On an icy December evening in Princeton, New Jersey, Virginia Harbin of Labyrinth Books welcomed Patrick to talk about his new book The Art of Nothing in front of a fantastic audience.

In preparation, Labyrinth decorated their store window with a MUTTS Gift of Nothing theme. At the event, Virginia gave a beautiful introduction (which she has allowed us to reproduce here), and Heather Achenbach from SAVE, A Friend to Homeless Animals joined Patrick on stage to discuss the adorable personalities and good looks of some of the adoptable pets at the SAVE shelter.

Patrick also drew several MUTTS characters on a large, flip-chart drawing pad based on suggestions from the audience, with proceeds from “purchased” artwork benefitting the animal shelter. After the festivities, Patrick signed books and everyone enjoyed refreshments.

On behalf of Patrick and the rest of Team MUTTS, we extend our gratitude to Virginia and Labyrinth for a wonderful event.

Below is Virginia’s lovely introduction. Please enjoy.

Welcome friends, to our final event this season at Labyrinth. We are all so happy to have Patrick McDonald here to celebrate The Art of Nothing. We also want to welcome Heather Achenbach who runs SAVE, A Friend to Homeless Animals. We were honored to have Patrick’s painting in our holiday window and to devote the side panel of the window to honor his work with animal shelters.

If we’re to be honest, this is a dark part of the season. It’s hard to feel hopeful. It’s not even reasonable to feel joy.

But one thing art does for us is to keep a light on, to keep things warm. To remind us of soulful light-filled colors, of clownish spirits, of loyalty and devotion, of secret lives and tender personalities, of our dearest friends.

We feel so loved by the work of Patrick McDonnell. For much of my life there were newspapers every day (mine was the Philadelphia Bulletin) with two pages daily and a Sunday supplement of color comics. Patrick has said that Snoopy was kind of his first dog. Earl and Mooch became my dog and cat too, when they became part of those pages.

This wonderful new book — and I mean, for whom is this the wrong holiday gift? — celebrates the world of MUTTS, its soulful, jazzy confident lines that spring from a lively imagination, and realized with a disciplined hand. MUTTS is a kind of paradise of the ordinary: outside of time, but full of feeling for the seasons, the goofy, foibled world of dogs and cats, people, birds, shellfish and crabs — their comforts and hopeful appetites, their quiet thoughts, their small conversations, their mischief and their prayers, and sometimes their blue-streak curses. They have human attendants full of surprise and befuddlement — as well as deep contentment at their being. Their being is everything.

But they are also hilariously clever puppets in the daily drama of making a daily drama. And there’s where all of art history comes in, from Raphael to Munch to Basquiat to Robert Crum’s album covers, (so many wonderful album covers!) the mutts are all over history, refreshing it, clowning in it, bringing it back to life and on a deadline.

I have to end here but I want to find a way to say also that the more I learn about Patrick and his partner Karen O’Connell, the more I am delighted. They are our neighbors in town, good friends of the animal shelter, and he is a remarkably successful and celebrated artist.

We’re so glad he’s here tonight. Please welcome Patrick McDonnell.

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