SALT LAKE CITY -- Mr. Winkle is a little dog with a powerful emotional bite. So cute that he looks unreal, Mr. Winkle can change a bad mood to a good mood with just one look at his picture.
Several pictures of the pooch go on display Friday, July 6, at the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art. "Mr. Winkle: Object of Projection" continues 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, with hours extended until 9 p.m. Fridays, through Oct. 20.
Mr. Winkle was found on the side of a freeway in Bakersfield, Calif., by Lara Jo Regan, a documentary photographer from Los Angeles. Regan recognized the puppy's extreme cute factor, and began taking photos of the dog in a variety of costumes and settings.
A star was born. Regan's images, printed in books and calendars, made Mr. Winkle extremely popular -- and the Internet put him over the top. With more than 40 million hits to mrwinkle.com, the dog was named "Internet Celebrity of the Year" in 2002 by the Time magazine publication On.
Mr. Winkle may be cute, but the exhibit of 60 photos of the dog has a serious side.
"Regan's photographs of Mr. Winkle create an incredible gateway to a wide array of discussions about contemporary culture and aesthetics -- from our tendency to anthropomorphize and project upon animals, to the power of cuteness to destabilize a bad mood, to the finite details of professional photographic compositions," said Micol Hebron, curator at the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art, in a press release.
In addition to the photo exhibit, the museum is screening the film "Big Top Winkle" at 1 p.m. July 7. After the movie, Regan and Hebron present a discussion titled "Strategies of Cute: the many roles of Mr. Winkle as subject, muse, and object of projection." Regan will also be signing copies of her new book, "MR. WINKLE: The Complete Character Collection."
The film will be repeated, without discussion, at 1 p.m. each Saturday through Oct. 20.
Admission to the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art, at 20 S. West Temple, is free.
For more information call 801-328-4201, or visit www.utahmoca.org.