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Danville Is Going to the Dogs

Colorful canines take over downtown in a new public art exhibition.


“I want to bring a happy moment to [people’s] lives,” says Pleasanton-based artist Claudette McDermott, who created this dog, called Butterfly Beauty.

Photo by Marija Nelson Bleier/Town of Danville

In Danville, even the pups are coming out to enjoy the summer sun. Dogs of Danville, Unleashed!, a public art exhibition opening this month, features 15 fiberglass dog statues, each a life-size representation of a standing or sitting petite Labrador retriever, on view in front of downtown businesses.

Stirred by San Francisco’s famous heart statues and a similar exhibition of jackrabbits in Vacaville, as well as resident requests for more public art, Danville’s arts commissioners chose to honor the town’s unofficial favorite animal at a time when seasonal visitors can enjoy the sculptures too.

All the artists participating in the show are based in the Bay Area. “In Danville alone, there are so many artists,” says Marija Nelson Bleier, the town’s visual arts program coordinator. “People can see who their neighbor artists are and what kind of work they’re doing—and show support for artists in the Bay Area.”

The dogs are vibrant and varied—and often come from unique inspirations. Julia Albo, an artist from Orinda, based her design on a pillowcase her family inherited from her grandparents. “[It’s] about things you might overlook, but then you take a moment and appreciate them,” she says. “That is sort of how it is with life, and it’s a nice message.”

In September, at the end of the show, the Village Theatre and Art Gallery plans to hold a closing ceremony, where all the dogs will be displayed together, then auctioned to raise funds for Danville’s next public art presentation.

“It’s really art for everyone,” Nelson Bleier says. “These dogs are a fun, approachable way to engage people in public art and foster appreciation for art in a non-intimidating way that fits the small-town America feel of Danville.”


Dogs of Danville, Unleashed! is on view May 9 through September 19. danville​.ca.gov.


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