Meet Rachel Kremidas, a 29-year old painter with strong feminist tendencies from Indianapolis, IN who’s lived in Bed-Stuy for the past six years. And meet Rachel’s dog, Hot Sauce, a two year-old pitbull mix named in homage to Beyonce’s “Formation.”
The duo was brought together by fate when friends of Kremidas happened upon the dog while out for their own dog walk this past summer. The dog had no tags or chaps, so Kremidas offered to temporarily house the pup until they could track down his owner. After a few weeks and no leads of ownership, it was decided that together these two would stay, for not only had Kremidas found a new furry friend for life, but she had also found her latest inspiration for a new artistic subject: pet portraits.
Yes, Kremidas’ Brooklyn Pet Portraits is looking to bring your beloved pet to life on canvas. With 12-15 oil paintings of pets immortalized so far, Kremidas describes painting pets as “the equivalent to mental candy,” and hopes that’s down the road she’ll have enough portraits to hold a show as a fundraiser for local animal shelters.
“I’ve always been a big pet lover and just animal lover,” Kremidas told Brokelyn. “Initially, at some point this summer I had some sort of creative block in my painting, so I thought, you know what I’m gonna do just as a mental cleanser? I’m gonna solicit my friends for their favorite pet portraits and then just paint their animals.”
Kremidas released the hounds (read: asked) for friends to send her their favorite photos of their own animal companions. Soon, what off as side project-turned-passion project to get through a bout of creative block had since become something that people were willing to pay good money for: Kremidas now does these portraits on commission, ranging in cost anywhere from $80-$120 (taking into consideration materials, size and time).
We live in a city where people cherish their pets more than their own children. I’d kill to have my Jack Russel Terrier Penny here with me in Brooklyn, but sadly I’m at a point in my life where my apartment is too small and my lifestyle is largely too all over the place. She’s also old as dirt, having been in my family for a decade, and a super spaz.
But thanks to Kremidas, now I can have her here with me in spirit, commemorated as art and hung in my bedroom. Hold the dog smell!
Having accomplished some weird commissions in the past — including painting what she described as a “creepy frog king” in college — this is something Kremidas deemed more normal and easy going.
“If this is something that can take off and I’m able to sustain a living from it, that would be obviously ideal,” she said. “But it’s mostly just fun to do. Because I like animals, it’s actually just fun to look at them for a period of time. I look at my this little fart (referring to Hot Sauce) all the time.”
While it’s currently raining cats and dogs portraits at her studio space in Bed-Stuy — there are even talks of doing a portrait of someone’s pet chameleon, hell yeah — the pets aren’t Kremidas’ only focus at the moment. The rest of her portfolio has a much harder and staunchly feminist edge.
“I read Moby Dick last fall for the second time and there’s this chapter titled ‘Stubb’s Supper’ where the chef of the Pequod gives this kind of ridiculous sermon to a swarm of sharks about ‘being wary of their voracious nature.’ It’s hilarious, but there’s also some truth to just how everyone approaches this idea [of ‘veracious’ and ‘voracious’] in their nature. And I kind of put my militant feminist twist on that by turning a series of sharks into vaginas.”
While she wouldn’t necessarily say that vaginas are ‘voracious by nature,’ Kremidas’ combination of the imagery is her own spin on the shark sermon regarding the notion of being true to, and empowered by, one’s own nature. Though powerful imagery inspired by this Moby Dick sermon, Kremidas aims to dissolve the stigma that lady parts should be viewed in their “victim” form, promoting them instead as a natural, powerful force.
“When I see the way men react to these paintings versus women, because the art world is so male dominated, they respond much differently. Where they’re not sure if they should laugh, or if they do laugh it’s very nervously.”
With Hot Sauce by her side and feminist tendencies ever at her back, Kremidas is taking on the world, along with new pet subjects! Email Kremidas at brooklynpetportraits[at]gmail.com for portrait inquiries, and be sure to check out her website for more of her work and to follow her on Instagram for more pet portraits and projects.
Kremidas’ entrepreneurship even in the midst of creative blocks sets an example for all of us Brooklyn artists. To be always, as in the words of Fleece, “by natur wery woracious.”
For more pet talk, follow @HavingHope14 on Twitter