Westminster Winner

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Vegas native hits canine gold in N.Y.

By Mercy Lopez

Former Las Vegas resident Amber Sena is getting national exposure after winning the 2011 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Art Competition.


Now a resident of Brooklyn, Sena created the winning art that was featured at the 135-year-old competition held last month. The charcoal and pastel piece is titled “Canon of Canine.”

“I’m just a small-town girl from Vegas who happened to have something exciting happen recently,” said Sena, a graduate of New Mexico Highlands University and Robertson High School.

Westminster Dog Show is equivalent to the NFL’s Super Bowl. Sena’s award-winning creation appeared on the show’s poster, show guide and other merchandise that was available for the nationally televised event from Madison Square Garden in New York City. About 2,500 canines competed at this year’s show, with the best of show going to a Scottish Deerhound, “GCH Foxcliffe Hickory Wind” a.k.a. “Hickory.”

“The poster, unique from previous posters, created a huge buzz,” Sena said. “The experience of going to Westminster was awesome.”

Sena appeared on national television and in the New York Post. She also signed the posters at the event.

Sena’s poster features 12 breeds of dogs ranging from a pug to a Scottish terrier. She said each dog portrait took from two to six hours to draw. The most difficult breed to draw was the border terrier and the easiest was the komondor, Sena said. Her entry was the only one submitted that was drawn. The others were paintings.

She said she was in shock when she was notified that her art had been selected for the official poster.

“I just did it because I was curious about drawing dogs,” Sena said.

Proceeds from Sena’s poster benefit the Animal Medical Center in New York City.
Since winning the competition, Sena, an art instructor at the New York Academy of Art, has been commissioned by pet owners to draw their beloved furry family members.

“The bad thing (is that it) has taken me away from my other artwork,” Sena said. “But, I welcome it with opens arms.”

Sena, 30, is the daughter of Joe and Debra Sena of Las Vegas. Before her move to the east coast in 2007, she was an art director at the now- closed Rancho Valmora High School.

Sena’s move to the Big Apple opened many doors for her. She received a scholarship to pursue her master’s degree at the New York Academy of Art. While there she met a stone sculptor from Germany, Peter Müehlhaeusser. The two were married in 2009.

“I have been doing art all my life,” Sena said during a recent telephone interview. “Art is something that I have always been really into.”