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Robert A. Nelson, 'Cat and Mice,' 1975. © Robert A. Nelson, used with permission.
Robert A. Nelson, 'Cat and Mice,' 1975. © Robert A. Nelson, used with permission.

Cat-Inspired Exhibitions Are Coming to Massachusetts

Robert A. Nelson, 'Cat and Mice,' 1975. © Robert A. Nelson, used with permission.
Robert A. Nelson, 'Cat and Mice,' 1975. © Robert A. Nelson, used with permission.

City after city and art show after art show, cats have successfully transitioned from being champions of the Internet to being the furry subjects of real-world museum exhibitions. This May, the Worcester Art Museum (WAM) in Massachusetts will launch "Meow: A Cat-Inspired Exhibition," which will feature feline-centric art displays, public programs, and installations.

The project kicks off on May 21 and will run through September 4. Scheduled events include an exhibition titled The Captivating Cat: Felines and the Artist's Gaze, a community cat art show, cat-themed craft sessions, a “Cats-in-Residence” installation where guests can interact with and even adopt pets, and a bonus dog-themed exhibit curated by the museum’s mascot, Helmutt the dog. “The playful and mischievous natures of cats have inspired artists for ages,” WAM Director of Audience Engagement Adam Rozan said in a press release. “'Meow' is an opportunity to take this subject, which completely is of the moment, and explore how it relates to the experience of art, from ancient times to today.”

WAM tells mental_floss that pets aren't invited into the museum for this project, but there is a way for family cats to be included among the art. WAM is hosting a digital billboard contest for 'Meow,' which asks guests to submit the best photos of their cats. Eight winners will see their pets featured on a billboard for a week between May 1 and June 26.

As a preview of what cat lovers can expect from 'Meow,' the museum shared images of some cat-themed art from its collection. Check them out below, and head to the Worcester Art Museum’s website for much more information about the upcoming events.


Gustave Courbet's Woman with a Cat, 1864. Oil on canvas; museum purchase.


Léonard Tsuguharu Foujita's Untitled (Girl with Cat and Tiles); 20th century color lithograph on cream wove paper. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Hall James Peterson. © 2015 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.


Egyptian, Eleventh Dynasty.Head of Cat, bronze. Mrs. Kingsmill Marrs Collection.



Orovida Camille Pissarro's The Ambush, 1938. Etching and aquatint on cream laid paper; museum purchase. © Estate of Orovida Pissarro, used with permission.


Theophile Alexandre Steinlen's The Cat in Winter, 1909. Lithograph on cream wove paper. Sarah C. Garver Fund.


Toshi Yoshida's Black Panther, 1987. Woodblock print, ink and color on paperGift from the Judith and Paul A. Falcigno Collection. © Estate of Yoshida Toshi, used with permission.

[h/t Artnet]

Images via Worcester Art Museum

                                                                                  

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Art
5 Things You Might Not Know About Ansel Adams

You probably know Ansel Adams—who was born on February 20, 1902—as the man who helped promote the National Park Service through his magnificent photographs. But there was a lot more to the shutterbug than his iconic, black-and-white vistas. Here are five lesser-known facts about the celebrated photographer.

1. AN EARTHQUAKE LED TO HIS DISTINCTIVE NOSE.

Adams was a four-year-old tot when the 1906 San Francisco earthquake struck his hometown. Although the boy managed to escape injury during the quake itself, an aftershock threw him face-first into a garden wall, breaking his nose. According to a 1979 interview with TIME, Adams said that doctors told his parents that it would be best to fix the nose when the boy matured. He joked, "But of course I never did mature, so I still have the nose." The nose became Adams' most striking physical feature. His buddy Cedric Wright liked to refer to Adams' honker as his "earthquake nose.

2. HE ALMOST BECAME A PIANIST.

Adams was an energetic, inattentive student, and that trait coupled with a possible case of dyslexia earned him the heave-ho from private schools. It was clear, however, that he was a sharp boy—when motivated.

When Adams was just 12 years old, he taught himself to play the piano and read music, and he quickly showed a great aptitude for it. For nearly a dozen years, Adams focused intensely on his piano training. He was still playful—he would end performances by jumping up and sitting on his piano—but he took his musical education seriously. Adams ultimately devoted over a decade to his study, but he eventually came to the realization that his hands simply weren't big enough for him to become a professional concert pianist. He decided to leave the keys for the camera after meeting photographer Paul Strand, much to his family's dismay.

3. HE HELPED CREATE A NATIONAL PARK.

If you've ever enjoyed Kings Canyon National Park in California, tip your cap to Adams. In the 1930s Adams took a series of photographs that eventually became the book Sierra Nevada: The John Muir Trail. When Adams sent a copy to Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes, the cabinet member showed it to Franklin Roosevelt. The photographs so delighted FDR that he wouldn't give the book back to Ickes. Adams sent Ickes a replacement copy, and FDR kept his with him in the White House.

After a few years, Ickes, Adams, and the Sierra Club successfully convinced Roosevelt to make Kings Canyon a national park in 1940. Roosevelt's designation specifically provided that the park be left totally undeveloped and roadless, so the only way FDR himself would ever experience it was through Adams' lenses.

4. HE WELCOMED COMMERCIAL ASSIGNMENTS.

While many of his contemporary fine art photographers shunned commercial assignments as crass or materialistic, Adams went out of his way to find paying gigs. If a company needed a camera for hire, Adams would generally show up, and as a result, he had some unlikely clients. According to The Ansel Adams Gallery, he snapped shots for everyone from IBM to AT&T to women's colleges to a dried fruit company. All of this commercial print work dismayed Adams's mentor Alfred Stieglitz and even worried Adams when he couldn't find time to work on his own projects. It did, however, keep the lights on.

5. HE AND GEORGIA O'KEEFFE WERE FRIENDS.

Adams and legendary painter O'Keeffe were pals and occasional traveling buddies who found common ground despite their very different artistic approaches. They met through their mutual friend/mentor Stieglitz—who eventually became O'Keeffe's husband—and became friends who traveled throughout the Southwest together during the 1930s. O'Keeffe would paint while Adams took photographs.

These journeys together led to some of the artists' best-known work, like Adams' portrait of O'Keeffe and a wrangler named Orville Cox, and while both artists revered nature and the American Southwest, Adams considered O'Keeffe the master when it came to capturing the area. 

“The Southwest is O’Keeffe’s land,” he wrote. “No one else has extracted from it such a style and color, or has revealed the essential forms so beautifully as she has in her paintings.”

The two remained close throughout their lives. Adams would visit O'Keeffe's ranch, and the two wrote to each other until Adams' death in 1984.

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Dan Bell
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Design
A Cartographer Is Mapping All of the UK’s National Parks, J.R.R. Tolkien-Style
Peak District National Park
Peak District National Park
Dan Bell

Cartographer Dan Bell makes national parks into fantasy lands. Bell, who lives near Lake District National Park in England, is currently on a mission to draw every national park in the UK in the style of the maps in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, Kottke.org reports.

The project began in September 2017, when Bell posted his own hand-drawn version of a Middle Earth map online. He received such a positive response that he decided to apply the fantasy style to real world locations. He has completed 11 out of the UK’s 15 parks so far. Once he finishes, he hopes to tackle the U.S. National Park system, too. (He already has Yellowstone National Park down.)

Bell has done various other maps in the same style, including ones for London and Game of Thrones’s Westeros, and he commissions, in case you have your own special locale that could use the Tolkien treatment. Check out a few of his park maps below.

A close-up of a map for Peak District National Park
Peak District National Park in central England
Dan Bell

A black-and-white illustration of Cairngorms National Park in the style of a 'Lord of the Rings' map.
Cairngorms National Park in Scotland
Dan Bell

A black-and-white illustration of Lake District National Park in the style of a 'Lord of the Rings' map.
Lake District National Park in England
Dan Bell

You can buy prints of the maps here.

[h/t Kottke.org]

All images by Dan Bell

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