Oscar DeLouse is an artist, a sculptor who usually works in bronze. His subjects are always dogs. He loves dogs and surrounds himself with them. Oscar always has at least eight dogs around. The dogs have free reign of his home, his studio, and indeed the grounds of his entire Connecticut estate.
In fact, you are probably familiar with Oscar’s work. He did the “Sorrowful Basset” piece displayed in the lobby of the Animal Rescue Headquarters in Millbrook. His “Lassie” was commissioned by Galaxy Studios. It’s the massive piece that greets visitors as they arrive at the company’s theme park in Orlando. He did “Bullet” at the Cowboy Bob museum and “Ben Din Din” in Omaha. His most famous one is without a doubt “Weiner Dog with Beret” that stands outside the Musee in Paris. Indeed, Oscar is a prolific sculptor who has garnered quite a reputation for his mastery of public art.
Oscar has a bid in with another major motion picture studio to produce one hundred individual pieces. They will be those spotted, firehouse dogs and the studio wants mainly puppies. Apparently, this studio made a relatively successful film about these kinds of dogs a few years back and they want to capitalize on that. Some of the pieces will be life sized and others scaled up between 2 and 10 times. The intention is to scatter them throughout the grounds of their major campus, in Burbank so that no matter where one goes a spotted firehouse dog will be visible frolicking and playing on the grounds. It’s in keeping with the “happy-time” vibe that the studio has going and it will be by far the most ambitious project that Oscar has ever undertaken.
Oscar thought it would be a slam dunk, rubber-stamp approval process. That it just had to be signed off by management. That his mastery of the canine form, coupled with the film studio’s famous pack of firehouse dogs, would guarantee him the commission. He recently received some disturbing news that has him concerned.
Myra Octenpepper is a sculptor from Oregon. Myra also focuses on art for the non-private sector, that is “Municipal Art” or public art. She also specializes in animal likenesses although she is a hamster fancier and prefers to portray those cuddly little creatures. Oscar has seen Myra’s work in Oklahoma City, Seattle, and Bogotá. He will not underestimate her skill and talent. Myra is a true competitor and probably as close to a nemesis as Oscar will ever know.
He found out that she is bidding for the same multiple piece commission in Burbank. At first he thought she was changing her focus to dogs but that has turned out not to be the case. It seems that this studio has made a small number of short films starring chipmunks that performed quite well at the box office. Myra’s contention, which seems to have snagged the attention of the studio executives, is that a chipmunk looks remarkably like a hamster; modifications need only be made to the tail and the markings. Voilà your hamster becomes a chipmunk!
Myra’s argument, set forth quite eloquently in her proposal to the studio, is that chipmunks are far cuter than dogs and choosing to go with her work, as opposed to firehouse dogs, would open new marketing and merchandising opportunities that the dogs simply would not. The dogs, she contended, are already saturating the company stores where the chipmunks are less known to the public. Why not, she asks, exploit these new opportunities as the studio is already committed to the public sector art project. The smart marketer would leverage this opportunity in a heartbeat.
Oscar was aware of her bid proposal because his source, inside the studio, had provided him with a copy of the competitive bid. As much as he hated to admit it, her argument made sense and Oscar was worried. There was a lot of money and notoriety at stake here.
As he read through it the second time he began to feel ill, gripped by stomach cramps, nausea, and diarrhea, he had to stop numerous times and make a beeline to the toilet.
As he read through it the third time he began to formulate arguments to counter her proposal. While it was true that chipmunks were cute little animals, hamsters were not. They didn’t remotely resemble chipmunks. Weren’t hamsters originally bred for food, and eaten by indigenous people in South America? Was that why her work was displayed in Bogotá? Or, maybe that was Guinea Pigs that were bred for food? He couldn’t remember and it didn’t really matter anyway. He only had to raise the subject for it to be effective. Facts had no bearing on his argument. He made a note to himself to research this and he called his assistant, Ben, asking him to find out right away. Then he asked Ben to book first class tickets to Burbank. He wanted to depart first thing in the morning in order to make his case to the studio.
“Oh, and Ben,” he added, “If it turns out that hamsters were bred as food get me a good recipe for hamster crepes. It might help sway any of the nay-sayers in the executive ranks at the studio if they wrap their lips around a savoury piece of grilled hamster in a cream sauce with capers.”
Oscar was beginning to feel better already.