Dzwonkoski, Julia and Kye Potter_Backyard, 2011

“Another Cats Show” at 356 Mission

“Another Cats Show” may have started as a one-liner, but that doesn’t mean it fails to land the joke. The exhibition, which closed this week at the Los Angeles gallery 356 Mission, included feline-themed pieces from 301 artists and proved that what they say about die-hard cat lovers is pretty much true: They may be crazy, but they also totally mean it. “People assume cats will be funny,” says Ooga Booga founder Wendy Yao, a partner in the space. “It is casual and inclusive, and gives artists a chance to do something not quite as monumental.” (Top image: Julia Dzwonkoski & Kye Potter, Backyard, 2011. Oil on canvas, 18 x 24 in. Photo: Max Schwartz. Courtesy the artists and 356 S. Mission Road)

Which is to say that cats are the perfect loose parameter for a summer group show — like the animals themselves, the sweetness of the shared theme seemed to redirect the art world’s often carnivorous energy into play. “Nothing is too cool or distant,” says Ethan Swan, who works at the gallery and helped organize the exhibition. “Nobody tried to win the group show, which is a thing people often talk about.”

EntryRm_2 The punchlines are in the pieces. “Another Cats Show” featured work from heavy hitters John Wesley and John Baldessari, at least a litter’s worth of contemporary art stars, as well as pieces by artist’s mothers and children. There are also cats as collaborators. One piece, of a shredded piece of carpet and wood, is credited to Amanda Ross-Ho and Erik Frydenborg, and to their three cats, Jorge, Mother and Bud. Andrew Cannon, who works around the corner from the gallery as the studio manager for Laura Owens, shared a material experiment — layers of metallic pigment and glue and who knows what else — that his cat had walked across: feline entitlement–turned–inspiration. It was not the only accident in the show. When a hole was knocked into a wall during installation, a member of the crew arched out the top and added mousetraps from the hardware store around it. Swan describes the proposal process for “Another Cats Show” as, “Hey, we’re doing this cat show. Please let us know if it’s dangerous or if there are special considerations for installation. Otherwise, we’re open.”

If the range of work is any indication, the trust the gallery put in artists seems to have provided plenty to pounce on. And 356 Mission will follow up the summer show with a project this winter featuring — what else? — cats-in-residence. (The rescued feral cats available for adoption.)
MainRm_14 A view of the main room at 356 Mission, one of three spaces at the gallery (in addition to some work in the front store) filled floor-to-ceiling for “Another Cats Show.”

Another Cats Show (2014) at 356 S. Mission Road / Ooga Twooga, installation view. Photo: Brica Wilcox. Courtesy 356 S. Mission Road / Ooga Twooga
Bogart, Seth, Eggs, 2014
A painting by artist and musician Seth Bogart, whose jewelry line, Mended Veil, is carried in the Ooga Booga store.

Seth Bogart, Eggs, 2014. Acrylic on canvas, 30 x 40 in. Photo: Max Schwartz. Courtesy the artist and 356 S. Mission Road
Gulbran, Karin_Red Spotted Cat (Hunting Theme), 2014
Karin Gulbran’s vase is among the range of works in clay in the show, including carved whistles by Gabrielle Ferrer, a porcelain cat bowl filled with milk by Cassie Griffin, and the oldest piece in the show, a small cat figurine with pale pink eyes. Made by artist Morgan Fisher circa 1953 when he was about 11 years old, the piece carries in it all the lovelorn joy of and lumpiness of being a child, and is not for sale. “It’s probably the piece that’s been asked about the most,” Swan says.

Karin Gulbran, Red Spotted Cat (Hunting Theme), 2014. Glazed stoneware, 17 1⁄2 x 16 1⁄2 x 16 1⁄2 in. Photo: Max Schwartz. Courtesy the artist and 356 S. Mission Road
Connors, Matt_Third Grove Cat (Red-Blue), 2014
Like much of the work in the exhibition, Matt Connors’ painting was created for “Another Cats Show” and is recognizably the work of the artist, with a cat twist. The iconographic head is the logo of Grove Press imprint Black Cat, an early champion of the work of Henry Miller and William Burroughs, and the defendant in several landmark obscenity cases.

Matt Connors, Third Grove Cat (Red-Blue), 2014. Acrylic on canvas, 18 x 16 in. Photo: Max Schwartz. Courtesy the artist and 356 S. Mission Road
Bress, Brian
A wall-mounted video expands on Brian Bress’ recent work, featuring a masked performer (in this case Bress with cat ears and paws) slowly moving between dimensions and mediums.

Brian Bress, Pushok (Antonio), 2014. High definition single-channel video (color), high definition monitor and player, wall mount, framed, 38 1⁄2 x 23 x 4 in. TRT 17 min, 57 sec, loop. Photo: Brian Bress studio. Courtesy the artist, Cherry and Martin, and 356 S. Mission Road
Swallow, Ricky_Not a cat person, 2014
Fans of Ricky Swallow’s Instagram and blog, “Ready 4 the House,” know he is an avid collector of inspiring things. The Australian-born artist provided a vitrine, Not a Cat Person (2014), of his own cat-themed belongings, including a vessel by Gulbran and a piece from his collection of inlaid Zuni jewelry of cartoon characters.

Ricky Swallow, Not a cat person, 2014. Collected objects, dimensions variable. Photo: Max Schwartz. Courtesy the artist and 356 S. Mission Road
Jackson, Johanna_TK, 2014 Johanna Jackson, a sweater about Nadine and some of her interests—her pig, her treats, 2014. Knit sweater, 32 x 64 in. Photo: Max Schwartz. Courtesy the artist and 356 S. Mission Road
Mergenthaler, Dain_Kat Lyfe, 2010
A weaving of cats doing bad things by Dain Mergenthaler, including a bank robbing cat, some cats gun fighting and a cat drinking out of the toilet.

Dain Mergenthaler, Kat Lyfe, 2010. Handwoven rayon, 36 x 18 in. Photo: Max Schwartz. Courtesy the artist and 356 S. Mission Road
ACS_356-097
Ninety-nine painted ceramic bowls arranged on the floor in the upstairs “bedroom” for Lena Wolek’s 100 Cats (2014), with the missing bowl for Wolek’s cat, who died recently. On the near wall are drawings by the critic Sarah Lehrer-Graiwer of cat photos from Andrew Kuo’s Instagram, @earlboykins.

Another Cats Show (2014) at 356 S. Mission Road / Ooga Twooga, installation view. Photo: Brica Wilcox. Courtesy 356 S. Mission Road / Ooga Twooga
Downstairs_1
View of downstairs space, with a piece by Piero Golia in the middle: “When it shows up, just put it on the floor,” Golia apparently told the organizers of his piece. The 35 ft.-by-40 ft. banner of a picture of a cat arrived folded; it still hasn’t been unfolded. “We asked, but he said it’s better if you don’t see it,” Swan says.

Another Cats Show (2014) at 356 S. Mission Road / Ooga Twooga, installation view. Photo: Brica Wilcox. Courtesy 356 S. Mission Road / Ooga Twooga