The Equus africanus asinus has gotten a bad rep. Think about its common name plus the words hole, muncher or face.

Still, it was donkey that is said carried both Mary and Sancho Panza. They've also been BFFs to Gumby, Shrek and Winnie the Pooh. Currently, real-life donkeys can be seen everywhere in prominent roles—from beekeepers' assistants in Brazil to high school basketball games in Sylvania, Ohio (the jury is still out on that one) and there's no denying the consummate sidekick is now moving to the center stage.

Further proving the point, artist Jo Sherwood unveils The Best of Burros, an all-donkey-all-the-time art exhibit this Friday at Santa Fe Art Collector Gallery.

"My focus on painting burros came from the many travels I did with my late husband Peter, who passed away last year," the Holland native tells SFR. "The burro was always a part of our traveling to developing countries where I set up my easel to paint in oil—an [integral part] of cultures that are disappearing because of our globalization."

Eighteen works strong, the pieces depict animals she encountered in a dozen different countries, like one such specimen from Greece, pictured left.

"The burro is a most humble animal that carries men's cargo anywhere possible," Sherwood says about her muse. "They're also adorable to look at with those big eyes and lasting endurance."

The exhibit, she says, is meant to be a love letter to her late husband, who was responsible for her travel arrangements and trustfully carried her easel around.

As far as her subject matter, Sherwood points out, no two are the same.

"It's like with people," she says, "they each show independent personalities and interesting characters."

The Best of Burros
5-8 pm Friday, May 9
SF Art Collector Gallery
217 Galisteo St.,