Monday, February 12, 2007

Mr. Winkle is Not a Yorkie, but...

But Mr. Winkle has got to be the cutest dog on Earth,
next to the Yorkie!
In case you have been living under a rock,
and did not know the story...
It was late at night ten years ago,
in an industrial area near Bakersfield,
when Lara Jo Regan had an encounter that was to change her life.
The professional photographer (for Time, Newsweek, Life, etc.)
was on her way home from a photo shoot when she
stopped for coffee, then had trouble finding her
way back to the freeway.
“All of a sudden I saw this little thing hobbling
on the street between the railroad tracks and the road.
I didn’t know if it was a dog or something else.
I was just concerned it would run out in the road and get hurt.
So I pulled over and he kind of hobbled toward me.
He had no collar and no ID, but he did have lots
of little cuts and infections."
It’s understandable Lara didn’t know what he was.
Most people don’t. He weighs a whopping 5 pounds and
stands about 7 inches tall with a body that’s about a foot long.
“My boyfriend at the time was scared of him because he was so odd,”
Lara relates. “Mr. Winkle was like a
little alien that fell to earth,
and he was in such bad shape. I took him to numerous vets to
make sure he was ok and put him through a lot of tests.
It took about a year for him to get real healthy and to develop trust.
Soon I began to realize that he created mania wherever he went,
with crowds gathering around him, wanting to get a closer look.
That’s when I decided to photograph him.”
“I never wanted a dog… I never planned on having a dog.
But he just captivated my heart.
What came first was an aching need of wanting to share him
with the world through my art work.
Some things are put on this planet that are just “other worldly”
and sacred and beautiful, to remind us of what nature can make.
I think those things should be shared with the world.”

“Some people think I’m exploiting Mr. Winkle for the money,
but I find that really offensive because I’ve never
been someone who cared about money.
I’m very dedicated to my documentary and
photography work and my art.
I want to share him because he brings such joy and happiness to
people that I observed even before I started photographing him.
He’s so precious to me, and my “what is Mr. Winkle”
vision was so specific, I didn’t want any interference from
publishers or from the corporate world.
That’s why I decided to do an online business,
because I could control every aspect of it and
protect Mr. Winkle in the process.”
“Like all great comedians,” Lara continues,
“Mr. Winkle has an essential sadness to him because
of his background of abuse and neglect.
He’s the underdog because he’s so different.
But he’s also a product of nature.
As an artist I constantly go to nature for inspiration-
the patterns of leaves and flowers and how they interact-
you can’t make up anything that amazing.
Just like Mr. Winkle.
I call it perfect imperfections.”

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