Meow Meow Meow: Meow
Remember the days when cats were just pets? Before cat videos and cat memes and Rihanna wearing cat ears? Well Susan Michals is bringing cats beyond the meme and into the gallery with Cat Art Show LA, a feline focused art show with over 100 works by some surprisingly heavy hitting artists like Tracy Emin, Shepard Fairey, Marc Dennis and many more. The show goes beyond the memes but isn’t afraid to milk the joke for what it’s worth. We caught up with Michals to talk about art trends, cat memes and the truth behind the human obsession with the feline form.
Cats are the most searched thing on the internet and have become their own meme, but bringing cats into the gallery realm, especially with work by established artist,s is pretty unexpected. What do you hope to show with this Cat Art collection?
To expose people to art and artists they’ve never seen before. The directive for all the artists was to look at our domesticated pal not as such, but as muse and inspiration. Cats in this show are but a vessel. Artists have always had muses – cats, dogs, men, women, children…I think the qualifications for musedom (is that a word?) is that they must be a living breathing entity. I suppose a plant or a chair could be a muse, but I really don’t know anyone that’s utilized those types of entities for inspiration, but I could be wrong.
Dogs are usually the cultural favorite, so why do you think cats are so fascinating and hip right now?
Cats are aloof. They are loving. They can be both of those things in a 20 second time span. I also have a dog (who is smaller than my cat btw) and she’s super groovy, but I just glommed onto cats for this particular type of show. And all the artists I approached rallied around the idea really quickly; I had over 40 committed in about two weeks. Certainly it helps to have shows like Balthus at the Met and the Internet Cat Video Fest pave the way and propel interest.
Rhonda and Cat, Mercedes Helnwein
Can you think of any other internet memes that could make their way into the art scene?Any trends you’ve been seeing recently?
Well, Ben Sutton over at ArtInfo mentioned that OWLS were the next big thing, but you can’t exactly cuddle up to them.
Can you talk a little about working with the Stray Cat Alliance for this project?
They are a great group. Part of what they do is to capture feral cats in LA and get them fixed; then a lot of the time they let them back out into the urban jungle of Los Angeles because they’re just not adoption material, but at least they’ve hopefully help to quash the burgeoning feral population.
What is your WILD Wish?
I wish I could work in Paris 50% of the time and meet a fabulous boho French man, and then live in both LA and Paris happily ever after.
On view January 25th to February 2