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Our Featured Artwork
Koneko features a revolving exhibition of world-class artwork by and for Cat People. Some of the artwork is available for sale, with proceeds to benefit our shelter partners. For any inquiries, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shepard Fairey is one of America’s most influential street artists. Trained in illustration at the Rhode Island School of Design, Fairey gravitated toward skateboard culture and street art. His wild-postings of “André the Giant Has a Posse” were synonymous with urban youth culture in the 90s. Fairey’s iconic “HOPE” poster for the Obama campaign became an instantly recognizable and aspirational symbol.
Fairey recently had a one-man show of his fine art at Jacob Lewis Gallery, in Chelsea. On Our Hands was the first solo exhibition of Fairey’s paintings in New York City since 2010. In his new body of work, Fairey builds up the surface of his canvas in densely collaged relief, calling to mind a city wall layered with decades of distressed flyers. The paintings reflect on contemporary issues facing our global community: political corruption, environmental apathy and abuse of power. The exhibition was marked by a focus on corporate influence in government and the resulting inaction toward environmental concerns by the powers that be.
Fairey’s print, Radical Cat, is installed in the Cafe.
Ylla (Camilla Koffler 1911–1955)
We are honored to feature the work of Ylla, the first photographer to be internationally known for her animal portraits and for pioneering wildlife photography in Africa and India. Born in Vienna in 1911, animals were Ylla's life, and she loved them all. Her interest in animals became apparent at age 15 after moving to Belgrade, when she began rescuing stray cats and dogs to find them permanent homes.
Shortly after moving to Paris in 1931 at the age of 19, Ylla discovered photography, and two years later opened an animal portraits studio. She soon began visiting zoos, fearlessly entering cages for close-ups.
Ylla became a celebrity, and her work appeared in most major magazines both in the U.S. and abroad. Fifteen books of her work were published during her life, and The New York Times called her “the most proficient animal photographer in the world.” Photographs from Ylla’s trips to Africa in 1952 and India in 1954, published in Animals in Africa and Animals in India, were the first to introduce her dedicated public to wildlife photography.
Ylla spent the last seven months of her life in India, where she died in 1955 after a tragic accident while photographing a dangerous bullock cart race. She was 44 years old. Sports Illustrated notes that her accidental death “ended an outstanding career in its prime and brought a sense of almost personal loss to the millions all over the world who had come to know her through her beautiful, beguiling and painstaking studies of animals in a dozen books and a score of magazines.” Ten more books of her oeuvre were published posthumously.
Ylla’s photographs, Hiss, Face, Kittens, Siamese, and Chinchilla were shot in her New York City studio between 1950 and 1952. They are on display in the Cafe.
More about Ylla can be found at www.pryordodge.com/ylla.html
All Ylla images © Pryor Dodge
Using childhood icons and trademarks representative of current day urban experiences, Tim Diet creates colorfully striking narratives through his juxtaposition of nostalgic imagery. His paintings are cleverly playful, evoking a non-judgmental yet multidimensional perspective of varied modern lifestyles. Drawing inspiration from his extensive collection of iconic relics from days past, his work communicates through fresh visual language that vividly connects to a broad audience.
Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Tim Diet began painting in the 80s, sneaking out of his parents’ house at night to “tag” alongside his older brother. The graffiti lifestyle immediately drew him in and influenced not only his craft, but his persona and idea factory as well. Diet has traveled across the US, Europe and Japan, just to paint. His recognizable work can be found on streets across the globe, in numerous books & publications, and now in galleries as his unique style continues to develop.
Diet’s epic mural, Tagging Cats, is installed in Koneko’s Cat Garden.
Clay “Ferg” Ferguson is an Austin-based artist, designer, and founder of two of the most coveted lines of vinyl art toys, Jamungo and Playge. His work is inspired by G.I Joe toys from the 70s, Jeff Koons, Claes Oldenberg, and his two cats.
Ferg’s pieces, Misfortune Cat and Crappy Cat, are featured on the plinth in Koneko’s Café.
Deth P. Sun
Deth P. Sun is a painter/illustrator currently living and working in Berkeley, California. Originally from San Diego, California, Deth holds a BFA in Painting and Drawing from California College of Arts and Crafts.
Deth’s work has been shown throughout the U.S. and abroad, and his illustrations have been featured in Chronicle Books, Giant Robot, Tiny Showcase, Urban Outfitters, Fantagraphics, San Francisco General Hospital, Chipotle, Poketo, Park Life, The Exploratorium, The Howard Hugh's Medical Institute, The LA Weekly, and Nylon Magazine. He has just produced his first vinyl toy, Cat With Dagger, based on his iconic cat character, in conjunction with FOE Gallery. Nine of Deth’s paintings are installed in the Koneko Café.
Ruri Kabashima Kippenbrock
Ruri was born in Japan and moved to China in her teens. After graduating from University in Beijing, she worked for a number of trading and fashion labels in Asia. Ruri became immersed in the world of tenegui – Japanese traditional dyed fabrics -- in 2002 during her husband's cancer therapy, when she used tenegui as a head cover. The soft fabric was extraordinarily gentle on his treated skin and the size was perfect to wrap and cover his head. Ruri and her husband enjoyed the variety of colors and patterns and created their own style to wear them. But most of all they enjoyed feeling the changing seasons and beauty of life through the art of tenugui.
Tenugui (te=hands, nugui =wipe) are Japanese traditional cotton towels. These towels are not only for wiping hands but also have a number of traditional uses and applications. As far back as the ancient Kofun Era (250 - 538), a clay figurine called haniwa was found with a tenugui wrapped around its head.
For Koneko, Ruri created a special Noren – a traditional Japanese curtain -- composed of three Maneki Neko tenugui, combined with two different traditional kimono patterned tenugui.
Maneki-neko, also called Fortune Cat, has long been loved among Japanese people as a symbol of luck. The cat's raised forepaw invites customers, so Japanese merchants tend to display it in their shops and restaurants. The most common belief is a left paw raised brings in customers, and the right paw raised brings wealth and good luck.
The left and right sides of the Koneko Noren are new twists on Hokusai composition, and the center panel is a classic Maneki-neko. Ruri wishes all the cats of Koneko good luck in their journey toward a forever home.
The top of Noren consists of an O-asa design tenugui. O-asa means hemp, and this very traditional pattern has been used for baby kimonos in Japan for centuries. This design celebrates the health and well-being of Koneko’s feline family, as hemp grows fast and straight toward the sky, and expresses a wish for all our cats to find long lives in loving homes.
The bottom of the Noren uses a Sei-gai-ha pattern. Sei-gai-ha is one of the most popular Japanese traditional wave designs. The widely opened waves are endlessly layered, and are a symbol of Prosperity.
Ruri’s noren is on display in the Lower Cattery. Her work is available at wuhaonyc.com.