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When It Comes to Cat Art, Are You a Snob Like I Am?

With so much beautiful feline art and sculpture in the world, why does anybody need tacky miniatures and Holly Hobbie paintings?

 |  Jun 19th 2013  |   2 Contributions


I love cats. I love art. I love art that features cats.

Well, some art that features cats, anyway.

I just can’t get down with the Thomas Kincade, Painter Of Light™ (seriously, he has a trademark on the phrase) school of “art.” I don’t like flowery paintings of cute kittens who look like they belong on greeting cards rather than on a wall. And don’t even get me started on those ridiculously fugly cat miniatures you see in full-page ads in your favorite cat magazine.

... And it has real faux-gemstones? Really? Wow -- send me a dozen!

I’ve never cared much for folk art, either, although I believe that folk art is a legitimate school of painting and drawing, and it definitely has its place. That place isn’t on my walls, but I do appreciate folk art for what it is. If I had to choose between folk art and still-life works of kittens playing in baskets of flowers, I’d definitely choose folk art any day.

“So, what kind of art does her punk-rock majesty like?” you might ask.

My tastes are pretty diverse, actually. First of all, I love classic Japanese and Chinese art featuring cats. If I could have a wall full of prints like the ones below, I’d be all over it in a greased second.

I also love to collect original art. I’m particularly fond of any artworks that capture not just the anatomy of the cat but the cat’s spirit as well. This medieval-style cat illustration was made by artist and children’s book author Isabelle Brent. It’s hard to tell from this photo (I never said I was a champion art photographer), but there’s some very fine gold leaf details.

Medieval-style cat illustration by Isabelle Brent

This linoleum block print, Oliver, by Holly Meade, is one of my favorite pieces. It’s also No. 15 of a 15-print edition.

Holly Meade, "Oliver," linoleum and block print, 2007.

I have a bunch of other cat art -- and non-cat art, too.

“Well, Miss Prissy-Pants, it sure must be nice to be able to afford all that art work,” you’re probably saying.

I’m not made of money, but I’ve found some really cool pieces for really good prices at benefit silent auctions. Often, the minimum bid is pretty low. I make the rounds a few times over the course of the auction and, like any good eBay vulture, I swoop in at the last minute and see if the bidding is still at a level I can afford. If it is, I outbid the highest bidder. Ta-da! High-quality original art is mine! That’s how I scored the Holly Meade print.

I learned how to go auction-shopping from my mother, who is herself an artist and art collector. She's built a pretty nice little collection this way. She’s not as much of a sniper as I am, though.

I also love some good old-fashioned retro kitsch, and I’ve got plenty of it in my home. I’ve got Egyptian cat statue replicas that I found at TJ Maxx, a ceramic maneki neko I bought at an Asian market in Seattle, a whimsical kitty made by an artist in my old home town, a faux-Hopi Indian miniature cat statue, a piece I bought through the Teal Cat Project, a black cat bobblehead, and a giant maneki neko piggy bank (because you can never have too many good-luck cats).

“But JaneA, kitsch is silly and usually kind of ugly,” you might say. “How can you possibly justify liking bobbleheads and Catnip Freakout T-shirts that look like B-movie posters from the 1950s, while still saying that Bungford Mint Exchange Limited Edition Tiffany-replica cats with real faux gemstones aren’t art?”

The difference between kitsch and crap art is that crap art takes itself seriously. Kitsch, and the collecting of kitsch, is done with one’s tongue firmly planted in one’s cheek. For example, I loved this T-shirt so much I bought one.

This is a detail from Ex-Boyfriend's Catnip Freakout T-shirt. If you want to see the whole thing (and maybe even buy one), go here.

What do you think? Am I a total snob? Do you collect cat art or cat figurines? What’s your favorite kind of feline art, and how do you add to your collection?

About JaneA Kelley: Punk-rock cat mom, science nerd, animal shelter volunteer, and all-around geek with a passion for bad puns, intelligent conversation, and role-play adventure games. She gratefully and gracefully accepts her status as chief cat slave for her family of feline bloggers, who have been writing their cat advice column, Paws and Effect, since 2003. JaneA dreams of making a great living out of her love for cats.

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