Bruce Jackson (b. 1936), Emily Rose; Courtesy of the artist

Bruce Jackson (b. 1936), Emily Rose; Courtesy of the artist

Bruce Jackson Being There, Emily Rose

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Throughout the run of Being There: Bruce Jackson Photographs 1962-2010, the artist is sharing some of the stories behind his photographs.Being There is on view until June 16, 2013. The catalog accompanying the exhibition is available at The Museum Store at the Burchfield Penney.


This is Emily Rose, one of the great dogs. We got her as a pup from the Buffalo animal shelter, where she was trying to dig her way out of a cage with a concrete floor. Her paws were bloody. The guy down there said, "She'll grow some." Grow she did, to about 105 pounds, though she looked bigger because of all that hair. She'd often sleep with us at night, jumping onto the bed and somehow landing right between the two of us. Those jumps were epic achievements, I thought. No matter how small a space, she'd find it, never landing on either of us, then wiggle and push one of us aside (usually Diane) until she had what she considered her fair share of room. After a while, having established her place in society, she'd get up and spend the rest of the night on the marble in front to the bedroom fireplace. She preferred cooler place.For a while, so took digging her way under the chain link fence in our back yard so we lined the entire fence with railroad ties. Once, chasing a rabbit, she cleared the fence by a good foot. Happily, she didn't remember that she could do that; it was a leap under instinct and she never took it on as an option. She consumed a lot of objects around the house made of wood and leather: some hand-carved duck decoys, the toe of a pair of boots made for me at Capitol Saddlerly in Austin, Texas, 40 years ago, several chair legs, a bit of molding here and there, and some of the wicker baskets I used to let large loaves of bread rise in. When I learned about the boot (Diane and our daughter Rachel didn't tell me about that one for a while), I said, "That it. She's out of here." Then she got tranquil and became a real pal, the way great dogs can.

She loved two things more than anything else: snow and the car. In heavy snowfalls we wouldn't see her for hours, then a hill in the back yard begin to move, shake itself off, and head for the house. Sometimes, as here, she'd jump up and watch the snow fall on an iron table on the patio. In a good snow, she'd be completely covered. In the car, as long as I was going under 65 or so, her head was out the window. Sometimes, in warm weather, I'd open the sunroof and she'd put her paws on the console and her head out the top. That got some startled looks from other drivers.

She was almost always with me when I was photographing at Silo City. For me, it was protection: I'd sometimes be out there with a lot of expensive hardware; I never came across any villains there, but had I, I'm sure he would have thought twice about bothering me with Emily at my side. She'd never done violence to anyone in her life—but they didn't know that. She loved the place and knew every inch of it. Sometimes she'd go after a deer or a wild turkey, but mostly she stayed within hailing space. She had friends there–Rick Smith who owns most of the buildings and Jim Watkins who maintains them—and she'd visit them now and then. She took ill last fall and went out back, at first on the brick patio, then under a small oak. She stopped eating and drinking on the third day, turned toward the house, and died. We buried her under the magnolia street, where, over the years, she accumulated a fair number of rabbits and squirrels. The pictures below aren't in the exhibit, but they're among one of my favorites of her keeping me company. The first is in a scary place, the Cargill Electric elevator; the second, we're just looking at the river and the Standard Elevator across the way, hanging out on a nice afternoon, digging the world's symmetry.

-Bruce Jackson


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