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Pets of the Pandemic

Posted by HA Director on


September 8 - October 15, 2020

Throughout the Covid-19 crisis, pets have not only provided comfort for artists, they have also served as muses and models. In honor of this, Alpha 137 Gallery is hosting Pets of the Pandemic, an online-only art exhibition to benefit Best Friends Animal Society, a national animal welfare organization dedicated to ending the killing of shelter pets in America. The show will feature the winners of an open call that invited professional artists from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania to create original portraits of the pets that have helped them get through quarantine and lockdowns.
Jasper by Bob Leibow
Several hundred artists responded to the open call. The artworks had to be unique -no prints or multiples. The competition was juried by internationally renowned art historian David Cohen, publisher and editor of, and owner of Allegra, a 16-year old Italian Greyhound, well known to his social media followers. The result is Pets of the Pandemic, a charming show of 40 plus portraits of dogs, cats, as well as a horse, a bird, a guinea pig, a fish—and even a stuffed animal!  The winning artists come from each of the four states and range in age from early 20s to mid 80s. “It was great to see the varied and impassioned responses of such a cross section of artists, most of them new names to me. Artists are totally used to working in splendid isolation, putting them at a slight advantage perhaps. Of course, a portrait is just a way of saying thank you to the quadrupeds who help us remain sane,” said Cohen.
Two of the artists Cohen selected belong to Fountain House Gallery in the Bronx, which supports artists with mental illness. One of them, Susan Baus, whose son Robin also suffers from mental illness, created a collaged portrait of his cat Kiwi. In her application, she wrote, “Robin is isolated and at times feels suicidal. But he has told me that when he’s feeling on the edge, he thinks about how his absence would affect Kiwi. What would she feel if he should suddenly disappear?” Another work in the exhibition by Japanese-born artist Yookan Westfield is an exquisite painting of her cat Orange, whom she said is, “living peacefully indoors and free from the coronavirus.”  Westfield then added, “I wish I were a cat.” Other winning artworks were also cited for special recognition, including a portrait by Diana Kurz of her Chihuahua Dix/Dixie that Cohen commended for being “as adorable as a Renoir child portrait.”

The show can be seen on, as well as its popular gallery pages on and Proceeds from the sale will be split between Best Friends Animal Society and the artists themselves; Alpha 137 Gallery takes no profit whatsoever.
Pets of the Pandemic is the brainchild of art advisor, gallerist, and proud cat mom, Nadine Witkin, who said, “as Covid-19 was raging through New York City, I wondered how we could use our experience promoting and selling fine art online to help out—and to bring some joy to people during these difficult times. My father, a modernist sculptor [Isaac Witkin], who died in 2006, had seven shelter animals who helped him get through isolation, illness—and even the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Because of that, I was especially touched by the countless stories of pets who have been helping artists get through today’s COVID-19 crisis. So, I knew I wanted to help animals, but I also wanted to do something to help artists. Small and mid-size galleries were shuttering all around us, shows were getting canceled, and many artists were not only losing the chance to exhibit, they were also losing their second jobs. Artists are always being asked to donate—but now, more than ever, many also need help. So unlike other benefits, we decided that the artists in this exhibition would get 50% of sales proceeds. And, unlike most artist open calls, we didn’t charge any entry fee.”
These unique pieces are priced between $200 and $1,200 dollars each to make them accessible to a wide variety of pet lovers and art collectors, so buyers will be able to snag a real bargain while supporting both the artists and a worthy animal welfare organization.
Works can be purchased directly online at the exhibition will run concurrently on Artsy, Artnet, and Alpha 137 Gallery through October 15. Visit Alpha 137 Gallery on Instagram (@alpha137gallery).  

About Alpha 137 Gallery
Alpha 137 Gallery is a private art consultancy and popular online contemporary art boutique, with a decade and a half of experience selling fine art at affordable price points on, as well as popular sites Artsy, Artnet, Askart and Artspace and at auctions and art fairs. The gallery boasts an impressive, loyal roster of domestic and international clients - both seasoned and aspiring collectors. Its founder, Nadine Witkin, the daughter of renowned modernist sculptor Isaac Witkin (1936-2006), is an Emmy award-winning television producer who has worked at CNN, NBC News & Entertainment (“The Jane Pauley Show”), CBS News (“This Morning”), CBS News Productions, Al Jazeera America, Fox Business and A & E Networks, as well as independent film production companies.  She is also a member of the Board of Trustees of the International Sculpture Center, and a passionate contemporary art collector and advisor. Follow us on Instagram: @alpha137gallery and visit us online at
About Best Friends Animal Society
Best Friends Animal Society is a leading national animal welfare organization dedicated to ending the killing of dogs and cats in America's shelters. In addition to running lifesaving programs in partnership with more than 3,100 animal welfare groups across the country, Best Friends has lifesaving centers in New York City, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Salt Lake City, and operates the nation's largest no-kill sanctuary for companion animals. Founded in 1984, Best Friends is a pioneer in the no-kill movement and has helped reduce the number of animals killed in shelters nationwide from an estimated 17 million per year to around 625,000. That means there are still more than 1,700 dogs and cats killed every day in shelters, just because they don’t have safe places to call home. We are determined to bring the country to no-kill by the year 2025. Working collaboratively with shelters, rescue groups, other organizations and you, we will end the killing and Save Them All. To check out our pet lifesaving dashboard and for more information, visit
Join the conversation on, Twitter (@BestFriends) and Instagram (@BestFriendsAnimalSociety).

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