NASHUA -- Lowell native Kathryn Swenson-Gulliotti has attended New York's Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show twice before. But this year when she attends, her artwork will be featured in a commemorative poster for the show.
Swenson-Gulliotti entered the her art, titled "Vibrant City Stroll," as part of the New York Academy of Art's annual contest. She graduated from NYAA with her master's of fine arts in 2008. She was eight months pregnant with twins when she heard of NYAA's call for entries, and did not hesitate to get to work.
"I was excited," Swenson-Gulliotti said. "Being as pregnant as I was making the artwork, it was definitely more strenuous than when I'd been painting before."
She had entered her work in the contest before, but this is her first win.
The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show began in 1877 and is one of largest dog shows in the country. This year's dog show will run from Monday, Feb. 13 to Tuesday, Feb. 14. Swenson-Gulliotti's artwork will be sold as posters and note cards to benefit the AKC Humane Fund. It will appear on the official program for the dog show, which is also for sale. The AKC Humane Fund will receive the original artwork, in addition to at least $10,000 in the form of a check. The Westminster Kennel Club is a member organization of the AKC Humane Fund, which is "committed to supporting the health and happiness of dogs across the nation," according to its website.
Swenson-Gulliotti worked 12-hour days for four solid days on her watercolor and graphite piece.
Now, she lives in Nashua, New Hampshire, and works as an adjunct professor at the New Hampshire Institute of Art. She also studied painting and art history at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design.
Swenson-Gulliotti graduated from Lowell High in 2001 and has not forgotten the art teachers there who were encouraging of her talent.
Betty Santagati was an art teacher and administrator for 37 years and previously worked at LHS before retiring in 2010.
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"What I most loved about being in the classroom was meeting students that were more talented than I. I learned so much from those kids than I ever taught them," Santagati said. "She was a standout from the first minute I saw her work. I said, 'This girl just has it.'"
Santagati said Swenson-Gulliotti had to be one of her top three students she ever taught. She recalled Swenson-Gulliotti having a great sense of color from the beginning and an incredible work ethic.
"She was also a role model to the other kids," Santagati said. "She would be so intensely focused on her work and eager, eager, eager to learn more."
And on top of Swenson-Gulliotti's passion for art, she has a soft spot for dogs. She helped to raise her parents' yellow Lab named Pearl and her grandmother raised miniature poodles. Right now, having 4-month old twin boys and another 3-year-old son, owning a dog would be a little too much to handle. But Swenson-Gulliotti said she likes so many breeds, she couldn't choose a favorite.
"I'm really looking forward to seeing all the dogs," she said. "We've gone in the past and it's really such a unique thing. When they all get lined up to go out to show, it's pretty cool."
To purchase the poster, visit www.westminsterkennelclub.org/about-sensation/shop.
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