For artist, illustrator and Ruby Lane shop owner Denny Plesea, a chance meeting in an ice rink in the 1970s proved to be a fortuitous moment.
Plesea met the famed cartoonist Charles M. Schultz who is best known for his iconic comic strip Peanuts and the creation of the characters Snoopy and Charlie Brown. The influential illustrator drew a signed picture of America’s favorite dog Snoopy on the white tablecloth, a gift Plesea cherishes to this day. “I have always loved Snoopy and his personality and he reminded me of my (late) dog Scooter. I like that attitude of a dog running Charlie Brown’s life!”
Decades have passed since meeting his idol and Plesea’s love of drawing — and dogs — remains a constant. His passion for animals and love of art-turned-storytelling were the genesis of the whimsical drawings of his one-and-a-half-year-old Maltese named Cody that he shares with husband and Ruby Lane founder Thomas Johnson. The adventures of the personable dog and her fictitious mother “Meg” is illustrated through a variety of stories and illustrations told from a dog’s point of view. “Cody’s mom is a young female who just moved out of her parent’s house is on the hunt for things in her New York City apartment and shops at Ruby Lane,” says Plesea.
As a result, little Cody has become a brand ambassador and the face of the Ruby Lane community, spawning an interactive campaign has received a huge response from shop owners and shoppers alike who are invited to share photos of their pets through a series of contests and #CodysCircleofFriends. The campaign #CuratedbyCody increases social engagement while showcasing unique vintage treasures on Ruby Lane. “Cody loves to visit dealers and we find the campaign is creating a buzz. It’s a common interest for people on Ruby Lane and another way they can get involved,” notes Plesea. Future plans include equal time for Cody’s favorite feline friends and perhaps the expansion of the illustrations into a children’s book.
The Ohio native’s roots in fine art began at an early age. “My mother gave me a big roll of shelf paper one summer and encouraged me to draw,” he says. He eventually utilized his studies in art history, painting, and printmaking and became both a teacher and an artist. Influenced by the work of artists Paul Klee, Kandinsky, Jean Miro and Pablo Picasso, his work today is a mélange of the follies and foibles of everyday life. “I draw the way I feel that day or if I had a dream that night.”
From the whimsical watercolor “Eggs at My Grandmother’s House” to the thought- provoking “Honeymoon,” audiences have enjoyed Plesea’s mix of monoprints and lithographs and etchings and watercolors from Naples to San Francisco. Here are a few of our favorite limited editions from the Denny Plesea Art Gallery:
Eggs at My Grandmother’s House
City On the Bay
Bovine In Pink
Ballet On Lilac
A Dream One Night
Title image is Coyote Madness .
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