A Girl's Best Friend

Visual artist captures the joie de vivre of our community’s beloved pets.

Cuban coffee, her cat Faela, and platform shoes. 

These are a few of Alexia Barreiro’s favorite things. As a local artist, muralist and graphic designer Barreiro doesn’t shy away from saturated colors and bold concepts. This can also be seen in her effortlessly original style that blends skater, urban, chic and chill all into one unapologetic form.

Lately, she is busy producing large-scale murals for both local breweries and fashion boutiques as well as custom branding and design for her list of clients. Her “DIY mindset” is what sets her apart in the creative industry and is what led to the growing success of her latest creative undertaking. Enter, pet portraits. 

During COVID-19 is when the artist really saw a demand for this style of work, and although she was surprised at the spike in sales, she understands why people want to memorialize their fur-babies in this unconventional format. Many customers are also placing orders as gifts for friends and family, quite a sentimental gesture during these difficult times.

“Pets are like people, they all have distinct personalities and I want to make sure I capture this the best I can,” shares Barreiro.

Her portraits begin as sketches, then develop from graphite to ink to portray her wide-eyed, quirky, shaggy (and totally-lovable) subjects that she executes with whimsy ...and startling accuracy.

“I ask for multiple photos for reference and from there I am able to grasp an idea of the pose and expression that best fits their personality,” she says.

“Each portrait includes a time-lapse video of the process, which I love giving to my clients so they can get a glimpse of how the drawing came to be.”

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Locals Share their Iconic Puppy Portraits

1. Jeff and Tiffany Deutsch are the owners of Denver’s Artisan Rug Gallery (, leading the Colorado rug market with their luxurious and international pieces. Their passion in the industry has led them to great success, but when they aren’t occupied with meeting their clients’ needs, they are fully present with their adopted dogs, Calvin and Ducky.

“Calvin, the big guy, is obviously just a real looker with those shocking blue eyes. We get stopped every time we take him anywhere. We got him from Colorado Puppy Rescue nine years ago,” Tiffany says.

They say he is the happiest when he is hiking off-leash in Crested Butte, where they spent 25 years before moving to Denver.

“Ducky is 8 months old. We adopted him during quarantine in early May. He was picked up in a shelter in New Mexico and brought to Colorado. He could not be any sweeter and loves, loves, loves all people and dogs!” Tiffany says.

2. Stuart and Caitlin Crowell, two entrepreneurs in Denver, have the most lovable little fur-child named Denali.

“Denali is not your typical Frenchie: He is fit and full of energy,” the Crowells say. “He loves to fetch with his tennis balls, enjoys taking naps in the sun, and loves to go for hikes when the weather is cool enough for him.” Even despite a life-threatening liver condition, the 4-year-old pup stays healthy with a special diet that has him feeling as young as ever. His big personality keep the family laughing and smiling at his many hilarious personality quirks. 

3. Liz Vehko is one of the owners at Shaver-Ramsey Fine and Custom Rugs ( located in Cherry Creek North. The business has been in operation for 44 years and sells one-of-a-kind hand-woven rugs, textiles and kilims. Vehko’s sweet pup, named Bremo Freckles Vehko, is a furry piece of art in his own right.

“It’s pretty obvious how he got the name Freckles, because of all of his black spots. But what makes him so special to us is how much he loves our two kids. He is protective of them. He sends them off to school in the morning, snuggles with them before bed, and loves to play fetch in our back yard,” Vehko says.

4. Josh Behr is a Denver native and real estate broker who has been working with Sotheby’s Realty for the past 12 years ( When not in the office, he is spending time with his beautiful family, including his wife and their two kids as well as their beloved English Black Lab, Byron. The 4-year-old dog is always by their side, exploring Colorado’s rivers and lakes while fly fishing and bow hunting.

“Byron is the consummate fishing buddy and can be found tagging along with me. But an athlete Byron is not; however, when it comes to sitting on the fishing raft, there is no better companion,” Behr shares.

Byron is a certified chiller, relaxing just as hard as he plays.

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