In his later life, Sparkey has become somewhat of an artist, specifically an action painter. As he walks along the street, Sparks likes to let his urine flow without hindrance, sketching very idiosyncratic patterns on the hot macadam. Even in the summer heat, I've been surprised how long some of these installations last, and it's always interesting to watch them slowly fade and change over time.
Now, there actually is historical and artistic precedent for working with urine, namely the famous and controversial photograph of a crucifix immersed in urine by Andre Serrano. While opponents of the National Endowment for the Arts took up arms against this form of expression, Sparkey has no fears of reprisal or condemnation, especially since his works are both ephemeral and unsubsidized by the federal government.
Apropos of action painting, one could draw some parallels between Sparkey's voided expressions and the 20th century work of Jackson Pollock, who pioneered the drippy and torturous painting style that shook the art world in the 1950s. One could also draw parallels to Chinese calligraphy, as well as modern urban grafitti, not to mention the exuberant Abstract Expressionism of Robert Motherwell, one of my favorite painters of all time.
However, even with parallels between Sparkey's work and that of Andre Serrano, Motherwell, and Pollock, I find even more of a creative relationship between Sparks and that contemporary master of ephemeral and temporary art created in nature, Andy Goldsworthy. Andy does such temporary works such as "Rain Shadows", laying in a field during a rainstorm and allowing the rain to form an image of his body on the earth, and sculpting with flowers and other natural materials. (By the way, I highly recommend a relatively recent documentary of his artistic process, Rivers and Tides, now on DVD.)
I'm sure neither Andy Goldsworthy nor Mr. Serrano would mind being creatively compared to a dog, especially a dog of such noble stature and loving demeanor. I especially think Mr. Goldsworthy would have a cosmic chuckle over how a dog with no expensive art-school training creates such singular images.
Here's to yet another manifestation of Sparkey's latter day brilliance. Gotta love that dog.