
a loving memorial
on their web site – it is well worth a visit.
work continues to garner some impressive awards. Her life-size bronze, Bella
and the Bug, was selected for exhibition at the National
Geographic Society's sculpture courtyard across the street from the
White House, in Washington DC. It will be on display for
a year, along with some sculptural works by other prominent artists.
Two weeks ago Bella and the Bug (again, the life-size version) was
into the National Sculpture Society's Annual Award Exhibition. This
show – only 36 pieces were selected out of hundreds of submissions
by artists around the country. Check out Louise's Exhibitions
& Awards page to read about these shows and other
awards she has received since the first of the year. Congratulations,
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