Paige Powell crosses Portland’s Hawthorne Boulevard in pink clam diggers, a tiny tee and a pink jacket. Guiding Powell on a flowered leash is Sherlock. Sherlock, a sixty-four pound shepherd/coonhound mix has a black coat as slick as a seal. Beneath sparkling black eyes Sherlock’s face is long and narrow, culminating in a wide, open-mouthed grin.
Powell moved to New York in her twenties with the goal of working for Andy Warhol. She not only secured work with the art legend, she worked tirelessly to build Interview magazine, earning her place as Warhol’s closest friend. She served as assistant publisher with Interview for thirteen years beside publisher Andy Warhol and stayed with the magazine briefly after he died.
The art community didn’t just befriend her, they treated her like royalty. “She was the most beautiful girl,” says Nick Rhodes of the rock group Duran Duran. Everyone,” says Rhodes, “was in love with her.” But a beast stole her heart. “I never meant for this to happen,” Powell recalls.
While working at Interview, Powell and novelist/friend Tama Janowitz developed a Manhattan Cable Access program called “It’s a Dog’s Life.” The award-winning program helped find homes for dogs, cats and other critters, profiling their lives in half-hour segments.
One segment focused on Mary Evans, a woman who rescued animals. It was through Evans that Powell first met Sherlock and decided to foster the unloved pup. “I randomly said, ‘I’ll take her’”
Initially, Powell thought she was trying to find a home for Sherlock. “But when people would call,” she says, “I’d brush them off. I’d just find reasons why they weren’t right for Sherlock.” It became clear that Sherlock, then 34 pounds covered in fleas, sores and cigarette burns, bones and fur at 34 pounds, had captured her heart. Thus Sherlock had found his watson.
In the mid-nineties, Powell and Sherlock moved to Powell’s home in Portland, Oregon with its fresh air and dog-friendly attitude is one of the best places for a canine. Here, Powell became executive director of The Pearl Arts Foundation, an organization that commissioned international-calibre artists for local public works.
Now thirteen, Sherlock suffers from arthritis, but little else. Sherlock’s veterinarian, who has an M.A. in Reike, gives her holistic care. Sherlock also receives regular acupuncture treatments. “It helps a lot,” Powell says. “She’s much friskier.”
Powell recently finished her tenure with the Pearl Arts Foundation through which she commissioned William Wegman to design and install a combination sculpture/dog water fountain for a Portland park. Now she supports countless animal rights organizations including PETA, Fund for Animals, Art for Animals in New York, The Delta Society, Oregon Feral Cat Coalition, The Great Ape Project, The Predator Defense Institute, In Defense of Animals, Indigo Rescue, any of Doris Day’s organizations and Arkonline, an animal rights e-mail service she founded. Arkonline currently champions a boycott on Proctor and Gamble products that involve animal testing.
Above all, Powell is championing the best of all possible lives for Sherlock.