This Friday, Twin Kittens gallery will host a reception for Maddie the Coon Hound and Theron Humphrey. The star of the show is canine Maddie, a good-natured shelter rescue with an acrobat's sense of balance and the preternatural stillness of a street performer. Her owner, Theron Humphrey, adopted her while on the road doing a documentation project called This Wild Idea, in which he photographed a different person every day for a year. That project earned Humphrey the title of National Geographic Traveler of the Year. While working on This Wild Idea, Humphrey began photographing Maddie, too. Aside from the exhibition running at Twin Kittens through Feb. 17, Maddie has already become a Buzzfeed star and an iPhone app and will soon be a book.
I caught up with Humphrey and Maddie at Grant Park Octane to discuss the project.
Creative Loafing: Where did you find Maddie?
Theron Humphrey: I was on the road this past year with This Wild Idea and along the way I started photographing Maddie. She's my companion. I actually adopted her from the Cobb County Animal Shelter. Just to do something different one day, I picked her up and put her on my truck and she just stood there still and I thought,"'This is amazing!" because I thought I was going to have to hustle.
CL: So you took that first picture with Maddie and she just turned out to have an affinity for it?
TH: Yeah it grew from there to a trash can to a road cone to two signs. Obviously I'm familiar with William Wegman and I'm informed by him. I think part of what made my work really appealing was that it's all across America and there are so many images. We have a book coming out with Chronicle Books in San Francisco and it's 160 pages.
CL: Does Maddie just place herself on things now, or has she gotten better over time?
TH: She likes to climb; she's an inherent rock climber. When I started I was just training her with food using "stay" commands. She's very food-driven; she'll do anything for food. But at this point it's seemingly second nature for her.
CL: She's the most agreeable dog I've ever seen.
TH: She does have interesting balance, and I think she's really pretty.
CL: How old was Maddie when you got her?
TH: She was 1. I really wanted a dog to travel with and some people were hesitant about it and it is difficult but it's like having kids, it becomes what you know and what you love and so many good things come from it. It's not always awesome, though. Sometimes Maddie's tail is in my face in the truck and I'm like, "Maddie! Lay down!"
CL: Do you have a pretty good roster of dog-friendly hotels across America?
TH: I've actually slept the majority of the time in the back of my truck. I have a camper shell, so I think I've only stayed in five or six hotels across America.
CL: How'd you get hooked up with Twin Kittens?
TH: Jeff Guy, the founder of Twin Kittens, also works at Trinity Anglican Mission and I knew him through there. When I first started this project he was really supportive, both with the Kickstarter and, when I was on the road, with sending me encouragement. And then it grew and got some popularity and I really wanted to give back to his space. I think they do good things for Atlanta, especially as the arts are such a hard thing to keep going here.
Maddie the Coon Hound and Theron Humphrey runs at Twin Kittens Gallery through Feb. 17. An opening reception will be held on Fri., Jan. 25 at 7:30 pm. More details at the gallery.
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