Saturday, August 23, 2014

meeting William Wegman

I love books, and have a whole collection of quilt books. Another very special part of my book collection is a stack of William Wegman books, inscribed with drawings.

only one of these books is not inscribed
Some of the inscriptions are personal, such as the covered wagon with Oregon on the side. Bill did that one inside My Town when he learned I was moving to Oregon.

Mom goes to church with Bill's sister, Pam, in Rangeley, Maine. Many of his great photos in rustic and natural settings were taken in Rangeley. One of the photo shoots for Little Red Riding Hood was done at my parents' location because there was a small cottage with red shutters, or maybe it was a tool shed. :)

One day I stopped by a photo shoot for The Hardly Boys. A dog was on a tall stool dressed like a gas station attendant, but he would not pay attention to direction. I think it was Chip, and he was sniffing a lot. Bill realized the dog wanted the rotisserie chicken from inside, so someone was immediately sent to get chicken.

As soon as there was chicken involved, the dog perked up for the camera, a large format box camera with the capacity to hold the big Polaroid 20" x 24" prints. There was a truck on site to develop the photos, and several assistants. It was fun to watch.

Bill sometimes did book signings at the local book shop in the summer, and Mom would get books to give me at Christmas. Almost every year for several years.

The first time I met Bill was at Rhode Island School of Design in the 1980s. He was exhibiting in the Benson Hall gallery at RISD, and much of the work was his early Man Ray work. Later, I met him again in Rangeley, at Orgonon of all places.

There was a tag sale every summer at Orgonon, the former home and laboratory of the infamous Wilhelm Reich. Bill was looking for props and clothing to dress up the dogs for photos. I have always enjoyed his quirky sense of humor. If you look through his books, you are likely to see items he bought at the Orgonon tag sale.

We knew Bill before he had the gig with Sesame Street, which introduced the dogs to a very broad audience. Every so often there would be a litter, a new generation of dogs. From Man Ray to Fay, to Battina, Crooky, Chundo and Chip. The dogs were all a riot, very smart, a little sneaky, and extremely photogenic.

Bill has done very well, and the dogs have always been treated like royalty. At Rangeley Lake, they would run around, off the end of the dock to fetch whatever was tossed in the lake. They were good swimmers and loved the water. I enjoy having so many of these books with the great drawings to remember meeting William Wegman and his famous Weimaraners. 


  1. Fantastic!! Thanks for sharing

  2. I have quite a few of his books. I used to have Weimaraners and showed them and raised a litter. You are right about their personalities. They keep you on your toes. Always getting into something.

  3. What a great collection you have, and love the personal memory of the shoot with the motivation of carrot, or chicken in this case. I've always liked both his more serious thoughtful yet humorous photo compositions and his very whimsical hand drawn art. Through it all you always feel a sense of his live and appreciation for dogs.