City of the World: Crazy Cat Lady

Printmakers are a gregarious bunch, happy to trade hints, tips, techniques –and prints. Print trading most often takes the form of print exchanges, where you mail in a certain number of copies of a print to a coordinator, let’s say 25 copies, and get back one copy each of prints by 25 different printmakers. Pretty cool.

I’m currently taking part in a very different sort of print exchange: a giant puzzle print. Printmaker (and organizing genius) Maria Arango has cut a giant block of wood into many smaller, shaped pieces of wood, and each participant gets to carve one piece of the puzzle, which will ultimately be reassembled and printed as one giant image. The theme: City of the World.

Every artist gets to choose his or her own image, whatever interpretation of “City” they come up with. I’ve been letting it percolate in the back of my head, and finally, after returning from Spain, have the answer.

There were way too few cats (for my taste) in Spain; perhaps they were smarter than I was and stayed indoors out of the hot sun. But there were two towns where I encountered a lot of cats. The first was Oliva de Plasencia, a small mountain town that trickled down a hillside. There were a lot of empty houses –empty, that is, of humans, but not of cats.

Cat on stone bench, Oliva de Plasencia

The cats were thin, but not starving. There were bowls of food set out here and there for them. Signs of a crazy cat lady at work!

Cats in a doorway, Oliva de Plasencia

The second town where I encountered cats was Zamora. I was circumnavigating the old town walls –still intact in most places– when I saw a woman hanging a quilt out on the clothesline. Surrounding her were a dozen cats, walking, grooming, snoozing, wandering in and out of her house.

Cats and catlady, Zamora

These encounters helped me realize the universality of The Crazy Cat Lady (and probably the Crazy Cat Gentleman, too). So here is my version –and vision– of the city. First, the carved block.

Crazy Cat Lady block

And, through the magic of scanners and Photoshop, here is what my block will look like when printed.

Crazy Cat Lady, print

The whole project won’t be completed until early 2012. I’ll be sure to share the final results when they arrive!

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