Pamela Hornik is well known to the Argos & Artemis community for her selfies with her dog Teddy, her prolific use of Instagram, and her collection of contemporary dog art from some of the art world’s brightest stars. She and her husband, the venture capitalist David Hornik, are Palo Alto and New York-based collectors and philanthropists known for helping cultivate and define the Bay Area’s tight-knit art community. Fun fact: They discovered textile artist and Argos & Artemis dog parent LJ Roberts through our platform, and began collaborating on shows at Pioneer Works and the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University together. (They’re now super good friends—dogs included.) Pamela is on the director’s advisory board at the Cantor Arts Center, and serves as on the board at Anderson Collection at Stanford University, the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, and the ICA SF. In May 2023, she showcased a selection of her dog collection at her first-ever show, Some Dogs, curated by PJ Gubatina Policarpio, at San Francisco’s Four One Nine studio and gallery.
How did you start working with the curator, PJ Gubatina Policarpio, for this show?
If my memory serves me correctly—and as a 55 year old woman, sometimes I say to myself, I’m not sure if I remember everything correctly—first of all, PJ is involved in the San Francisco art world, which is so small. I met PJ through Instagram, just as you and I connected through Instagram and LJ [Roberts] through Instagram. I think that PJ’s Instagram caught my eye. PJ has a fabulous design eye. I can’t remember if it was Instagram or in person first, but it may have been Instagram that’s solidified my relationship and friendship with PJ. I mean, PJ is much younger than me. I don’t know his age, but I think he’s definitely closer to my kids’ ages. But what caught my eye was his eye, and I could see through his Instagram that we had a shared sense of style when it comes to both fashion. We both are huge fan of Issey Miyake and Pleats Please pants. Through his Instagram, I would always see what was going on in San Francisco. PJ also used to work in New York. He turns out he worked at the Brooklyn Museum and everyone at the Museum loved him.
“Our dogs don’t live forever, which is always the sad thing to think about, and I wanted Teddy to live on forever, and he can live forever in these portraits.”
Is he a dog person?
Yes, he is a dog person as well, but more importantly, he saw a lot of art. My Instagram is curated for me to see the most art. I follow a lot of people, but I follow people who see a lot of art. He’s now an associate director at Micki Meng, a fabulous gallery here in San Francisco.
I wanted someone to tell the story of this being about more than some crazy old dog lady. I needed someone who could tell the story of my collection.
PJ puts up with me. He’s a very gentle soul. I have a lot of anxieties, and I’m a little bit neurotic, and I’m every now and then a little bit of a crazy dog lady, and I would just wanted to make sure that if I was working with someone, that they would be someone I would enjoy working with.
Even the space that we rented. It belongs to a woman named Sonya Yu, who is an art collector and an SFMOMA trustee, Everything about this show has to do with the San Francisco art world.
Why San Francisco over New York, because I know you split your time between these two cities?
I am not part of the New York art world. I mean honestly, I’m just not. I’m part of the San Francisco art world. I sit on a few boards of museums here. It’s a much smaller scene. I’m a nobody in the New York art scene and you can quote me on that.
You’re very quotable. I love the portraits that you’ve commissioned of yourself and Teddy. How do you decide which artists to commission? Do you think of them as self-portraits?
I’m sort of done with that. That was a phase I went through. The narcissistic phase. I actually never say I’m done with anything, because what if an opportunity presents itself with a fabulous artist?
I wanted portraits of Teddy. Our dogs don’t live forever, which is always the sad thing to think about, and I wanted Teddy to live on forever, and he can live forever in these portraits.
One of the first portraits of Teddy which is actually not in the show. It’s a giant piece by Josephine Taylor-Tobin. For the show, one of the pieces in show is an Ania Hobson, and she was the winner of the Young Artist Award at the National Portrait Gallery in London. I don’t know what sparks it. I just think it would be great to have a fabulous artist do a portrait of Teddy, and oh, I guess have me in the portrait, too. I take so many selfies with my dog. A little part of me is embarrassed. There are a few in the show, but I was very mindful not to have the show be a Pamela and Teddy show.
It’s great! You’re supporting artists and getting beautiful immortalized portraits of Teddy.
Teddy is 10 years old now. God willing, he’s a small dog, and he will live a long life, but unfortunately, dogs don’t live as long as we do. It’s like the Queen and her Corgis, right? I come from a long line of peasants and originally, people like the Medicis did portraits with their dogs. Now, you can have anyone who’s willing to pay.
Speaking of artist patrons, you met LJ Roberts through discovery on Argos & Artemis. Tell us about your friendship and working relationship.
LJ has two works in the show. We’re definitely really good friends. We just acquired another one of their works for the Brooklyn Museum. Their work just spoke to me. It felt so personal. I’m not someone who is buying for investment. I’m not looking at art that I’m going to turn around and sell for a profit. I’m not necessarily an intellectual buyer. I usually buy impulsively. When I was on the Argos & Artemis site, I was scrolling and I stopped. I looked at their work and I went, what is this? Who is this artist? I want to know more about them. And that’s how their work spoke to me. We went on to collaborate on a book and the Pioneer Works show. We then brought their show to the Cantor Arts Center [at Stanford University]. We DM all the time!
Let’s talk about some of the pieces in your collection that are in the show. Suchitra Mattai’s, “A Magical Garden” (2023). It’s so beautiful. What spoke to you about that one?
You should look up her work. She painted and embroidered on found objects. I actually have two of her pieces but one is in the show. Most of her work are giant fabric-y textile pieces, so my work is not typical of her work. She’s a fabulous woman and a mother and an incredibly talented artist who is currently having quite a moment in the art world.
Do you know the story of that dog in the portrait?
No, it’s a found object.
Gotcha. Well, let’s talk about someone that we do know which is “Mr Enninful and Ru” by Georgina Gratrix (2020).
So fabulous. And you know, Edward just got a new dog!
Congrats to Ru! How exciting.
First of all, Georgina is one of one of my favorite artists for a variety of reasons. Georgina is an animal advocate. I don’t know if I should call her that, but I’ll go ahead and say she’s an advocate for animals. She lives in South Africa. I believe she was born in Mexico City but lives in South Africa and is always posting about her dogs in her studio with her beautiful dogs. I met her in person in 2020 at the Armory Show. I have a painting of her childhood dog that hung in our living room for a long time. It kept me company through the pandemic. We then hung the painting low to the ground, as a joke, so that Teddy could see it.
Tell us about this beautiful sculpture, “The Sinner at Dusk,” by Susumu Kamijo (2021). I’m looking at Susumu’s Instagram, and there are these gorgeous poodle-like portraits that almost look like flowers.
Yeah, when he started off doing them, they were less abstract. I also have Susumu’s prints in the show. I have drawings of his on my dog wall in New York. That’s another reason why I’m doing this show in California. Most of my friends and my dog art is in California, and I didn’t want to pull apart my dog wall.
Susumu mainly does these poodles, but his current work is way more abstract. I think he didn’t want to be always known as the guy who does the poodles, so his work is evolving. It’s quite beautiful. His work now is almost impossible to acquire. He is in such demand.
We’ve never been able to show this sculpture in our house because we’ve never had the perfect spot for it. Another reason I’m doing the show is so I can bring a lot of these pieces out of storage, finally, to be shown.
PJ and I were trying to figure out the best way to do sculpture because we don’t want people banging into things. You know Katie Kimmel‘s vases?
Yes, of course!
I wanted to show them, but PJ said someone would knock them off. I have a really ridiculous Jeff Koons sculpture I wanted to show, but PJ was worried it would get knocked over, too.
With all these incredible works of dog art, was it hard to choose what to put in the show?
It gives me such anxiety. I feel guilt and sadness over not being able to show everything. That’s why I hired PJ. The artists have to blame PJ because I can’t show everything. There’s only so much room in the gallery. I know there will be a lot of artists that will be disappointed that their pieces aren’t shown. It’s like picking your favorite child.
Why do so many artists see dogs as muses or why do so many of them have studio dogs?
I can’t speak for artists because I’m not an artist, but I would assume that, just as you and I have dogs as companions… It’s the companionship, right? If you’re in a studio for hours, working by yourself. LJ and I have been taking about putting together a book about artists and their studio dogs. That would be my next long-term project.
Images courtesy of the artists and the Hornik Collection