News Column

A purr-fect evening for cat lovers at the Contemporary

July 19, 2014

By Sarah Bryan Miller, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

July 19--ST. LOUIS -- Cat owners, according to a study highlighted in this weekend's International Cat Video Festival at the Contemporary Art Museum, are more intelligent, more introverted, more open to new experiences and more sensitive than dog owners.

Well, we knew all that. We also have fewer opportunities to socialize and share our love of felinity than do those who favor animals who run in packs. Cat videos are a natural means of sharing our affection.

CAM offered a chance to do it together with the 2013 edition of the video festival from the Walker Art Center of Minneapolis. On Friday evening, crazy cat ladies reigned supreme.

There were adoptable kittens from Tenth Life Cat Rescue dozing adorably in cages in the courtyard, representatives from Stray Rescue, whisker-centric face-painting, the opportunity to acquire a (removable) set of pointy ears of one's own, and, most importantly, the chance to enjoy a selection of high-quality cat videos with an audience of peers.

Fawn Duve, who coordinates veterinary care for Tenth Life's 125 felines, was dressed as the ultimate crazy cat lady, wearing a pink robe covered in Beanie Baby cats, and a handbag, sneakers, earrings and glasses frames that were all variations on the feline theme.

"I bought tickets the day they went on sale," she said.

Another self-described CCL, Kate Simmons of Maplewood, had her face and hair painted. How many cats does she have? "Three," she said. "It's all my landlord will allow."

Asked what she found appealing about cat videos, Simmons replied, "It's cats doing silly things, just like people do. I came because I thought it would be fun to have a whole bunch of people watching cat videos together."

So did the rest of the sold-out house, with roars of laughter at feline hijinks and a collective "Awww" greeting every sleeping kitten or snugglesome cat in the next 75 minutes.

There were the familiar (Henri, le chat noir; Grumpy Cat), unknowns, videos that recorded natural behaviors (Maru, the box-loving cat) and heavily manipulated images ("Work It Kitty Workout"). There were clever bits (a Japanese "Godzilla" takeoff) and a few whose appeal escaped me ("Nyan Cat").

With snippets and complete videos, the editing was subtle and well-done. Selections were grouped by type ("Hall of Fame," "Comedy," "Drama," "Music") well-chosen and nicely varied.

"It's an extraordinary phenomenological event," said CAM's executive director, Lisa Melandri.

Acknowledging that the museum was seeing hundreds of new faces, she added, "We're a contemporary art museum. What better place to celebrate contemporary culture?"

Sarah Bryan Miller is the Post-Dispatch's classical music critic. Follow Bryan on the Culture Club blog, and on Twitter at @SBMillerMusic.


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Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

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