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Sly dog portrait is the people’s choice

Annie Schweiger smiles next to her painting "The Winston." Her painting received the "People's Choice Award" at the Duluth Art Institute Members Exhibition at the opening reception on Jan. 26. (Photo submitted)

Sometimes inspiration strikes in unusual places.

For HTK marketing graphic designer Annie Schweiger, inspiration struck in the form of her co-worker’s dog, a long-haired Chihuahua named Winston.

“It was my co-worker Mike Scholtz’s dog. He has three dogs and Winston’s one of the dogs that he brings in almost every day. And I just really wanted to paint his dog, because he’s one of my favorites in the office. So I just did it as a fun weekend project,” Schweiger said.

Schweiger entered her renaissance style portrait, “The Winston,” in the Duluth Art Institute’s “Annual Membership Exhibition.” This year, the People’s Choice Award, which recognizes the audience’s favorite work out of more than 175 pieces on view, went to Schweiger’s acrylic-on-canvas painting. Schweiger called the win “an unexpected but pleasant surprise.”

“I’m so excited Annie Schweiger was recognized by her peers,” said Anne Dugan, executive and artistic director of the DAI. “She is a wonderful example of Duluth’s rich pool of talent and a great success story of how artists who are just starting out can make a path for themselves in our region.”

Schweiger hails from Anoka and moved to Duluth as a transfer student to attend the University of Minnesota Duluth. She majored in graphic design and minored in studio art. Shortly after graduation she was hired by HTK Marketing as a graphic designer. She continues to work as a prolific fine artist in her free time.

“I think it took maybe two days to paint this one. It was just over a weekend when I had nothing else to do, so I was a hermit in my apartment for the two days,” Schweiger said.

The painting was based off a photo taken of Winston from a mini photo shoot. The pet portrait captures the dog’s sly glance and features the animal formally attired in a crimson beret with gold trim, a starched ruff and a jacket. The whimsy of the scene is countered by the photorealistic skill of the depiction and a subdued color palette.

It was Schweiger’s first time entering the exhibition since she’d only recently joined the DAI.

“But I think I’ll joint every year now and get a little more involved in the art community,” Schweiger said. “It was really cool to see the whole community come out for that event and see all the different artwork people make.”

Schweiger might have some more painting work to do.

“At the exhibition, some people were asking about dog portraits, so I might have to paint a few more. I really like dogs in general, so it’s OK,” Schweiger said.

See more of Schweiger’s work by following her on Instagram, @Koreanne or visiting her website, She is available for commissioned work.

The “2017 Annual Membership Exhibition” is on view through Feb. 24.

Teri Cadeau

Teri Cadeau is a reporter for the Budgeteer.

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