Lost Cats Show Pride On First Friday Art Walk
During the month of September, GayRVA has partnered with the Lost Cats Project to spread small pieces of artwork across the city. Be on the lookout for 100 rainbow-colored mini-kittehs at one of your favorite LGBT-friendly venues. Read more about the project here.
“I hope it is a nice surprise for [the seeker], and that it brings a smile.” said Alyson Plante, one of the artists behind the Lost Cats Project. She started creating small cat sculptures over the years and would often give them as gifts. Now creating cats with love is shared between Plante and Campbell Maxey, another artist for Lost Cats. “I love naming them. The first few batches were inspired by friends, family and our travels.”
What made you think of Lost Cats as a medium by which to place small art into the community?
Alyson: I’ve always enjoyed experimenting with clay, and along with the usual ceramics projects, I had made a few little cat sculptures over the years. Campbell would often receive a little cat from me as part of her holiday gift bag! Those little cats were always so fun to make, and she liked to collect them. One afternoon we were simply talking about creative ideas in a parking lot of an art gallery. We were just throwing around ideas and brainstorming about how to promote for an upcoming group show for the Real Small Art League. Campbell suggested the cats, and it stuck! They were the perfect size, small and collectable – like little Easter eggs!
Which Lost Cat story do you hold dearest to your heart?
Alyson: I think you know – it involved you, dear interviewer! I had sent out a teaser on Twitter about several Lost Cats going feral in Humphrey Calder Park at lunchtime a few months ago. I had fun hiding those cats and watching them get scarfed up by several kids. As I was leaving the park, a seeker (ahem!) was walking across the field looking, well, like someone looking for something! We shook hands and I pointed out one of the remaining cats a few yards away near some picnic tables. It was a moment of pure joy as I watched said seeker run full throttle towards that tiny cat – it was like a Super Bowl touchdown, there was lots of victory celebration with jumping up and down, and arms up in the air, upon discovering that tiny blue Lost Cat. Meanwhile, I was watching the whole time from a distance in the middle of the field, laughing and crying at the same time. It was beautiful! Very inspiring. It made that hot, sweaty day very much worth the effort!
Can you talk to us about what goes into making each small art cat?
Campbell: All I need is clay + TV. The cats are easy to make. Mold them, dry for a few days, paint and varnish. The fun is that no two are the same. Some get named. Others don’t. Deciding where to hide them is the hard part. Alyson and I brainstorm locations, plant them and hope no one finds them before where post clues and pictures online. Then game on.
How do the small art cats get their names?
Campbell: I love naming them. The first few batches were inspired by friends, family and our travels. I get inspired in the car a lot. I have a long work commute, which gives me time to think. Mostly, names come from what and who inspires me in life.
What do you hope each person that finds a Lost Cat takes away from the experience?
Campbell: I hope these goofy little cats brighten someone’s day. Can you really look at one without smiling? They were fun to make and Alyson and I enjoyed hiding them around Richmond. Hopefully, those that find them smile and pass that happiness along to others.
Alyson: For me it is about spreading creative inspiration through community/social works. I hope it is a nice surprise for that person, and that it brings a smile. Really it is about fun, plain and simple. And I’m kind of a romantic, so I connect with a saying that goes something like, “even the smallest pebbles can send ripples across a pond. The smallest gestures can have a ripple effect, even if it is unseen on the surface.” Cheesy, yes. But that is a part of it for me. Real Small Art League’s message is to help spread artistic kindness, and that a little art can go a long way. We clearly adopt that sentiment for our Lost Cats Project. After all, there can be a lot of stress, rudeness and general ick out there in everyone’s day, so I hope this serves to remind us that the world is inherently creative and kind. But again, it still boils down to a whole lot of fun!
What was the first piece of small art you’ve received? Tell us about the experience?
Alyson: The first official piece of small art that I received was from my kindergartener, a few months ago. My kids are very aware of this project, after all, there are small art cats drying in all our window sills! The kids have had a lot of interest and excitement about this effort. One morning I woke up and there was an itty-bitty cat on my bedside table. At first I thought it was a little piece of tissue paper or something, then I looked closer at this little blob and I realized it had two pointy ears and eyes and some whiskers. So, tomy surprise and delight, a little someone had tiptoed in very early that morning to hide some cool art in plain sight for me to discover. Very sweet! It remains one of my favorite pieces.
Campbell: A small cat sculpture from Alyson. We’ve been friends for over a decade and she always gives me art as gifts. Paintings, wire sculptures, clay cats, altered books or whatever she’s creating at the moment. The art cats are my favorite. I think the first one was a green, very lop-sided creation. It moves between mantle and desk depending on the season. I love it!
About the artists: Alyson Plante and L. Campbell Maxey are active members of Richmond’s Real Small Art League. RSAL promotes creative kindness and encourages collaborative art projects in the community. They believe a little art can go a long way to inspire others. For more information, visit realsmallart.com. (The Real Small Art League’s exhibition at Crossroads Art Center runs through Sept 8th and benefits Art 180.) Campbell Maxey works as a freelance art director & designer in the Richmond area and is a mixed media artist. Alyson Plante is a visual artist and has an upcoming solo show, Reclaim: New Works from the Obsolete and Abandoned in the DC area at Red Caboose Gallery in Vienna, VA from Oct 16 – Nov 24, 2010. Opening reception is Saturday, October 16, 4-6pm. (www.alysonplante.com) For more information about Lost Cats Project, visit www.lostcatsproject.wordpress.com You can find Lost Cats Project on Facebook and on Twitter.
Born and raised in Richmond, VA, Stanley works as an IT professional and a Group X fitness instructor. He enjoys helping others achieve their fitness goals through his spin and other high energy classes. Read his personal blog here and follow him on Twitter. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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