"Roxie," a dog mask by Barbara Fletcher
"Roxie," a dog mask by Barbara Fletcher

A little puppy love is the cat's meow to help ease the winter blues.

Canine and feline fans get a heaping helping of animal affection in "I Heart Cats and Dogs" from through Feb. 25 at the Loading Dock Gallery at Western Avenue Studios, 122 Western Ave., Lowell. The opening reception is Saturday, Feb. 3, from 5-7 p.m.

Cool cats and dashing dogs will steal your heart in "I Heart Cats and Dogs," a showcase of inventive interpretations from the artists of the Western Avenue Studios Artists Association and other favorite gallery artists.

Adopt a virtual pet (or two) at "I Heart Cats and Dogs" and you will help to support local animals in need -- the Lowell Humane Society will receive a portion of the proceeds from the show.

A cat sculpture by Kat Dubose
A cat sculpture by Kat Dubose

All manner of canines and felines are featured in this show. From the playful character of a Barbara Fletcher retriever to the quiet contemplation of a Denise Rainis tabby, the show highlights the love, devotion, personality and mystery that cats and dogs offer their humans each day.

Paintings, drawings, sculptures, fiber works and more have turned the gallery into a clowder of cats and kennel of dogs. They're all artistic, well-behaved and low-maintenance. Whether a cuddly calico or a daring Dachshund, February's festival of beasts is sure to melt your heart. Join the pack and pad on over to " I Heart Cats and Dogs." You're bound to fall in love.


Sedrick Huckaby’s monumental portrait of his cousin ’Enocio’ in MFA exhibit
Sedrick Huckaby's monumental portrait of his cousin 'Enocio' in MFA exhibit

The Loading Dock Gallery, a part of Loading Dock Arts Inc., a 501c3, is open Wednesday-Saturday, noon-5:30 p.m., and Sunday, noon-4 p.m. For more information, call 978-596-1576 or visit www.theloadingdockgallery.com.

Nancye Tuttle's email address is nancyedt@verizon.net.

Art picks

LEARN TO PAINT: Picking up a brush and dabbling in the fine art of painting is another way to beat the blahs. And well-known local artist Claire Gagnon offers you the chance to do that in her "Initiation to Painting" class at the Brush Art Gallery, 256 Market St., Lowell, on Saturday, March 10, from 1-3 p.m. Geared to adults, with no experience painting required, the class costs $20, and all supplies will be provided. To register and pay online, visit www.thebrush.org. To pay by check, pre-register by emailing Jim Dyment at brushdirector@gmail.com and mail your check to him at the address above. Gagnon hopes to hold more classes at the Brush. For info, email her at clairegagnonart@gmail.com.

INSIGHTFUL INSTALLATION: Boston's Museum of Fine Arts preserves legacies that might have been ignored in the new installation "Monuments to Us." Drawn mainly from the MFA's contemporary collection and on view through April 8, the paintings speak to the lives and experiences of individuals and groups whose stories are often excluded. These include people of color, women and girls, members of the LGBTQ and immigrant communities. Much like "monuments" in the more traditional sense, the works here ascribe value to their subjects -- not war heroes, politicians or superstars, but neighbors, cousins, colleagues and friends. Artist Sedrick Huckaby's "Enocio," a massive portrait of his cousin, is monumental in scope. Huckaby, who often paints his family members, says: "They're important enough to make a monument out of them." The exhibit serves as a reminder that artists make history by amending and expanding it. Visit www.mfa.org for info.

ICONIC DAYS AND NIGHTS: The Museum of Russian Icons in Clinton offers interesting winter escapes in February. Get free admission on Feb. 1 after 4 p.m., and take part in a free Russkie Posidelki (discussion on culture) at 6 p.m. On Sunday, Feb. 4, 1-2 p.m., enjoy a gallery tour -- Gordon Lankton's Hidden Gem -- that explains how Lankton assembled his collection and turned it into a museum. On Tuesday, Feb. 6, 1-2 p.m., enjoy a tea-room talk with one of the docents, who will explain the importance of samovars in Russian culture. Tea and sweets served. An array of other talks, films and exhibit openings fill the February calendar. Visit www.museumofrussianicons.org for details.